Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

The Scoop on Grass-fed Beef

By Theo Weening, August 21, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Theo Weening

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!

Category: Food & Recipes, Meat




Gail NIckel-Kailing says ...
We have published 2 parts of a three part series on grass fed beef: Part 1 - http://foodceo.com/articles/2010/07/beef-in-the-american-west-first-in-a-series/ Part 2 - http://foodceo.com/articles/2010/08/health-benefits-of-grass-farming/ Soon to be published is a third part focused on the environmental benefits of raising cattle entirely on pasture. Enjoy! Gail Nickel-Kailing Managing Editor, Food CEO
08/22/2010 1:13:58 PM CDT
sippitysup says ...
I have been hearing so much about grass fed and am happy for the info. TKS GREG
08/23/2010 11:19:45 AM CDT
ewinbee says ...
Is your grass-fed beef grass-finished as well? The definition of grass-fed can be a little sketchy at times.
08/23/2010 2:11:47 PM CDT
Linda H says ...
I discovered Moe Beef, from Montana and will eat nothing else. (Moe Ranch is a multi-generation family ranch in central Montana.) The flavor of their grass-fed beef is incomparable and their quality is top notch. Whole Foods, will you carry it so I don't have to have it shipped to CO? Their website is eatmoebeef.com.
08/23/2010 2:16:27 PM CDT
Karen Shea says ...
Find it curious that you don't think the e-coli issue is one of the key points - it sure is in my book!
08/23/2010 2:25:24 PM CDT
Ulla says ...
Exciting! I have a lot of grass-fed beef recipes on my blog too! Looking forward to this series! So important to demystify cooking with grass-fed beef! :)
08/23/2010 2:55:15 PM CDT
David says ...
I recently switched to grass-fed beef after learning more about grass-fed vs. grain-fed. Cows are not supposed to eat grain. It makes them sick. Confined animal facility operations automatically pump their confined, grain-fed cows with antibiotics to counter the effects of their diet. What I've learned from eating grass-fed beef is that you it's much more nutrient-dense. It fills you up quickly. Seriously, I eat half as much meat now that I've switched over to humanely raised beef and pork. And, I feel better than ever.
08/23/2010 3:24:32 PM CDT
teddy5 says ...
Grass fed beef tastes fantastic. Give it a try and you'll never go back!!
08/23/2010 4:55:46 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@ewinbee Yes, our grass-fed beef is grass-finished as well. Thanks for asking!
08/23/2010 8:40:45 PM CDT
Sunny Christopher says ...
While I think that grass fed is certainly superior tasting, better for the environment and healthier for us (and the cows) my concerns with beef have to do with the processing, and the foul contaminants that are consistently found in all types of beef. What type of quality control is WF doing to 1) ensure we are purchasing a cleaner product and 2) using your buying power to encourage safer & cleaner processing? Thanks, and keep up the good work. I count on you!!
08/25/2010 4:55:46 PM CDT
J. Strobel says ...
So 1/3 of the cattle's life is grain fed? How long is that, we do not know how long cattle live? It is not really grass fed then is it. Is the grain corn? Is is genitically modified? Have tried your grass fed beef and it does not compare to Tall Grass Beef in taste, fat content and gristle...I would like to see the answers to my questions and comments on this site as it is inquiring to info you are printing on this site...Thankyou...
08/25/2010 6:22:49 PM CDT
Jennifer says ...
This is a great, informative article concerning grass-fed & grass finished beef. I feel so much better shopping at Whole Foods knowing that the beef I purchase and consume comes from a humanely treated animal. I am linking this article on my blog to spread the word. Thank you for your continued efforts in providing consumers with food options.
08/25/2010 8:24:57 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Sunny Christopher We require all plants that slaughter animals or process meat products to be audited for food safety on an annual basis. One of the requirements for those audits is that the plant establish self audits and provide the auditor the records of the results of those audits, verifying that they are focusing on food safety at all times. In addition, slaughter plants must pass stringent animal welfare audits designed by Temple Grandin. Hope this answers your questions. Thanks.
