According to a study by the International Food Information Council Foundation, the majority of shoppers say taste has the biggest impact on their food choices — more than price, convenience, sustainability, or even nutrition. What that means for producers of grass-fed beef is that they can tout its nutritional and ecological superiority all day long, but if it doesn't taste good, people won’t eat it.
One of the biggest complaints about grass-fed beef is inconsistent taste and off flavors. The reality is, grass-fed beef can taste as good or even better than grain-fed beef — the difference comes down to three key variables: grass, grazing, and genetics.
If grass-fed beef doesn’t get the right forage – the perfect cocktail (as we call it) of mature grasses and legumes – it doesn’t always taste good. A lot of grass-fed cattle are raised in what’s called a “monoculture pasture” where the grasses are at a single root depth, and they draw their mineral content from only one layer of soil. The result is meat that can have a metallic flavor. However when grass-fed cattle are raised in multi-culture pastures, eating forage made up of a variety of grasses and legumes that provide a balanced mineral intake from multiple root depths, there is no metallic taste in the meat.
And it’s not just the variety of things the cattle eat that matters. It also matters when they eat them. Grass-fed beef can have an off-flavor that tastes of liver or game when the cattle’s forage isn’t mature enough and contains too much protein and not enough carbohydrate (sugars). To prevent this, the forage can be measured for Brix. Without getting too scientific, Brix is a measurement of the sugars, amino acids, oils, proteins, flavonoids, minerals and other nutrients in a food. By monitoring Brix levels closely, the cattle can be brought to pasture for grazing when the forage is at optimum maturity, so they only eat the sweetest grass and have the best tasting meat.
Producing great-tasting grass-fed beef isn’t as simple as just switching to a grass-fed diet; you have to start with the right cattle. Most beef produced in America today comes from modern cattle that have been selectively bred to produce larger animals that finish well in a commercial feed lot; they just aren’t built for a grass-based diet. In fact, less than 5% of cattle genetics in the US will produce quality beef on grass.
Our Naked Beef comes from true Aberdeen Angus cattle raised exclusively in multi-cultural pastures eating forage that is mature and sweet. Joyce Farms maintains a bloodline of this prized heritage Aberdeen Angus breed – the original Angus of 18th century Scotland.
There are a lot of different grass-fed beef producers out there, and it’s important to know that not all grass-fed beef is the same. At Joyce Farms, we go to these lengths because we’re just like you – if we’re going to eat our grass-fed beef (and we are), we want it to taste delicious (and it does).