01-16-2012 06:55:04 PM
A discussion in another forum spun off on a tangent regarding grain vs. grass-fed beef. Tonester asked some great questions regarding the distinction:
Ok I'm completely going off on a tangent here, but my understanding was that--generally speaking and if all other things are equal--doesn't grass-fed beef cost more per pound than grain-fed beef? I mean, if frugality and not willing to pay extra and/or a premium for something was part of your argument...how exactly does grass-fed beef fit into this equation? I mean, I could be wrong about which beef costs more but it should be noted that many non-high-end chain steakhouses typically offer grain-fed beef, primarily because it offers a greater profit margin than grass-fed beef..and this is almost always possible because grain-fed beef is less expensive than grass-fed beef. Sure, Kobe/Wagyu beef is highly expensive...but the one thing for certain about it is that it is not obtained from grain-fed cattle...meaning, the more expensive beef (and I'm not talking necessarily about cuts of beef) are almost always from grass-fed cattle.
There are a lot of balls in the air here. Generally speaking, grass-fed beef is more expensive because there's far less supply of it. All things being equal, even with equal numbers of grass and grain-fed cattle, the grass-fed beef will still be more expensive because they're more labor & resource-intensive. That said, grass-fed beef generally also tastes better, although its taste isn't as consistent as that of grain-fed beef.
All that said, I don't choose grass-fed beef because of it's financial value, or lack thereof. I buy it because studies suggest that it's ultimately healthier for us. Cows are grass eaters, and feeding them grain doesn't suit their biology. Beef cattle are fed antibiotics because eating grain over a long period of time tends to make them ill.
Do we have enough grazing land to support all the beef cows in this country? I've no idea. And I'm not trying to come across as moralistic or preachy. I understand a lot of people struggle to put food on the table every day, and they'll gladly choose whatever they can afford to buy.