“You are what you eat”, not only applies to us, but also cows.
What cows consume affects their nutrient composition, colour and flavour of their beef. Grass fed cows are given the freedom of grazing on grass throughout their lifespan, while grain fed cows are fed a diet of soy and corn.
When comparing the two in detail, grass fed beef may contain:
Higher antioxidants – preventing / slows damage to cells in the body
Increase Vitamin E – boosts the immune function and helps to prevent clots forming in the heart arteries
A healthier profile of fatty acids including Monounsaturated Fat, Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fats and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – this could reduce heart disease risk and aid weight loss
Up to 5 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids
More high-quality vitamins including B12, B3, B6 and is rich in highly bioavailable iron, selenium and zinc. – the building blocks for brain function and protein
Within Australia, the type of feed cows are fed, is usually displayed on the label. But this doesn’t answer the question of how this affects the taste and quality of meat and which one we should choose to consume.
97% of all cows within Australia, are not 100% grass fed. While grass makes up a majority of the cows feed, they may also be fed grain as a supplement, when pastures are poor.
Different breeds of cattle along with changes in the seasons can influence the style and quality of beef produced.
Grass-fed beef is easily definable, by the slight yellow hue of the fat. This is a result of the pigments in grass and does not affect the quality of the beef.
For many consumers, grass-fed is said to have a more complex flavour as a result of the varied pastoral diet.
For cattle to be classified as grain-fed, they must be fed a grain based diet for over 60 days. 3% of the total cattle in Australia is grain fed beef, due to farmers choosing to raise their cattle on a grass-based diet.
The grain-fed cattle diet includes wheat, barley or sorghum.
Grain-fed beef is brighter, whither fat with more marbling due to the higher sugar and fat content of the grains.
Grain-fed beef is said to have a more buttery flavour, due to the increase in intramuscular fats.
When it comes to choosing between the two, its simply a case of personal preference. If you like your beef to have more marbling, then grain-fed beef is for you. However if you like the idea of cattle raised on natural pastures, then grass-fed beef is for you.
Whatever your preference, always remember to buy Australian so you can be sure of the quality of the meat you eat.