Pasture-Raised Vs. Feed Lot Beef Test: Can You Beat This Meat? Part 1 of 2

What are We Trying To Prove?

Ok folks, its time to put my money where my mouth is.  I talk sustainability talk, but can I walk the walk?  Or rather shuck the bucks, dump the dimes, or sling the cha-ching?  The answer is yes, and the deed has been done.  I went down to the Ventura Meat Co. today, shelled out an ungodly sum of money for a box of meat so I could bring it home and see if the total experience of consuming pasture-raised Moo was worth the extra time and expense compared to the conventional, feed lot beef you find the the shiny packages at your local grocery store.

How Much Did it Cost?

  • Ventura Meat Co.: $12.32/lb for pasture-raised boneless ribeye
  • Fresh N’ Easy:  $9.99/lb for conventional feed lot boneless ribeye
  • The difference: It is 23% more expensive to buy pasture-raised beef

What Will You See?

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll show you a side by side comparison of the packaging and product you can expect to find.  On the left is conventional feed lot beef, on the right is pasture-raised beef.

  • (Left) The conventional feed lot beef comes pre-packaged in a plastic container that is filled with “air” and sitting on a soggy tissue.
  • (Right) The pasture-raised beef comes wrapped in paper, surrounded by actual air, and that’s it.  No plastic is involved..

 

  • (Left) The conventional feed lot beef has more marbling,  is a cherry red, and the fat along the top felt rigid and stiff.  The meat was plump and firm, like botox lips, and had a slight “tangy” odor (like old blood)
  • (Right) The pasture-raised beef is a “meaty” red (I couldn’t find a better word), has less marbling, and was supple, silky, and tender.  It seemed relaxed, like it already had been slow cooked and was falling apart.  There was no odor.

What Will You Experience?

  • At Fresh and Easy, I grabbed a cart, grabbed a package of meat, checked out, and drove home.  Business as usual.  Had a nice chat with the fellow stocking the isles as I checked out, though.
  • At Ventura Meat Co., you don’t go to a butcher, you go to meat college.  I actually shook hands with Michael, the owner (who is the very same dude you see on the webpage), and got my self a meatucation.   He took a solid 20 minutes to exhaust every question I had about the meat I was buying, where it came from, why it was different.  He educated me on the process behind bringing meat to market, what a primal cut is, and then proceeded to cut my custom order off a subprimal right before my eyes with a hack saw that looked like it was made for Christmas tree trunks.   I wanted pork to end all pork, he cut and delivered the finest, fattest chops I have ever seen.  He told me what to look for, what to smell for (pasture raised pork will have a special “odor”, just ask him to show you).   I walked out with beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, and a big smile.  Its not just a butcher shop, its entertainment.

How Will You Cook It?

Regarding the ribeyes, I’ll take  both the pasture-raised and conventional pieces and put them in a 450 degree skillet for two minutes per side.  A little salt added perhaps, then the taste test begins.

Was it Worth It?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where we will find that out! To be continued…

 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

LisaDuFourWilkinson March 19, 2013 at 3:38 am

I moved to grass fed beef  a couple of years ago.  We bought a quarter cow, the farmer said “She had 1000 good days and one bad”.  I can live with that and the quality was amazing!

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CarolG January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Thank you again for doing legwork for me (or pre-legwork?) I picked up a brochure from Novy Ranches at the Farmer’s Market last week but would prefer to try some pasture-raised beef from somewhere more local (they are in No. CA.) Looking forward to the results your taste-test. It should be a blind one, yes? 😉

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Rebecca Simpson January 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm

You are so correct! Thanks for the reminder, it was indeed a blind test. I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all went down!

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