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.


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.

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

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.

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!

9/8/2013 1:57:16 PM

Grass-fed beef and buffalo JERKY, no chemicals, over 40 varieties. Go to my website at (JerkyDirect tab) for the best jerky you can find that is all natural. Also, great home-based business opportunity available that is super simple and very inexpensive - learn how to get your jerky for free - see website for more info. or take info. tour at Thank you.

Sarah Chaney
9/7/2012 5:41:12 PM

GRASS FED BEEF IS GREEN! Cattle: all they ask for is green grass and fresh water, open space for a stroll and shelter from the elements. The care and treatment of these animals who provide us with sustenance can affect their health, the health of the consumer and, in turn, the health of the environment. Try or - you can type in your zip code and find grass fed farmers local to you. If you live in VA, MD, WV then you could get your grass fed beef from us!

John Rockhold
7/31/2012 8:27:13 PM

Grass-fed beef and steak can have amazing flavor when done right. If you've tried it before but didn't care for it, try it again from a different source. I've found great-tasting ground beef from a local farmer and can't imagine switching back!

Megan Hirt
7/31/2012 8:24:52 PM

Oh, and the Flank Steak recipe was delicious!

Megan Hirt
7/31/2012 8:23:12 PM

Thank you for this information. I had never considered some of these cuts of meat before. I will definitely check out this book.

6/9/2012 9:55:14 PM

For urbanites who may not know where to begin, look in the Yellow Pages or use your search engine to find near-by "meat lockers." Contact them and they'll either sell you meat directly or put you in touch with a farmer who raises natural, grass finished meat. A quarter cow, cut, packaged and frozen will probably run you $5-600 for about 100 lb of beef. You can pick it up in your car and it'll stay frozen for up to a 2 hr trip home. If you order from the on-line "organic beef" sites, it'll cost you considerably more.

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