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Grass-Fed Beef Now Nationwide

We are excited to announce that Whole Foods Market now offers grass-fed and finished beef in all of our 281 stores in the United States. While this is a nationwide program, it isn’t based on national sourcing. True to our commitment to support our local communities, we partner with grass-fed producers from across the country including family farms in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. Increasingly, people are thinking about what they are eating and how it is produced. By partnering with producers across the country, Whole Foods Market hopes to help bring grass-fed ranching back into the mainstream because of its positive impact on the cattle, the environment and how it supports local communities. For beef cattle, grass is the most natural feed available. Cattle are designed to convert grasses, legumes and herbaceous plants into protein. Because it’s their natural environment, raising cattle on grass hearkens back to traditional methods. As well, most grass-fed ranchers are either independent, selling beef from only their own property or belong to a small, locally focused producer group. Like all meat sold at Whole Foods Market, 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 producers must meet specific and rigorous animal welfare standards that apply to all stages of an animal’s life and environment. Because grass-fed cattle are typically leaner than cattle that are fed grain, almost all cuts of grass-fed beef have less fat than beef that is grain finished. In addition, grass-fed beef has a distinct, vibrant flavor that some people prefer. Never cooked grass-fed beef before? Here are a few tips because it does cook up a bit differently than what you may be used to.

  • Since it’s leaner than grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef usually takes about 30% less time to cook, so pay attention to make sure you don’t overdo it. You can test it with a meat thermometer.
  • Make sure you aren’t starting with cold beef straight from the refrigerator. Starting ice cold can result in poorly cooked meat.
  • When using grass-fed beef in your favorite recipes, lower the cooking temperature of your oven by about 25°F. The cooking time will stay about the same.
  • When cooking on the grill, let the flames burn down more than you do for other meat.
  • Always use tongs, never a fork, to turn your beef. Piercing causes precious juices to be lost.
  • Remember to let the meat rest to allow the juices to redistribute before slicing.

Now some people ask me about the price of grass-fed beef. Bottom line is that it costs more for the ranchers to raise cattle this way, so they need to earn more off of each animal to make a living. For example, it takes longer to bring grass-fed cattle to market, so there’s more cost on the production end. Also, since grass-fed cattle are not fed grains, they are less efficient in gaining weight; sometimes weighing up to 250 less than grain fed cattle. That means the cost per pound paid to the rancher for each animal needs to be higher. I think very highly of our grass fed beef ranchers—ranching the way things used to be done, while taking care of our environment and helping local communities. Here’s just a sampling of the ranchers we partner with: Baldwin Family Farms — Yanceyville, NC The healthy herd of Charolais Cattle at Baldwin Family Farms enjoys grazing the nutrient rich pastures of an 800-acre multi-generational farm. Founders, V. Mac and Peggy Baldwin, practice a unique form of winter and summer grazing that allows the cattle to graze year round and produce high-quality, grass-fed, lean beef throughout every season. Circle N Ranch — Waurika, OK Gary and Lauren Nitschke, a second-generation, husband-and-wife team, have been in the ranching business for 54 years. Their cattle are raised to meet the guidelines of the Grassfed Livestock Alliance: an animal centered, pasture based system using high animal welfare standards that encompass all aspects of production, not confined to a feedlot. White Oak PasturesBluffton, GA Will Harris is a fourth generation cattleman whose 1,000-acre farm in South Georgia is home to about 650 grass-fed beef cattle that roam freely and graze on 100% Georgia native sweet grasses. With the help of a loan from Whole Foods Market, Will recently built an on-farm processing facility designed for low-stress animal handling while also minimizing the environmental impact. Simply Grazin’ Organic Farm — Skillman, NJ Simply Grazin’ practices rotational grazing, and the cattle have enough pasture to last them throughout the spring, summer and fall—they receive no grain at all. Organic hay is harvested all summer long and stored for their consumption throughout the long winter months. Eel River Organic Beef — Humboldt County, CA Clint Victorine has dedicated his entire career to raising high-quality beef with animal welfare prominently in focus. His cattle are raised on the clover and rye grass pastures of the beautiful Eel River Valley in Humboldt County, Northern CA. We believe that partnering with ranchers like these throughout the country gives us the chance to offer an alternative for consumers, animals and our planet. Have you tried grass-fed beef? What do you think about it?

