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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