08/26/2010 11:14:17 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
@ J. Strobel Sorry if you found our information confusing. This post is specifically about the grass-fed beef you'll find in our stores. All of our grass-fed beef is grass-fed and grass-finished. Now, we do not sell only grass-fed beef in our stores. Our strict quality standards for <em>all</em> meat that we sell includes that the cattle must be never given antibiotics or supplemental growth hormones and there cannot be any animal byproducts in their feed. For cattle that are not grass-fed, we require that they are range raised for at least 2/3 of the animal's life. As for the length of life, our meat experts say that cattle raised without antibiotics don’t leave the farm until they’re 20 to 24 months old. That compares to conventionally raised cattle that are ready for market in about 16 to 17 months. You can learn more about our meat standards in this blog post: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/02/our-meat-no-antibiotics-ever/ Hope this answers your questions.
08/27/2010 9:03:53 AM CDT
bri says ...
I know that Whole Foods has different standards than conventional but I am wondering how it differs from Canadian conventional products. In this aricle the rBST horomone is mentioned but it is my understanding that it is banned in Canada anyways. How do Whole Foods standards differ than Canadian conventional for meat and dairy?
09/12/2010 5:23:41 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Bri We don’t set up our standards as a comparison to different governmental regulations. Here’s the link to our meat quality standards where you’ll find the outline of what we require: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/meat-quality-standards.php
09/13/2010 2:03:52 PM CDT
Joe says ...
Is your grass fed beef, also NO hormones, antibiotics and other items in your beef?
08/18/2012 6:25:27 PM CDT
nikki.newman says ...
@JOE - All of our meat, including grass fed beef, will not have any added hormones or antibiotics, ever! You can find an additional blog post regarding antibiotics at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/our-meat-no-antibiotics-ever-0.
08/20/2012 12:36:31 PM CDT
cynthia gervasio says ...
I love this article, tired of shopping for meat and find out it comes from mexico,canada or australia.
08/26/2012 2:19:56 PM CDT
Lauren Nitschke says ...
Appreciate the nice words & promotion of our healthy way of raising beef! Just a note: the embedded links in this page don't seem to link to the page described. Thanks for the great shout out - we love raising grassfed beef for the Southwest Region!
08/29/2012 12:10:18 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LAUREN - Thanks for catching that! We recently launched a website redesign and since this is an older post, some of the links didn't match. I have fixed them to direct to a more relevant page. We also enjoy having you as a vendor for the SW region!
08/29/2012 12:32:20 PM CDT
Patricia says ...
What is the lean-to-fat ratio of your grass-fed beef?
08/29/2012 12:39:03 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@PATRICIA - Thanks for your comment. Each store should offer a variety of lean-to-fat percentages to choose from. Contact your local store to find out what options they have in stock. You can find their information at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
08/29/2012 2:56:23 PM CDT
Mike F says ...
I'll be sure to pick up a good amount of the grass-fed ground beef that is going on sale soon! Also it should be mentioned the superior nutrient profile of grass-fed beef. The biggest gain is in the beef fat, which is loaded with important nutrients like CLA (potent anti-cancer and weight-loss nutrient) and Vitamin K2 which is important for transporting calcium throughout your body to help strengthen bones and help developing fetuses and growing children to develop wide jaws with uncrowded teeth. Butter from grass-fed cows also have these nutrients.
08/29/2012 3:20:12 PM CDT
Barbara Pole says ...
Grass Fed And Grass Finished The healthiest,with omega 3 & 6 delicious beef and pork and chicken. On Long Island @ Rocky Point Farmers Market. Broadway & Prince Sundays 9-1pm. Excellent weekly specials they cook and give out samples. The maple syrup breakfast sausage is so good. They have a web site. http://www.naturallygrassfed.com/
08/30/2012 7:28:44 AM CDT