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139 comments

Comments

says …

@Dale See our responses to Melanie & Dave above. http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/05/grass-fed-beef-2/#comment-46132

quita says …

Just watched Food Inc and my eyes were opened! Thanks Whole Foods for providing us with a better product! The quality and taste of the meat is worth every penny!

Wanda Nuila says …

The difference between grass fed beef and cattle raised with grain is simply remarkable. I remember the first time I realized the difference I was simply in awe! Eat for Health!

Ali says …

great article.. i was just curious where the animals get slaughtered. Do the animals go to a facility that other animals that are put on bad things get killed? Because what if a disease goes into the meat that you guys make? Whats the name of the slaughter house?

bobby jones says …

Thanks, I'll be getting the grass fed beef. Please get organic, pastured chicken meat that for sure forage on fresh grasses and get plenty of natural sunlight (vitamin d)

Kelly Park says …

Thank you thank you thank you

Jill Davis says …

THANK YOU Whole Foods. I just joined Marin Sun Farms Meat CSA for a trial period of 6 months. However, I may come back to Whole Foods, especially if you can guarantee that the meat, chicken, and pork are all pasture raised. Thank you for making this change in policy. It was the right thing to do.

Ann Weitzer says …

Read Michael Pollan's TheOmnivores's Dilemma; he claims it is NOT more expensive to raise grass-fed beef when you look at the big, long-term picture - depletion of the land; anti-biotics needed for corn fed penned animals, etc., not to mention the cost of obesity with the "cheap" corn raised beef for fast foods.

Lisa de la Pointe says …

we must continue in this movement; nothing is more important than the health of our people. I hope that we can take the next step to return to getting more local places to process the animals safely and humanely. I will vote with my dollar and support only the best foods. This is the only way we can truly redirect the food business. We must demand the healthy, clean food.

Defendi says …

After watching the documentary, Food Inc., with my family, it has made me realize the importance of taking command of the foods that we eat. We think that we are under a safety net by the food guidelines established by the FDA and USDA...the role of money and power in this country is very concerning. Thank you for advocating for the farmers with organic produce and grass feed meats. Consumers have the power to make change and make it better for all peoples (and animals).

Mary B says …

This is fantastic news, and a reason to go to Whole Foods again. I have been getting my organic staples from Vons (their O Organics line includes all of my staples, which unfortunately WHF doesn't always). I've been ordering canned goods directly from Eden Foods, because I know they don't use BPAs in their can linings. But it remains difficult to find grass fed meats and free range chicken & eggs. I am very glad to hear that Whole Foods is making the grass-fed meat part possible! I hope that free range is on the way :o) Yours in good health, Mary

Dragonkat747 says …

I just cooked two grass-fed beef fillets from White Oak Pastures, purchased at the P Street Whole Foods in Washington DC (for a pretty penny) for my husband's birthday dinner. Along with course mashed rosemary garlic potatoes, asparagus and sauteed portabella mushrooms and an amazing Spanish Rioja. Thank you for making such high-quality meat available for those days I can't get to my local farmer's market. Loving WF and White Oak Pastures. Cows eat grass, Katie eats cows. We all win.

Anne mortensen says …

Yes- grass fed everything please...the way it should be.

Susan says …

Just wondering if Whole Foods carries (or has plans to in the future) grass-fed beef that is also Halal? Most importantly, the halal label pertains to a particular way of slaughtering which is quick and the most humane for the animal.

pam mcwilliams says …

its fine to feed them right but where do they go to get butcherd for market? Please dont tell me it its on of the local factories filled with cow shit and e coli..who states they are "clean"

james says …

Yeah, lets return animals back to the farm and stop industrial factory farming. Okay that won't happen but really glad to learn about these little victories! I don't eat red meat, but care about the quality of life of the animals and their own health and I also care for my family and other americans who eat the poor low quality meat from grain feed cows. reading the omnivores dilemma now...eye opening and scary, so thank you whole foods and thank you ranchers/agro/biobuisnessmen who care enough to make a change. free range would be great of course, at least 6 months of the year. And if the life of these beef cows animal are improved enough, maybe calf and mother can be kept together longer and the overall life span of the animal can be extended. Its too bad greed has to exist...sigh

Michele says …

YAHOO! I've looked and looked for an outlet for grass-fed beef and organic produce in the east Phoenix area, and am THRILLED to find a Whole Foods Market just 36 minutes from our front door located in Chandler. Found you on the internet and can't wait to visit your store!

