Grass-Fed vs. Grass-Finished Beef: What You Should Know

April 8, 2020 5:52 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’ve recently been to your local grocery store or butcher and saw labels on beef saying “grass fed” or “grass finished,” you might wonder whether these two terms mean basically the same thing. It’s important to know there are some key differences between the terms that may influence your purchase decision.

Here’s an overview of what you should know about the differences between grass-fed and grass-finished beef in Williamsport, PA.

Making an informed decision

You probably know that “grass fed” refers to cattle that ate grass. Grass-finished beef isn’t a term that has quite as obvious a meaning, and not as many people are aware of what it is or that there is a difference from grass fed.

Basically, beef that is “grass finished” comes from cattle that only ate grass and forage for their whole lives. Compare this to grass-fed beef, which may have been started on a strictly grass diet but eventually received supplemental grain feeds or moved to fully grain-based diets at some point in their lives. In some cases, grass-fed cows will spend months toward the end of their lives eating grain in large feedlots as a way to help them quickly gain weight for slaughter.

This means cattle do not need to have been grass fed for their entire lives to get the grass-fed label, which is why if you don’t know the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished beef, the “grass fed” term can be slightly misleading.

You should also know grass-fed cows are not necessarily pasture raised. What this means is that you might have grass-finished beef marketed as grass-fed beef in some circumstances, but you’ll never see the opposite.

Does this mean grass-fed beef is lower quality or unhealthy? Not necessarily, but there are plenty of reasons why people do seek out grass-finished beef. It can have as much as 20 percent fewer calories than grain-finished beef, and has higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an important fatty acid that protects against cancer and prevents excess formation of body fat. Grass-finished beef is also known for having higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin E.

There are also some ethical issues to consider. If you care about the way animals are raised in agricultural settings, grass-finished cattle tend to be treated with much more respect, and are allowed to graze in much larger areas. Compare this to standard American feedlots, in which cattle will spend their lives in confined pens with a hundred or more other animals packed into smaller places. In addition, you can trust that grass-finished beef does not contain any added hormones or antibiotics.

These are just a few of the main differences you should take into consideration when deciding whether you will purchase grass-fed or grass-finished beef in Williamsport, PA. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between these two categories of beef and why grass-finished beef is generally held in higher regard, we encourage you to contact Tony’s Delicatessen & Fresh Meats today.

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