Why Butchers Hate Grass Fed Beef

When you are cutting meat, you feel everything. It’s all about sensitivity. Not one string of tissue goes unnoticed. This sensation of connection develops and a certain empathy eventually appears. Below are a few observations I’ve made while in this sacred space:

Dropping a primal to the plastic cutting service begins a ceremony– A beautiful 107 Rib is ready to be trimmed. If this animal has been allowed to follow an evolutionarily appropriate diet, it’s soft, pliable, cherry red, and bloody (obviously). The fat isn’t oxidized. It moves with the blade.

As beautiful as this sounds, It’s texture makes it a pain-in-the-ass to cut. After all the bargaining and pleading, the meat will not stay still enough to make quality cuts. Remember– I’m new at this. It frustrates me, but it absolutely infuriates anyone who has any sort of time behind the knife. The first thing I ever learned about cutting is this simple truth- All you can do is your best. With grassfed beef, my best is often just not good enough.

All good salesmen have a way of avoiding work. Clever methods spring up in all laborious arenas. What I have heard in my experience is seasoned cutters convincing themselves and patrons that a grain fed animal is more tasty and better in every way enjoyable. This is not true. We all are entitled to our opinion. But if yours is one based on a system that supports inflated, sick, and boorish ethics- please, for the love of humanity, reconsider your outdated bias.

To give a bit of perspective, let’s catalog this experience with the same primal but that has been forced a grain fed diet, here is my unbiased observation.

Dropping a piece of meat colored plastic to similar plastic surface, the tissues are so inflamed and the fat oxidized to the point that blood cannot be released from this subsection. The rock hard fat chips off this ribcage. My work now resembling a Michelangelo. I would call it The Thinking Steer, but that might be a tad too thought provoking. Almost kidding here, almost.

Articles show us a couple reasons why these animals may look this differently from each other. We have been told that Grass Fed beef contains on average 35% less total fatty acid content rather than grain fed. What is more interesting to me, and more obvious when you have these sections in your hands, is the difference in Omega – 3 fatty acids. With an n – 3/n – 6 ratio being 1:1.95 in a grass fed steer we see healthier tissue and less oxidized cholesterol. With a grain fed steer’s n -3/n – 6 ratio at 1:6.38 we not only see a closer reflection of our suggested 1:11 ratio from the FDA, but we see it’s effect at the muscular level. it is more clear that the thud on the cutting block is truly just a familiar symptom of chronic inflammation.

Important to note is a collection amazing work done in 2009 sequencing the Bovine genome. Unveiling to us that our happy cow is more similar to us than that of any mouse. Without hesitation my mind jumps to the question –

If unrecognizable muscular inflammation, complete fatty tissue upheaval, and ultimately complete physical reconfiguration happens to to Brother Cow in 129 days of a grain specific diet.. What happened to me in 22 years of ignorance to this fact!? 

Imagining what making similar changes to our evolutionary outline is doing to those increasingly marbled steaks within us makes my reticulum rotate.  Without going into any Hannibal-esque fantasy here, I can imagine a higher species eventually asking for the human hamstrings that were fed a Grain-Free, Whole Foods, and Animal Protein Based diet.

Luckily, I pretend to be a moderate. Forgiveness and humility at my own meaning making was imminent. It is possible I might have taken this to a level ‘too high’ in nature.. But I would love to see a study more clearly defining this similarity, and how it relates to our musculature and physiology in the future.

The last science class I took was in High School. More embarrassingly, the last math class I was in was Introductory Algebra. In no way am I claiming to have a monopoly on this content, or to have the mental faculties to fully conceive and research further into these areas. I am proud, however, that of my 23 years on the planet, I never lacked curiosity. It is the sole reason I adore my job. It is the magic in my life. It is what makes me look forward to waking up. It is also what makes me fall asleep after trying to read James Joyce.


Comparison of muscle fatty acid profiles and cholesterol concentrations of bison, beef cattle, elk, and chicken. D C Rule, K S Broughton, S M Shellito, and G Maiorano J ANIM SCI May 2002 80:1202-11

BioMed Central | Article Collections | Bovine: The Companion Papers for the Publication of the Bovine Genome Sequence.” BioMed Central | Article Collections | Bovine: The Companion Papers for the Publication of the Bovine Genome Sequence. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2013


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