I just joined ChowHound. I've read a few posts about grass fed beef on here. There is A LOT of deceit, myths, misinformation regarding grass fed beef nowadays. The beef industry is such a mess! First there are very few IF ANY producers especially in Southern California doing 100% grass fed and finished. It's just not financially or economically feasible to grow the necessary pasture, especially without irrigation, to the level necessary for good quality well marbeled grass fed beef. The key to raising great tasting, high quality, and well marbeled grass fed beef is rotational pasture management, lush green grass including clover, and alfalfa. Cows should have access to fresh new pasture every few days. Throwing cattle out on grass, along with finishing those cows on grass does not produce high quality grass fed beef. There is an art and science behind growing well marbeled 100% grass fed beef. I'm not going to name names etc. I think anyone who is out there doing pastured cattle should be commended as the commercial and CAFO beef industry is disgusting and dreadrful. So even free range corn fed cattle producers treating their animals humanely should be applauded. However, there are a lot of producers taking advantage of the public's general naivety and just lack of knowledge regarding beef, cattle and grass feeding.
For example, if you go to their FAQ section of their website there is a very popular and well known producer based out of the midwest who is claiming their beef is grass fed. Their FAQ is worded in a very deceitful way. Atleast I think it is deceitful. Their cattle are never FINISHED on grain. But it says nothing about what the cattle eat on a daily, monthly basis and ESPECIALLY during winter since most of their cattle are raised in very cold, bitter, winter conditions of the midwest.
There are a lot of grass fed producers feeding their cattle DDG's or dried distiller grains especially in places like the midwest where winters are very harsh. These are a by product of the ethanol industry and because they dry/process the starch out of the grain many grass farmers don't consider it a "grain". Again this may not mean much to the average consumer just like the farmers. But it's unfair to the producers that are putting in the costs, labor and sacrifice involved in actually producing 100% grass fed and finished beef. And the consumer is not getting what they are paying for.
I could go on and on. But use common sense and do a little research when looking into 100% grass fed beef. Talk to and demand information from the farmers/ranchers. They should be able to tell you exactly what their cattle are eating and when. If they say 100% grass fed beef ask them detailed questions such as have they ever had a feed grass analysis done? Do they feed their cattle alfalfa and clover as well as pasture and other grass? At what age are the cattle sent to market? Remember it takes upwards of several years to feed and finish beef cattle on grass and it's a very meticulous process to make sure the cattle are achieving the desired weight of gain to ensure tender, flavorful meat. Again throwing cattle on on any old pasture, especially in SoCal is not conducive to growing 100% grass fed cattle. It's an intensive daily attention to detail when managing grass fed cattle. Watching how much of the grass they are eating etc. Is their grass fed beef dry aged at all? Dry aging is the gold standard! Many producers wet age their beef. 100% grass fed beef is already financially intensive and so to actually invest in dry aging as well should be reflected in the price. You're going to pay a premium for 100% grass fed finished dry aged beef.
Lastly, organic means nothing when it comes to 100% grass fed finished beef. All the organic crap you buy at Trader Joes and Costo comes from the same feedlots and producers of grocery store beef and CAFOs. The cows are still fed grain, soy, corn etc. And it does nothing to protect the health of the animals. There have been many, one in CA a few years ago, Organic ground beef recalles. And the only local markets where I live that carry any type of grass fed gets it from South America, Australia and other countries. Remember South America has not outlawed things such as DDT which is still sprayed frequently and readily on crops, grass, etc. down there. I highly doubt anyone has ever bought 100% grass fed beef from Trader Joes. At best it was grass finished. Grass finishing does nothing to enhance the CLA, and Omega 3 to 6 ratios. It takes a long time for cattle to gain weight on grass. So a few months of grass finishing is moot. And the opposite is even worse. 30 days of corn feeding can completely reverse all the benefits of grass feeding.
The bottom line is trust your producer, ask them the hard questions. They should openly and WILLINGLY answer your questions. Keep an eye on what you are paying. If you're buying a 100% grass fed finished tenderloin for under $20 it's highly likely someone is lying to you!
I would high suggest you stay away from or refuse to pay a premium price for any grass fed producer that also produces corn fed beef.
Feel free to post anymore questions or discuss the information I just posted. The beef industry is very complex and the consumer is always one step behind.