Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

The Scoop on Grass-fed Beef

In the lead up to Labor Day - the last big grilling event of the summer - our Whole Foods Market meat teams are pulling out all the stops to introduce you to our grass-fed beef rancher partners. Over the next two weeks, we'll be posting a ton of information out here on our Whole Story blog - talking all about grass-fed beef, our rancher partners, how to cook it and all kinds of exciting secret stuff that they've told me I can't talk about until next week. To start out, let's talk about grass-fed in general. Did you know that grass is the most natural diet for beef cattle? Their digestive systems have the ability to convert grasses, legumes and herbaceous plants into protein. Raising cattle on grass returns to more traditional animal production methods. Here's what I think are the most important aspect of grass-fed beef:

  • Grass-fed beef ranching is not only good for the animals, but involves managing natural resources and supporting local producers.
  • Grass-fed beef is a leaner choice and has a more favorable ratio of omega fatty acids.
  • Grass-fed beef is priced fairly for the producer and is worth every penny.
  • Grass-fed beef is a delicious alternative to grain-fed beef and cooks a little differently.

We've got more details on all of those aspects on our Grass-fed Beef page. You may not realize that most grass-fed ranchers are either independent (selling beef from their own property) or they join small, locally focused producer groups. We've sought out partnerships with a variety of regional and local grass-fed ranchers, including many family farms, with the goal of helping bring grass-fed ranching back into the mainstream because of its positive impact on the cattle, the environment and how it supports local communities. We're going to introduce you to our rancher partners in coming blog posts, but you can read about all of them now on our Grass-fed Rancher Partners web page. This Rancher Partner page lets you know who supplies the grass-fed beef that you buy in your local Whole Foods Market. Very cool. Like all meat sold at our stores, grass-fed beef must meet our strict quality standards, which require that animals are raised on a vegetarian diet with no antibiotics or added growth hormones. In addition, all beef producers are required to follow rigorous animal welfare standards that apply to all stages of an animal's life and environment. We hope you'll come back over the next couple of weeks to learn about the benefits of grass-fed beef and meet some of our local ranchers. And don't forget to pick up some grass-fed beef in our stores to give it a try yourself! We've got recipes and cooking tips on our Grass-fed Beef page. And don't forget, we've got some surprises coming up next week, so stay tuned!

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140 comments

Comments

dr. beng says …

Yep... the only reason I shop at Whole Foods (of coarse not the only thing I get there).... if they ever decide that grassfed doesn't appeal to a broad enough customer demo.... i am gone

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHRISTIAN - Since our products can vary between store locations and regions, I would check with your local store to see what they recommend for their area. Unfortunately, we do not have a national list of products.

Thomas Wallace says …

How can I be sure I am getting meat from a grass fed beef?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@THOMAS - First off the beef should be clearly labeled as "grass-fed" in the case in the Meat department at your local store. Secondly, since our vendors vary between regions, your local stores' butcher can let you know which ranch they source their grass fed beef from and if you have any further questions. A lot of our store locations have brochures that feature their local vendors with photos and interviews from their ranch. Hope this helps!

Chris Blake-Kopec says …

I purchased "100% grassfed ground beef" at the Whole Foods in the Dr Phillips area of Orlando, FL. The way to tell if ground beef is REALLY 100% grass fed is to save the fat from it after you cook it and leave it out on the counter. If it is really 100% grass fed, the fat will stay LIQUID and never turn into a white, crisco looking substance. When I have gotten 100% grass fed beef directly from farms.......it has always stayed liquid, even if I kept it for days. The fat from the supposedly grass fed beef at the Whole Foods in Orlando turned into the white, crisco like sludge as soon as it cooled off. Therefore, this store is selling grain finished beef and passing it off as the higher priced 100% grass fed beef. I'm seriously considering reporting this to the local Action 9 news reporter so they can do a story about how this store is lying about what they're selling and ripping people off!!!!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHRIS - Great question, Chris. According to the American Grassfed Association (AGA), in most species of cattle the fat, once rendered by cooking, will solidify when cooled to room temperature. This is true for grass-fed cattle as well as grain-fed. AGA also verified with us that they have certified White Oak Pastures as a 100% grass-fed beef operation. We’ll email you with a little more info.

