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Grass Fed Beef

There has been enormous discussions about Grass Fed Beef these days, what is it, why do folks like it, and in general what’s different from “regular” beef. Let’s start at the back end of this and work forwards.

Cattle will graze (eat) many things that will help them grow, remain healthy, and ultimately turns into fat/muscle which is what we eat. Much like humans, we need to eat food to live, grow, and stay healthy – not too surprising. Mass produced beef will be fed many unpleasant things, filled with hormones and antibiotics all to get more “yield” from the cattle. Yield is the percentage of meat they get from a cow. Higher yield = higher profits. The unpleasant things can range from pesticide laden fields, corn, grain, and even other animals and animal byproducts. The theory behind grass fed beef is that it’s a healthier way for a cow to eat and grow, but comes at the expense of less fat and as a result higher cost. If you buy bargain beef, $2.99/lbs beef is most surely quite poor quality, the animals are treated incredibly poorly (which is a discussion for another time), fed literally anything that is cheap, and when processed they put whatever meat filler they can to get maximum yield. You’re savings comes at a cost, to the animals and to what you’re eating.

More premium beef is fed grain/corn, or some other full vegetarian diet, no hormones or antibiotics are used to manipulate the animals to create more meat than they naturally would. While taking yet another step in the healthier direction comes grass fed beef. Which is fed a diet exclusively of grass, sometimes referred to as pasture fed. Some of the bargain beef is “grass fed” but not exclusively, so if you want the full grass fed beef experience and benefits you’ll want to find beef that is 100% grass fed and finished, meaning the last few weeks of the cattle’s life it continues to eat a diet of exclusively grass. There is some debate how this affects the final product, some feel finishing with corn is the best of both worlds, but we are focusing on grass fed beef today.

The benefits to you of eating grass fed beef is that it’s not just lower in fat than other methods of feeding cattle, but the fat that is there is much healthier. Which is why grass fed butter is so popular these days as well. But now you’re wondering if it’s worth it, as fat is where the famous beef flavor comes from, this is the same concern I had. Admittedly I put off trying grass fed beef for a long time because of this. I’m an old-school rib-eye guy, so I really like the classic beef flavor. The answer is difficult, but worth exploring. It really depends what is important to you, if healthier options are important then absolutely give it a try, if you’re looking on a small twist on beef give it a try, if you’re simply curious try it, if you are only driven by the price then it’s probably not worth it, if you want a steak with USDA Prime quality marbling grass fed beef is not for you. For me, if I feel like a steak or burger, but want to be healthier and feel better about what I’m eating then it’s a total winner. If I’m looking for that classic beef flavor, I’d probably lean towards a USDA Choice or Prime, or dry aged steak, preferrably corn fed or finished.

To dispell some of the myths about grass fed beef, it is NOT tough, it is not dry, it does not taste funny, and while cooking is important I feel that’s true of every cut of beef. Below are some pictures of a 100% grass fed top sirloin I made. grass-fed-beef  


Trying to capture the purest beef flavor I went for a very minimal amount of seasoning.  It was simply seared on a medium-high temperature in a cast iron skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side.  I lightly salt and peppered the room temperature steak just prior to cooking and had a light coating of canola oil in the pan.  After cooking I let it rest for about 10 minutes on a foil tented cutting board.  As you can see this grass fed beef is was extremely tender and juicy.  Top Sirloin is a great universal cut in that it’s not super fatty like a rib-eye, it’s kind of a cross between a filet mignon and a NY Strip, and typically at a much lower price than either!  Even with a leaner cut this steak was melt in your mouth tender, with plenty of natural juices for flavor.

As for the flavor, it really didn’t taste much different than a regular steak, it was maybe a drop leaner, but it still had that classic beef flavor with no off or funny flavors.  I’ve tried several cuts of grass fed beef, and with the exception of a grossly overcooked ribeye (sorry ribeye, that was entirely my fault) they were all as you would expect, a premium tasting steak.  I will warn you, you cannot shop with your eyes like you do for other steaks, this top sirloin looked very boring raw, I wish I snapped a picture!  But the finished product was great.

I highly recommend trying grass fed beef if you haven’t already, with no more attention than you’d show any other cut of beef you can have a healthier option and still satisfy that craving for meat.  With all of that said, if I knew I was going to have one final steak in my life, I’d opt for a USDA Prime, corn finished rib eye, there is a creaminess to the beef from the high fat content that I’ve yet to experience with a grass fed steak.


First Annual National Food Day

Last week the first ever National Food Day was held and our friends at The Houston Food Bank invited Lukewarm Legumes to attend the local observation as their guests. The Houston event, Food Day Houston, was organized through the combined efforts of four local organizations: The Houston Food Bank, Urban Harvest, Recipe for Success Foundation, and The City of Houston Office of Sustainability.

National Food Day - Houston

The purpose of National Food Day is to help change the way Americans eat and think about food. National Food Day encourages people around the country to sponsor and/or participate in activities that encourage ‘eating real’ and supporting healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.

Houston Food Bank Booth

The Houston Food Day event was held on October 26th from 11 am to 2 pm at the Houston City Hall Farmers Market and included fifteen of Houston’s leading food related organizations as well as thirty five vendors featuring farm direct and prepared foods. More information and photos of Houston Food Day can be found on their Facebook page.

National Food Day - Houston

One of the highlights of Houston Food Day events was a Collard Green Throwdown! featuring four local chefs: Monica Pope of t’afia; Randy Evans of Haven; and Peter Garcia of El Meson, all members of the Recipe For Success Chefs Advisory Board; as well as Chef Jose Montoya from The Houston Food Bank’s Keegan Kitchen. Samples of the prepared dishes were handed out to the audience and the winner, Monica Pope, was crowned for her Food Day creation.

Gracie Cavnar

While at the Houston Food Day event we had time to speak with representatives from Urban Harvest about their work promoting healthy communities through educating children and adults about sound nutrition and respect for the environment. Urban Harvest also does a great job helping to establish and support community gardens all around the Houston area.

Urban Harvest logo

The City of Houston is very involved in supporting local food initiatives, including The City Hall Farmer’s Market. In June 2010, the City of Houston built a container garden at the Bob Lanier Public Works Building. This garden is maintained by City of Houston employees and was the recipient of a 2010 Proud Partner’s Award presented by Keep Houston Beautiful.

It's A Wrap

We also had the opportunity to visit with several of the food vendors at the event, including Guli Essa of “It’s A Wrap” mobile bistro, NOT your average mobile food truck. We found Ms. Essa (as well as her whole staff) to be very cordial and helpful and the food amazing. It’s A Wrap mobile bistro is a gourmet fusion food truck which has taken the best of the world’s flavors and formed them into individual wraps, including: chicken tikka, beef fajitas, and jerk chicken. Their menu includes veggie and gluten free items as well. We highly recommend It’s A Wrap to our readers. For more information and to find their current location visit their Facebook page.