Does Grass Fed Beef Taste Different Than Grain Fed?
Grain-fed cattle have a diet consisting of soy- and corn-based grains as this type of feed is higher in calories and helps cows grow faster. Grass-fed cows, as the name implies, spend their days grazing on grass in large pastures. The length of time this diet takes to fatten the cow is what accounts for the price difference. Many meat lovers and steak connoisseurs will tell you there’s a distinct difference between the two, but does grass-fed beef really taste different than grain-fed, and if so, why?
You Are What You Eat
As we mentioned, grain-fed cattle eat a nutrient-rich diet high in calories to help them gain weight and grow faster. The larger they grow, the more meat can be harvested, and the faster they grow, the more cows you can sell. Overall, it’s the most economical option for cattle workers.
However, grain-fed cattle don’t move as often as grass-fed cattle, and a sedentary cow that eats a diet high in calories is a recipe for an overall fattier cow. Conversely, grass-fed cattle eat less and move more, and it stands to reason that they tend to have a lower fat content.
The Difference in Taste and Texture
The activity a cow sees during its lifetime directly impacts the amount of fat in its body, and both of these factors affect the taste and texture of the meat. Grass-fed cattle are leaner and generally have less marbling than grain-fed, but the taste is described to be deeper and meatier than that of grain-fed.
Grain-fed meat will have a milder flavor and more marbling, meaning the meat itself is tender and juicier when cooked. The different quality grades of beef are, in part, determined by the amount and spread of marbling, which some argue is easier to obtain in grain-fed cows.
Is Grass-fed Beef Worth It?
It takes longer for grass-fed cows to reach the desired weight due to their diet, which is what makes them more expensive. But it also makes grass-fed beef the tastier option to some. Ultimately, what makes grass-fed beef “worth it” depends entirely on personal preference. While the complex flavor of grass-fed cattle may be worth the extra penny, it isn’t for everyone, and some people prefer the buttery texture of grain-fed cattle.
To answer the ultimate question: yes, grass-fed beef does taste different than grain-fed beef, but whether one is better than the other is a question of personal preference.