Eating Grass

Your heart goes out to those poor feedlot cows, it does. You want them to be happy and healthy, romping merrily through the pasture, rather than, say, standing knee-deep in manure with their rumens distended by too much government-subsidized cheap corn as they await their next round of antibiotics and weight-boosting hormones.

Then again, we’re talking about meat here, and you do like a fine, juicy steak. Does a steer raised the way nature intended taste better than USDA prime? Last week, online magazine Slate put its budget to work, letting lucky writer Mark Schatzker and pals taste-test five different slabs of beef. Conventionally raised Angus, both wet and dry aged, went up against Wagyu (the same strain of steer used for Japan’s famous Kobe beef), grass-raised but grain-finished beef from Niman Ranch, and all-grass steaks from Alderspring Ranch.

Think you can guess the winner? Yep, it’s grass fed by a mile. And surprisingly, the dry-aged, grass-fed steaks, at $21.50 a pound, turn out to be the most affordable, significantly cheaper than the $40/pound Wagyu and $35/pound dry-aged prime. Sometimes eating well is its own reward.

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