Julie says …

I'm from New York, and I love buying grass-fed meat at Whole Foods. Is it completely grass-fed and finished? Or is there some grain in the diet of the beef?

bette rowe says …

hi do you sell pastured eggs thanks bette

Sandy B says …

Hi I live in Port Charlotte, Florida. The closes Whole Foods is in Sarasota. We would love to have one in the Port Charlotte area!!! What about it????

ht70 says …

I think it would be great if the tags on the meat in the store noted "100%" grass-fed. So many places are trying to pass along grass-fed, grain-finished as real grass fed beef. I think those who are concerned about this really know that grain-finished beef is about as bad for you as regular factory beef.

Alex says …

Way to go Whole Foods, you've managed to dominate every niche in the food market. Is it true that the beef is allowed to be grain fed up to thirty day without passing on this info to the consumer? Support your local farmers by going to your local farmers market , never trust corporate giants even with their sly propaganda.

Paulette says …

Great website! I live in Humboldt County and normally eat local grassfed beef. However, I am very concerned about radiation, so have stopped eating it, beyond what I could freeze/can by about 3/15. Do you carry any Southern Hemisphere grassfed beef? (Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina). I am visiting one of your Bay Area stores this weekend and would like to buy some. Canned is OK. Thank you.

Bepkom says …

@Paulette: Product selection varies around the country. Please check with the meat counter at the store where you shop. Thanks!

Amy says …

Are grass fed beef slaughtered at different slaughterhouses than grain fed/mainstream beef? One of my concerns is worker welfare in these major slaughterhouses, so I was just wondering if all cows end up in the same place?

says …

@Amy Cattle diet (either grain fed or grass fed) does not have a bearing on worker welfare at slaughterhouses. Thanks for reaching out.

Ed Thrasher says …

Is the grass fed beef also fininshed on grass? Is there a strict guarantee if I purchase this beef that it is grass fed? Does this beef meet organic certification? I have learned of a Whole Foods not far from where I live and would really like an outlet to purchase such beef instead of having it shipped to me, however I must feel comfortable of what I am purchasing. Thank you in advance to any response.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ED - Any beef that is labeled as "grass-fed" must be grass finished as well. Grass-fed and organic are not the same. In order to be labeled as organic and grass-fed all of the grass must be certified organic. It is not common but possible. We also have a 5-Step Animal Welfare rating standard that you can find out more about at your local store. You can read more as well at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards.

Lisa Mabe says …

Bravo Whole Foods Market! So glad a major food retailer like WFM is doing its part to bring grass-fed ranching back into the mainstream. As we educate more consumers on the benefits of cattle raised the way nature intended, the more demand there will be for it.

Charlene says …

It's all(the beef) me and my family eat anything less is not only not worth consuming but is actually dangerous to consume.... Wish our country would support you guys and stop filling their pockets with beef that is not worthy of human consumption. Thank you

Gene Brown says …

Do you ever have calves liver ( not "beef liver" )? Is there a particular day it is available fresh or flash frozen in the stores? Gene

Diana Russell says …

I am very excited to learn that Whole Foods sells Organic Grass Fed beef and I cannot wait to start buying and consuming this healthy alternative to the other kind .

Megan says …

@GENE The selections available in the meat department and butcher counter vary by store, so it would be best to check with the store in your area. You can search for stores by zip code at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list and your local store butchers will be happy to help!

Damaris Vila says …

This is wonderful news. I am willing to pay more for grass fed, humanely slaughtered animals especially after seeing the abuse of sick cows and how they are then sent to the market for consumption. I salute these ranchers for doing a good thing for their animals and the public, and I thank Whole Foods for making it available for purchase.

Gail Petrucci says …

You seem to be the only grocery store in my area (Scottsdale, AZ) that sells grass fed beef from the United States. Please keep it that way. I eat clean and now notice that when I eat a "regular" steak from any local grocery store that I have a migraine the next day. The grass-fed products that they sell come from Australia, Uruguay, etc. and I refuse to purchase that. Whole Foods Market is a bit of a drive for me but worth it.

Larry pepper says …

Yes, but what is the story on the 4 rated sirloin beef I bought today from Austrilia? Is it organic? Very tasty, by the way. Thanks, Larry

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LARRY - Since our vendors vary between locations, it's best to check with your local store to see if the beef you purchased was organic as well.

Judith says …

Thank you for offering this healthy alternative to beef. Thank you to those ranchers who go this way.

katie summers says …

I am looking to purchase a 1/2 or whole beef. Grain finished is preferred. Would you be able to provide me with some pricing

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