Many people are scared of ground beef. And honestly, you should be afraid if you aren't buying grass-fed beef from a trusted source. Feed-lot beef is not heart healthy and it carries the very real risk of e-coli contamination. Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is lower in saturated fat, higher in omega-3's, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin A and vitamin E (source: Time Magazine).
But I wondered does Grass-fed beef taste any different than Feed-lot beef? I'll cheat and tell you the answer before I finish, the answer is a resounding, YES!!
The picture above shows you the two brands I compared. Honestly, I usually buy my grass-fed beef at one of the local farmer's markets or from Creswick Farms, but I wanted to compare grass-fed beef that anyone can purchase. So I compared Organic Prairie Grass Fed Ground Beef ($5.82 per lb) and the Kroger Ground Round ($2.99 per lb). The organic prairie is obviously more expensive out-of-pocket, but I think the long-term health benefits make it a more economical choice in the long run.
You may wonder about ordering meat online. How does it arrive? Well, here is how it comes. Snuggly wrapped in a cooler box with two cooling packs (my order had more than just meat):
Then I browned it in the pan. I noticed two things when I was browning it. First, the Organic Prairie grass-fed beef had a little more blood in the package. I just drained it out before I put it in the pan. Second, the Kroger brand was stringy. If you look at the top picture you will notice that the Organic Prairie looks a little more chunky, while the Kroger is more mushy. This mushiness was really noticeable as I was trying to break it into chunks while browning it. Here are both of the versions on a plate:
Once they were cooked, I couldn't feel that much of a difference when I rubbed the crumbles between my fingers.
Then I cooked it up into this stuffed eggplant and our family did a little taste test. First we ate the eggplants that were stuffed with the grass-fed beef. They were good. Then we ate the ones stuffed with the feed-lot beef. The feed-lot beef filling was tasteless. While the grass-fed beef picked up all the other flavors and tied the stuffing mixture ingredients together, the fed-lot filling was just filling. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good...it was just there.
For a long time I considered myself to be a failure at all of my mother-in-laws recipes because they never tasted as good as hers. But since our family has switched to the grass-fed beef I am finally tasting some success. She lives in Malta where feed-lots don't exist, so it wasn't my cooking skills, it was the beef. :-)
UPDATE: This post is getting a lot of traffic for the term "where to buy grass fed beef in Michigan" with slight variations. If you found this page through that search, I suggest you head on over to my Southeastern Michigan Local Organic Food Sources Guide to find a few suppliers that I know of who sell grass-fed beef in Michigan.