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

Where Did We Leave Off?

In yesterday’s episode, we took two slabs of beef, one from a pasture-raised animal and one from a feed lot animal, and were going to cook them side by side to see if the total experience of consuming pasture-raised beef was worth the extra time and expense compared to the conventional, feed lot beef .

How Was It Cooked?

We coated both steaks with a little butter and salt, put them in a 450 degree skillet, and cooked them in the oven for 3 minutes per side.  We finished them  on the stovetop over a hot flame for two more minutes per side.   Both steaks were cooked in the same pan, in the same way.

What Was the Result?

Here is a side by side comparison of the two cooked cuts of meat.  The feed lot beef is on the left, the pasture-raised beef is on the right.  My impression was that the feed lot beef was more gray and stiff, while the pasture-raised beef had better color and maintained it individuality in texture.  In the pasture-raised beef, you could see more “muscle” definition.  The feed lot beef reminded me of a more homogeneous texture, like a slab of tofu.

 What Did You Think?

Check out Brent’s unfiltered reaction to the taste test here.

As for me, I found that the taste of feed-lot beef is exactly the same as what I had been used to all my life.  It was a meat + salt + fat taste. I mean, hey, it was a ribeye, that’s a decent cut of meat.  It wasn’t bad.  But the pasture-raised beef had more flavor ( I want to say gamy, but it wasn’t gamy, it was beefy).  The texture was different, too.  It felt like it has more identity when you chewed it, and at the end it melted in your mouth.  It was different, but I liked it more with every bite.

So, Was It Worth it?

Was the total experience of consuming pasture-raised beef was worth the extra time and expense compared to the conventional, feed lot beef ?  In a nutshell, yes.  For me, it wasn’t any single factor that made the case for paying more for pasture-raised beef, it was all the small advantages combined.  Would I pay that much more just for the flavor?  No.  Was the texture 23% better, justifying the 23% higher price?  No.  But was the total package, tangible and intangible, worth the extra expense?  For example, supporting sustainable agriculture, local businesses, happy cattle, plus the fact that I did like the taste and texture somewhat better? Yes.  So I think I’ll be making a change based on this experiment.  I think may eat less meat, but better meat.  I think I’ll throw my dollars behind this way of living and eating, because its worth it.  If you think its worth it too, or know someone who might be interested in this experiment, I encourage you to share this article with people you know.  Its worth talking about, its worth giving it a try.

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

CarolG February 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

After tasting the pasture-raised ribeye, flank steak and finally today, organic chicken breasts, I give each a standing O. Each tasted much superior to the grocery store kinds I am used to. I barbecued the ribeye, marinated and barbecued the flank steak and baked the chicken and each was noticeably better-tasting than their factory-farm-produced counterparts. So I am sold. If the taste was similar I would probably still purchase from Ventura Meat Co. on occasion to support their suppliers, but after tasting I will make it a point to purchase all I can from them. (I’m in Camarillo so it’s a bit of a trek, but one I will plan to make.)

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Rebecca Simpson February 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Thank you so much for your feedback, Carol! I am delighted to hear you enjoyed the pasture-raised beef and organic chicken. I agree completely with you too, it is definitely worth it for so many reasons. I still have the chicken and rabbit to try, so I’ll keep you all posted on that. If anyone else has given local pasture-raised/organic meats a try, please share your thoughts! We would love to hear all about it!

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Chuck Barth February 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Having dedicated myself to clean and local food sources I want to support the act of eating local pastured animals. If you eat meats as part of your locally foraged and gardened diet, astound yourself with the knowledge that you are able to buy from the farmer up the road just like your parents and grandparents used to. Directly support a small family farm operation that keeps your dollars local (Ventura County), uses organic farm scraps for their pigs, grows chickens on their 2 acres and leases 3500 local Ojai mountain acres for their pasture raised beef.

Impossible living on LA ? Possible here ! Watkins Cattle and Livestock (one of the FEW local meats at Ventura Meats) delivers directly to our area. After a number of years as organic farmers market vegetable farmers and vendors the father, John Watkins has returned fom his retirement as a carrer butcher to deliver custom cuts of pork and beef, as well as cut up and whole chickens to fridges and freezers of Conejo Valley residents. Nearly 20 families already have banded together to buy and support the Watkins farm as customers. And we are repaid with some of the best meats I’ve ever tasted.

My point is that eating outside of the Factory Farmed system here in the Conejo is a reality that I would like to help more people experience. You really do have the choice. With our family it is now a habit. That is our great fortune and a financial commitment that I never regret acting upon.

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Rebecca Simpson February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Thank you for your comments! This is very interesting and in line with our goal of living more sustainably. Can you share more information with us? Logistical information would be good, such as how do people order, get started, what to expect, how much space they will need, etc. If you could e-mail that to suburbanstoneage@gmail.com , I would appreciate it. I am happy to spread the word!

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Think Around Corners January 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

OMFG Brent.

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CarolG January 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Well today on my way home from the Ventura Swap Meet I went by and picked up some pasture-raised ribeye, flank steak and organic chicken breasts. I will offer my reviews soon to add to the mix!

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Rebecca Simpson January 30, 2012 at 7:40 am

Wonderful, looking forward to it!!!

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CarolG January 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I was hoping he would ooh and ahh over the pasture-raised! Thanks for the honest evaluations and your conclusions. Definitely would be a “feel good” purchase if the taste is there… I think we’ll have to give them a try.

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Rebecca Simpson January 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

It turns out that the he did ooooh and ahhh, but that was over the pork chops we had yesterday. I think the beef is a more subtle thing. However, with the beef, the taste and texture definitely does grow on you over time. The initial reactions were one thing, but I think we need to give the beef more of a chance.

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NicoleC January 28, 2012 at 7:10 am

We don’t have a buy-the-cut solution here, so I buy my beef or bison by the quarter. You pay by hanging weight, but the finished product comes back at about $5.50/lb. Half of that is burger and about another 25% cheaper roasts, but I can’t even get organic burger here under $8/lb.

You can also get pasture-raised chicken and pork and lamb and turkey… it’s *all* worth the extra cost. Nonetheless, you didn’t mention the grade of feed lot beef you used to compare. Grocery store “USDA Select” hasn’t been hung to age properly and is the lowest quality you’ll find for sale as a raw cut of meat. If you have purchased USDA Prime, you probably would have seen much less differences in the flavor and texture you noted, but would have certainly paid at least 23% more for it.

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Rebecca Simpson January 30, 2012 at 7:49 am

The grade of feed lot beef we used to compare was “choice”. At our local Fresh N’ Easy, that was the only grade they had. I don’t know what grade the pasture-raised beef was, although I think the butcher mentioned it wasn’t “prime” because pasture-raised beef will not have the marbling that feed lot beef will.

I am curious to know what region you live in? Bison? Now, that is an interesting thing. If you have pictures of the meat you buy and what it looks like, I’d love to see them!

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JuliePaul-Simko January 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Hehe….your husband is so cute….”wait, I think I need another bite, ya know, for science” haha! Yea, I’ve heard it can be tougher, but of course it wasn’t kept in a cage and fed a fattening diet of corn; and also that is has more of the good fats/ elements of beef that feed lot beef lacks. Where eating feed lot beef is probably more bad than good for you; pasture raised is more good than bad…..Good experiment! I’ll have to do one for Jeff 🙂

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