lucas walasek says …

There has been a great deal of attention relating to the exact definition of Grass feed beef. Would you be able to provide me with the Canadian supplier that services the whole foods Mississauga location in Canada?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LUCAS - Since our vendors vary between store locations, you can contact the Mississauga location directly at 905.275.9393. They will be happy to let you know the grass-fed beef vendor. If they don't carry grass-fed beef, definitely let them know you are interested!

Dave Hermanson says …

I urge everyone on here to see the movie THRIVE! it's free on U tube and was available at my public library here in St. Louis. It's very important that you watch it all the way through. All "processing plants" are basically the same. This is something you really need to see your your self and our planet, thanks, Dave

Nos Espat says …

I live in Tampa, Fl. Where can I buy grass fed beef ?

Don says …

Hi, I have one question. Why is grass fed beef over twice as high as grain fed? Please do not tell me the price should not matter it is healthy. Regards Don

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NOS - Our products/vendors vary between store locations. Most of our stores will offer a grass fed beef options but check with your local store to see exactly what they have in stock!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DON - I was somewhat confused by your question but I'm guessing you are wondering why grass-fed beef is a higher price compared to other options? The supply of grass-fed beef is limited because it is typically raised by small producers, and because there are a limited number of certified grass-fed processing facilities. By partnering with producers across the country, we hope to help bring grass-fed ranching back into the mainstream because of its positive impact on the cattle, the environment and because it supports local communities.

Holly Collins says …

I would like more info on grass fed farms. I live in Sterling Heights, Mi.

Debbie says …

I live in North Central Indiana and the nearest Whole Foods is about 2 hrs away making if unfeasible to drive there to get grass fed beef. There really isn't anything around here that is truly grass fed and I don't really want to have it shipped. That kind of defeats the purpose. Any chance that a Whole Foods will come to a more central location in Indiana (besides Indianapolis).

Paul Westermeyer says …

Do you sell prime beef in your Glastonbury, Ct. store?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@PAUL - Our products vary between locations. Check with the store directly at 860.652.9800 for assistance!

Mona Gregory says …

Informative article

Gary W Markham says …

I raise IBBA Red Brangus cattle and am interested in grass fed beef marketing. My cattle do very well on grass and I am looking for an alternative to to feedlot for those I don't sell as breeding stock. Best regards, Gary W Markham

Donna Erlandson says …

Where would I purchase grass fed beef

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DONNA - Our products differ between stores so check with your local store to see what they have in stock!

Connie Barber says …

It seems you have recently changed the fat content of your grass-fed ground beef from 85/15 to 90/10. Any chance of you going back to 85/15 or offerring it in addition to the 90/10? I think the 85/15 tastes better and if one is eating grass-fed beef, one should not be as concerned about more fat since the fat in it is healthier.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CONNIE - We do not have national vendors for grass-fed beef so this would be better answered by your local store. They will be happy to let you know if their vendor has changed regarding the %'s of fat.

Carl Beachy says …

Looking 4 grass feed beef around new haven in 46774 tku

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CARL - The closest location to your zip code is our Mishawaka location. Our products vary between locations so you can give them a call at 574-247-5800 to see what they have in stock!

Mike says …

I raise grass fed/grass finished beef on my farm near Sherman, TX. No drug, hormones, growth stims, antibiotics---animals are never sick. One additional fact I have discovered is that the "shelf life" is tremendous. We are eating beef that has been in the freezer for about 4 years. Also, no e-coli issues with fully grass fed/finished beef. Way to go Whole Foods.

Kate says …

I just found out about "grass fed" and "grass finished." I am so relieved that, once again, Whole Foods is on top of it. The grass fed beef in our local Whole Foods is fantastic. We completely have stopped buying beef anywhere else. I have driven an hour and a half in the past to shop at a Whole Foods store. Obviously, I couldn't do that often. Now, there is a Whole Foods within 15 minutes, and almost all of our food is purchased there.

