All You Need to Know to Eat Good, Grass-Fed Meat

Learn how to choose and use inexpensive cuts of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and pastured pork for better nutrition and out-of-this-world flavor.

| June/July 2012

  • Grass-Fed Cows
    Cattle that are allowed to roam and graze on pasture produce better-tasting, finer-textured grass-fed beef.
    PHOTO: PHOTRI IMAGES/MARK S. MYERS
  • Free-Range Chickens
    Free-range chickens feast on grass and bugs, giving better flavor and nutrition to the birds' meat.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Good Meat Kitchen Skills
    You may need to hone your kitchen skills and even relearn old techniques to prepare dishes with grass-fed meat.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Butcher
    Seek out a good butcher so you can communicate the cuts you desire from your animal.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Beef Hindquarter
    This portion of a beef forequarter includes the chuck, brisket and rib.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Beef Forequarter Brisket and Ribs
    The retail cuts of the beef forequarter include the short ribs and the shoulder pot roast.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Cooking Grass-Fed Meat
    The round from a cow's hindquarter can be used in beef roll-ups, also known as Involtini.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Cow
    The various sections, or primals, of a cow that the meat comes from.
    ELIZABETH KRASNER
  • 10 Sections of a Pig
    When a pig is butchered, it provides the 10 sections shown here.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Pig
    The four main sections of a pig create a variety of retail cuts.
    ELIZABETH KRASNER
  • Lard
    The lard from pastured pork is a prized cooking fat, especially great for making flaky pie crusts.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Free-Range Chicken
    Enjoy a whole, roasted free-range chicken for a depth of flavor you may have never before experienced.
    MARCUS NILSSON
  • Chicken
    Cut up a whole chicken to save money and enjoy rarer parts of the bird.
    ELIZABETH KRASNER
  • Grazing Practices
    When you buy pastured meat from a local farm, you can ask about their grazing practices.
    MARCUS NILSSON

  • Grass-Fed Cows
  • Free-Range Chickens
  • Good Meat Kitchen Skills
  • Butcher
  • Beef Hindquarter
  • Beef Forequarter Brisket and Ribs
  • Cooking Grass-Fed Meat
  • Cow
  • 10 Sections of a Pig
  • Pig
  • Lard
  • Free-Range Chicken
  • Chicken
  • Grazing Practices

Over the years, many incidents inspired me to write a book about grass-fed meat. One such time came when I read a New York Times article in which the author wrote about not knowing how to cook lamb shoulder. I was struck by how we’d lost our ability to cook anything more than steaks, burgers and chops.

A second time was the recognition that, years before anyone was a “locavore,” nearly everything my family ate came from within a 20-mile radius of our home. I thought this was interesting but not terribly useful for others, until I began to notice that it was increasingly possible to eat this way thanks to CSA (community supported agriculture) programs, farmers markets and local food websites.

A third incident made an even bigger impression. My husband, who has high cholesterol, happened to have his blood tested after our first year of eating local, entirely pastured meat. Although he had eliminated desserts from his diet, he still ate a prodigious amount of meat. Without further effort on his part, his bad cholesterol (LDL) count had gone down 40 points! That made me research the health benefits of grass-fed meat.

As I cooked my way through a quarter of beef, half a pig and a whole lamb, I discovered cuts and tastes I hadn’t experienced in years. Most grocery stores don’t stock briskets, short ribs, lamb breasts, pig’s trotters or pork shanks. It was a treat to cook them and a delight to share their flavors with friends and family. What is extraordinary is that, once tasted, the lively, honest flavors of pastured meat create instant converts.



What Is Pastured Meat?

Beef and other ruminants are generally called “grass-fed,” while pork and poultry are referred to as “pastured” or “free-range.” The essential point is that these animals spend their whole lives eating what they were designed by nature to eat and getting exercise, fresh air and sunlight. They tend to be healthy, with no need for antibiotics or other drugs. Because they range through rotating pastures, they aren’t stressed or crowded. When grass-fed animals are allowed to grow slowly and naturally to the appropriate processing weight, they don’t need growth hormones.

Pastured animals produce manure that enriches the fields they roam on and nourishes birds, promoting a diverse ecosystem. Grass-fed meat and milk are increasingly recognized as healthier and consistently lower in bad fat than industrial products.

deansiewert
12/4/2017 6:30:10 PM

sorry if your "commercial" beef is raised that way but here in Canada it is illegal to treat animals that way we cant even transport livestock that tight


annie1992
12/4/2017 10:48:51 AM

deansiewert, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Cattle are fed in long feeding "bunks" that line the pens, where cattle generally stand in their own waste, shoulder to shoulder with other cattle. They never see the outdoors, never graze, don't get to just lie in the hay and chew their cud, as natural cow behavior instincts tell them to do. They are fed an unhealthy diet, heavy in grains, which is bad for their digestive system but creates a quickly grown and very fat animal. Since they are sold by the pound, that fat translates into money for the big agricultural company that produces them and extra heart attacks for the people eating that beef. We didn't start feed cattle grain until about the 50s, when the US government had an excess of grain and sold it for cattle feed. They found it made a cow fat, fast, and was an inexpensive and quicker way to produce beef. Now they've found that the fat content is different and all that grain is bad for their digestion, so they are fed daily "preventative" antibiotics to keep them from falling over from a poor diet and unhealthy and unhygienic living conditions. I don't raise a lot of beef for sale, right now I have eight cows, including my three "moms". I have two 18 month old steers for this year's beef and three for next year, so I'll sell a half, maybe a whole, but the other one is for the family. If I had to eat commercial beef, I'd give up beef.


deansiewert
12/4/2017 8:56:27 AM

sorry but any writer that can believe and spew out such blatant lye about industrial raised meat is not worthy of anyone ever finishing the read if cattle are really cramped into those spaces so tight that they cant even turn around they would all die within 48 hours as they would not be able to eat or get to water and last I checked you cant live without those too!




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