Quick: Why do cows have four stomachs?
Answer: Because they’re ruminants, or grazing animals, and need all four stomachs to break down the fiber in pasture fodder. In other words, they were designed to eat grass and other leafy plants like legumes. And that’s just what they ate for thousands of years, even after humanity domesticated them 8,000 or so years ago. Until the 1950s, anyway, when corn production skyrocketed and corn-fed beef was born.
Now, most cattle destined for your dinner plate are fattened up on corn orgrain. And that’s a shame, because cattle that graze in open pasture stress the environment a lot less than feed lot animals do, and their meat is packed with healthful fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which has recently been identified as a potent cancer fighter. It’s also laden with vitamins A and E, and it’s one of the few land-based protein sources whose levels of omega-3 fatty acids outrank the omega-6 variety. You’d have to have been hiding in a cave for the last five years to have missed the fact that omega-3s help stave off heart disease, fight depression, and improve brain function.
That’s all to say that it’s really no surprise that grass-fed beef is becoming the new big thing. Steak and burgers without the fat-induced guilt? Pass the marinade!
TIP FOR GRASS-FED BEEF
Undercook it. Grass-fed beef cooks much faster than grain-fed; undercooking it will lock in flavor and prevent dryness.
Where to Buy
American Grass Fed Beef sells its dry-aged beef through its website, www.americangrassfedbeef.com, and through select Schnucks Market and Whole Foods Market locations (866) 255-5002 in the Midwest.
North Hollow Farm ships you beef -- and pork and syrup if you want it -- straight from Vermont. www.vermontgrassfedbeef.com, (877) 304-2333
Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats offers not only grass-fed beef but also lamb, goat, bison, pork, and dairy products. www.texasgrassfedbeef.com, (866)
Alderspring Ranch’s beef won a Slate magazine taste test, beating even expensive, dry-aged Japanese steaks. www.alderspring.com
Uruguay Steaks delivers 100 percent grass-fed, organic, free-range South American beefat your door the day after you order it (some swear this is the beststeak you’ll ever eat).
Restaurants that Feature Grass-Fed Beef
Lola the Restaurant
Brooklyn, New York
393 Lewis Avenue, (718)942-4162,
Acme Chop House
24 Willie Mays Plaza,
Prairie Grass Café
601 Skokie Boulevard,
234 Berkeley Street,
2132 Florida Avenue
Northwest, (202) 462-5143,