Cathie Sadden says …

Does the grass fed beef eat grains like soybeans ? I am allergic to soybeans

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CATHIE - Check with your local store to find out directly from the vendor. Technically if it's labeled as "grass-fed" it can only be fed grass but they can find out from the vendor to make sure.

Anna says …

I read that grass-fed means that they are fed grass SOMETIMES . . but also fed grain. They said to get grass-finished (where they are fed grass only the last few weeks of life. How do I get grass-fed ALL the time and ALSO grass finished beef? What is it called? Thanks, Anna

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ANNA - All of the meat sold in our stores that is labeled as "grass-fed" will be grass-fed and grass finished.

Sandra Watson says …

Grass fed/grass finished beef that I have purchased at farmers markets has always had yellow fat but I noticed the grass fed beef at our local Whole Foods has the white fat you find on grain fed. I asked the meat person but he didn't really have an answer.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SANDRA - Great question. We have received this question in the past and have reached out to the American Grassfed Association for the reason why. They sent us a report ("Effects of fatty acids on meat quality: a review') and it states that fat will react differently if it’s cryovac’d or held in open air. That may be the key to the differences you’ve experienced.

Bernadette says …

I understand that the beef is free of antibiotics and hormones but my question is, is the grass they eat free of pesticides? Are you guaranteeing that the ranchers or farmers don't use chemicals or pesticides on the grass?

Lauren O'Connell says …

How do I know if your grass fed beef is grass finished or grain finished?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BERNADETTE - If you are looking to avoid certain pesticides, I would suggest looking for organic meat options. For organic items, agricultural management practices promote healthy eco-systems and prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds or crops, sewage sludge, long-lasting pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAUREN - All of the grass-fed beef is our stores is also grass finished.

Diane Canatrell says …

Do any of the grass fed farms use fertilizers or treat the grass with any pesticides in Texas? Please advise. Does your store give any senior discount. Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DIANE - Since our vendors vary between store locations, check with your local store in TX to find out specifically from their grass-fed beef vendor. At this time, I am not aware of any senior discount options, but this would be a decision made by each store.

Mike Kline says …

I am looking for Grass fed beef or Buffalo. I am wanting to get away from all the hormones and chemicals that go into raising beef today.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MIKE - If you buy any meat in our stores, they will not be given antibiotics or any added hormones. If you are looking particularly for grass-fed options, reach out to your local store to see what they have in stock!

Laura Daniel says …

I recently read an article which stated that most grass-fed beef comes from Australia. Do any of your stores get their beef from Australia?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAURA - As a company we are decentralized so our meat vendors will vary between regions/locations. Check with your local store to see where they source their grass-fed beef from.

Mickey Williams says …

interested in grass feed beefis also chicken

sharon schendel says …

If the ranchers are supplementing grass with grain, is it organic? Is the land that they graze on free from pesticides?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SHARON - Grass-fed does not necessarily mean organic. You can sometimes find grass-fed organic beef but it is harder to find. If the meat is labeled as grass-fed, then that means the cattle must be fed grass their entire life and grass-finished as well. If meat is labeled as organic, but not grass-fed, then that means more than likely they were fed grain, but the grain must be certified organic. Hope that helps!

Dan Rhoades says …

None at this time

Bill says …

Hi, I am starting the paleo diet on Jan 1. I really want to buy the best products I can. Will the Butcher be able to help me with grass fed meat. Is your meat truly grass fed? Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BILL - Your local store can definitely help out. Our products differ between locations but they should have a grass-fed option. All of the grass-fed beef we sell is also grass-finished and will not have any added hormones or antibiotics.

Gary Smail says …

I can not eat corn or wheat.Is grass fed beef safe for me and what about winter what do you fed them?.and do you know if there is anyone doing corn free fed chicken or any other meat that is raised with out corn or wheat fed

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