Knowledgable Consumers

 

Buy Grass Fed Beef Like a Serious Pro

So it’s clear I am fan of grass fed beef, and that I have a lot of reasons to back myself up. Let me help you get your hands on some, and to do so with confidence.

Price comparisons

First things first, how much is this stuff going cost me? This is what my research tells me:

  • 1lb of grain and/or corn fed beef (advertised with pride, sadly) from my regular-joe, local supermarket costs $5.00.
  • 1lb of 100% grass fed beef from a reputable Toronto butcher costs $5.99 -$8.99 depending on where you shop
  • 1lb of 100% grass fed beef from my favourite farm costs $5.25 (with discounts for bulk orders, and further discounts for sides of beef). I am sure there are cheaper options; I just really like my personal source.

 

Pound for pound, the nutrient density, health, and environmental impacts of grass fed beef makes it better value than industrialized beef any day of the week. You can pay slightly less money to put your health in a negative balance, or a little more for it to positively contribute. No contest.

But I can’t afford it!

    • If you have the latest cell phone or flat screen TV, regularly buy packaged foods (more expensive than their whole food counterparts), or even just dropped $20 on dinner out last night, you can afford to buy food that is better for your health. It’s a question of where your priorities lie.
    • Go directly to the farm for the best deals and choice of cuts. Create a cow share with friends, colleagues, or gym, and buy a whole, half, or quarter cow for a price you can’t beat “by the cut” with your local butcher. Don’t want to deal with going to a farm, ask your butcher to help you out.
    • Buy cheap cuts and slow cook or stew them. We’re talking ribs, brisket, neck/stew, flank, cheek… you can’t beat a good beef cheek stew!

 

What do I ask the butcher (or farmer)?

  • On which farm was the animal raised? Then go check it out online, or in person.
  • Was the animal grass fed?
  • Was it grass fed for 100% of its life? Grass-finished (grain fed for the majority of its life) or grain-finished (a cash-grab to fatten the animal for slaughter) is not acceptable.
  • Is it certified organic? Organic has a lot of positive implications (a post in, and of, itself) but the important things in this context are that the cow can’t be given antibiotics, hormones, or fed any genetically modified organisms e.g. GMO corn. In Canada organics are monitored by organizations such as EcoCert.
  • If you are dealing directly with a farmer, ask if you can tour the farm. Most farmers are happy to show you around, just respect their time, they are busier than you might think.
  • Remember that certified organic beef does not equal grass fed, and grass fed does not equal certified organic.
  • Always be polite, and an active listener.

 
If they don’t know, are shifty, or resent your curiosity, take your money elsewhere. Once you have found your “source”, be their most discerning and charming customer.

“Sorry, 100% grass fed beef isn’t possible in Canada”

What is the best piece of confidence boosting advice given to me by my outspoken famer friends? If you are told that cows cannot be grass fed year round in Canada, the farmer is either:

  • Interested in the fattening effect of grain finishing.
  • Doesn’t have the right farming practices (or land) to grow grass for hay, haylage or silage for winterfeed.
  • Doesn’t have the right breed of cow to handle the cold winters.

 
Grass fed beef IS a seasonal food however, so stock up while you can.

Have you found great sources of grass fed beef? What are your tips for those who are just starting to look for their own?

 

 

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  • Lynda Vidito

    Starrs Point Steer, Port Williams , Nova Scotia…its all we eat now…I get it direct from the farm. $35 for 10 lbs of beef

  • Peita

    I’m researching where to buy meat and looking at a local ranch. Here is their perspective on organic (they were certified but not any more). http://tkranch.com/faq/organic-standards.html and http://tkranch.com/faq/difference-conventional-beef-natural-certified-organic-beef.html Thoughts?

  • Jess

    I notice you’re in Toronto. What is this favourite farm that offers such awesome pricing? And, for that matter, the butcher in town as well?

    • Hi Jess, if you follow me on Facebook you’ll see lots of sources for good food including beef, that I post quite regularly: https://www.facebook.com/healthyramsden

      Right now I love Urban Rancher for my grass fed beef: http://urbanranchergta.com/

      Any of the downtown butchers are good: Healthy Butcher, The Butchers Son, Sanagans.

      • Jess

        Thanks Sarah, I appreciate it! Followed on Facebook, and I’ll definitely check out the Urban Rancher and others you’ve suggested! 🙂

        (And thanks for using a comment system that doesn’t require me to sign in with a network or create a new account!!!)

  • Isabel

    Hi Sarah,
    i’m in London, do you know of local farmers here that meet your criteria for organic grass fed beef? I suppose I could always do the drive to Toronto but in this weather I’d rather not. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Isabel, I’ll be posting something in the next couple of weeks that tells you HOW to find you own supply. You can also use all the tips outlined in this post on finding your own sources.

  • TurksetCaicos

    Hi Sarah, this is my first time on your website. I just want to say that it is impossible to find an organic cow’s farm that does not use antibiotics. If the cow is sick they try to practice homeopathy , if it does not work they have to use antibiotics with putting the medicated cow away from the milk line until it is cured and then they return it back. Another thing, is the grass of grass-fed cows organic?
    By the way , grass-fed in French is : nourri à l’herbe [ ‘noori a lerb ]
    Thank you

    • I am only familiar with the organic rules in Canada, so you’ll have to look at the rules where you live. When an organic cow gets sick, it is given antibiotics where required and is no longer considered organic as a result. It is never put back into the organic system, and cannot be sold as such. Dairy cows I would assume are the same, but that is not the focus of this article, I am talking about grass fed beef here, not milk, cheese etc.

      All organic grass fed cows must be fed organic feed, which is to say that grass in the pasture has not been treated with anything outside of the organic rules, and any hay they consume must be certified organic.

      When a farm goes organic, there’s a 3 (I believe this number is right, but don’t have time to double check the government website) year rigorous process to finally get certified. During that time the farm must practice all aspects of organic farming methods, and keep strict records for inspections. That time period is considered the buffer period between getting conventional to organic farming practices, and that includes everything from animal treatment, to the treatment of the soil and land in general amongst many other things.

      • TurksetCaicos

        I hope you are convinced now that organic cows in Canada get antibiotics. Kind regards

  • Tom

    Sarah – I like the way you think on this topic! Try the EFAO as a source for farmers that produce a wide variety of food. They’re a really genuine and passionate group of growers. Buying direct from the farmer and having confidence that their values align with your own is more significant than certifications. Buying from a butcher is good but they’ve got bills to pay too. Currently I’m growing certified organic grain and soybeans and have non certified beef. I haven’t certified the cattle because I sell direct to the customer and if they can’t trust me when they visit, they shouldn’t be buying from me. I crave customers that want to take a drive out the farm on a sunny summer day and have a visit with me and see for themselves how the season is coming along. A customer that cares about what they’re buying and eating is what makes it worthwhile for me. The grains on the other hand – I have no clue where they end up or how they’re used or who eats them. Cash cropping is a money generator and a moral crusher. I’m doing less of it as time goes on and will be rid of it before long.
    Thanks for the interesting read!

  • Mariya

    Hi Sarah, any new names of butchers you’d recommend? I noticed that the last post was 4 years ago