Know your meat: organic or grass-fed steak?

Regular readers of The Stone Grill’s blog will already know that buying quality meat has a significant influence over how good your steak experience is going to be. We only use good quality beef delivered by our local butcher for our steak on a stone and you can tell quality as soon as you taste it.

Cooking is only the final piece of the puzzle and cannot make up for cheap or poor quality steak so quality really is key!

While there is nothing wrong with supermarket meat, buying good quality steaks from your butcher offers much more in the way of flavour and character when it comes to cooking that steak. When shopping for your steak, you will come across a couple of options. Standard meat, organic and grass-fed. We all know what standard meat is and where it comes from, but what about those other two?

Organic beef

We have all been told that organic food is better for us and for the most part, that’s true. In the case of organic beef, the label is more about what cannot be used in raising the beef rather than what can be used.

For example, to be organic, cattle must not be overcrowded, not kept in sheds, not fed anything artificial, not given growth hormones, antibiotics or anything they wouldn’t have in the wild. They can be fed grain and specialist foods as long as those foods do not contain any of the above.

Grass-fed beef

Grass-fed beef means the cattle must have been left in a field to find and forage their own food. That means grazing live grass and eating it where and when they like. They are allowed to be fed close grass analogues during winter, but the majority of the time, their diet must consist of fresh grass and nothing else.

There are two benefits to grass-fed beef. One, the cattle live much more natural lives with a natural diet, more space, fewer contaminants and artificial chemicals. Two, the meat tastes better for that lifestyle. Whether it’s the grass, less stress on the animal or whatever, taste a steak from a grass-fed cow and you’ll never go back.

There is some cross-benefit between these two types of beef too. As organic beef is not allowed to be kept in barns, they also get access to meadows and grass. Grass-fed beef are also technically organic as long as the meadows they graze are not treated.

There is a cost to these types of meat though, which is why organic steak or grass-fed steak is more expensive. It takes time, effort and much more land to rear either animal, which costs the farmer much more. This in turn will cost the buyer more. That investment is repaid in flavour though, so it isn’t all bad!

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