Folks have known about the benefits of grass fed beef for quite a while but the problem has always been figuring out where they could buy it. Grass fed beef is a premium product and it has a hard time competing on the supermarket shelf against the much cheaper beef from cattle that are fattened up in industrial feeder lots. As a result, most grocery stores do not carry or have an extremely limited supply of grass fed products.
So, where can you buy grass fed beef? I dug around and found quite a few great sources for you! Let’s take a look!
Grass Fed Beef From FarmFoods
FarmFoods is a company that has a wonderful idea. FarmFood connects consumers directly to the ranches that are raising grass fed beef. There are currently seven ranches in the program and when you go to buy some steaks or burgers from FarmFoods you can even choose which ranch you want to buy from.
Howard Farms in Idaho is one of the ranches in the FarmFoods network and they put together this great video showing their operations and why they are dedicated to the grass fed movement. Talk about knowing where your food is coming from!
Cunningham Ranch in Oregon is also part of the FarmFoods network of pastured meat providers. Here is a look at their operation.
FarmFoods has the largest selection of beef cuts available from any supplier I have found. I suspect this is because they have multiple ranches in the program so at least one of them will have the cut you are looking for. You can buy steaks, ground meat, liver, marrow bones, brisket, short ribs, etc.
FarmFoods has very reasonable prices and offers free shipping when you buy more than ten pounds of meat.
Grass Fed Beef from Laura’s Lean
Laura’s Lean is a beef brand that has been around since about 1985 and was a major trendsetter in the field of “Healthy Beef”. You might be able to find products from Laura’s Lean in your local grocery but check the label before making the purchase. While all of Laura’s Leen products are marketed as healthy beef not all of them are grass fed.
I put two Laura’s Lean’s labels side by side so you will know what to look for. The product on the left is grass fed while the one on the right is not.
If you can’t find Laura’s Lean meat in your grocery store you can sometimes get it on Amazon. I will put some links below that will display if there are products available.
Grass Fed Beef Jerky and Snack Sticks
One of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits and flavors of grass fed beef is to buy some beef jerky or beef snack sticks! There are a lot of brands making grass fed beef jerky and it isn’t that hard to find in stores. Heck, I just went down to Whole Foods and found four different brands!
Country Archer is my “go to” brand for jerky. By the way, here is the link if you want to learn how to make beef jerky at home!
The Jalapeno and Lime beef sticks from Vermont Smoke and Cure are wickedly delicious!
If you don’t have a Whole Foods in your area then here are some links to purchase grass fed jerky on Amazon. I tried to include a few options that were also paleo/keto friendly.
Here are the links for Beef Sticks if you prefer that over jerky.
Grass Fed Beef Liver, Bones, Tongue and Kidneys
The folks over at FarmFoods have you covered when it comes to grass fed beef bones. They have bones for making broth and roasting bones for marrow!
If you are looking for beef organs then FarmFoods has you covered as well. The last time I checked the following organs were available for purchase.
ButcherBox Meat Subscription Service
According to ButcherBox only 1% of all the beef consumed in this country is 100% grass fed and they are on a mission to change that number. ButcherBox wants to make 100% grass fed meat accessible to everyone and they guarantee that their meat is 100% grass fed and finished.
ButcherBox is a subscription based service that sends a box of 9-14 pounds of meat to your door every month. You can choose the individual cuts you want yourself or let them send you their curated choices.
Here is a video review of what you get with ButcherBox.
What About The Beef at Whole Foods?
An article posted on the Whole Foods website and dated May 6, 2010 announced, “Whole Foods Market now offers grass-fed and finished beef in all of our 281 stores in the United States.”
While that sounds good it does leave some wiggle room. Just because they offer grass fed beef doesn’t mean that all of their beef is grass fed.
I went to the display cabinet to see how the beef was labeled and saw that instead of being “Grass Fed” that it was “Pasture Based”.
All of the beef at my Whole Foods in Baton Rouge was Rated Step 4 on the animal welfare scale. I looked up the animal welfare standards for beef and this is what I found:
- Cattle must always be on pasture.
- No feedlots permitted
- Pasture maintained with at least 75% cover
These standards are a great start and a vast improvement over most commercial beef production but they do not guarantee that the beef you will be getting will be completely grass fed. It is very possible to place corn feed troughs on the edges of the pasture, fatten the cattle up and still meet these standards.
But whether or not these cattle are “corn virgins” is not important. It is not a bad thing if a cow eats some grains every now and then.
What is CRITICALLY important is that these animals were NEVER on a feedlot.
Confined Animal Feedlots Operations (CAFOs) are horrible entities. They pollute the environment, are inhumane and by quickly fattening the cattle on a corn only diet, produce unhealthy beef.
The beef at Whole Foods may or may not be 100% grass fed but it absolutely is not produced through the use of CAFOs and that is what you are really looking for.
This applies for all Whole Foods beef that is certified as Level 4, Level 5 or Level 5+. Beef that is certified as Level 2 has been finished with a CAFO and should be avoided. There is no Level 3 certification for beef.
Why is Pastured Beef More Expensive?
While there are plenty of marketing schemes designed to drain your wallet the price of grass fed beef is not one of them. There are three primary reasons why grass fed beef costs more than regular beef:
- Antibiotic Usage
Most commercial beef cattle start their lives on pasture but are then moved to giant feedlots where there are finished off and fattened up with loads of corn. These are highly efficient, industrial scale operations that fit as many heads of cattle into the least amount of space possible.
Grass fed and finished cattle spend their entire lives on open pastures. This method requires the use of tremendous amounts of land along with the maintenance and husbandry of the animals. Fences have to be built, moved or maintained. Cows need to be moved to fresh pastures. Raising grass fed beef simply requires more work than raising feedlot beef.
Time is money. The reason that most commercial beef is finished on feedlots is that pumping them up on corn is a FAST way to bulk them up and get them to market weight.
When cattle are on a 100% grass diet it takes them much longer to bulk up and reach market weight. Ranchers that are working a grass fed herd simply cannot turn over as many cattle as ranchers who go the feedlot route. Because they grass based ranchers are working fewer cattle they have to make more money per head to stay competitive.
Beef that is sold into grass fed programs is a premium product and as such the industry only wants animals that have never been treated with antibiotics.
The problem is that cattle do get sick sometimes. If a rancher who is working a grass fed herd finds a steer that has an inflamed hoof or an infected cut then he has the responsibility to provide medical treatment to the animal and many times that requires the use of antibiotics.
As soon as the rancher provides medical treatment with antibiotics he is no longer allowed to sell that steer into the grass fed program and the rancher takes a financial hit that has to be made up be the rest of the herd. Ranchers who operate on a feedlot basis do not have this concern and will often feed their cattle antibiotics as a preventative measure against infections.