Monthly Archives: February 2010


Looking forward to the Start Up West Michigan Weekend, February 26-28th.  Hopefully many great ideas find the secret sauce during the 48 hours of brainstorming, networking and development.   Yours truly is taking advantage of this opportunity to help out and also to introduce Grilladelic Apparel and Accessories, a line of merchandise that celebrates the joy of cooking over an open fire as well as connects families, neighborhoods, local businesses and farms.  You will need to stay tuned, as the Grilladelic story will be rolled out low and slow but your patience will be rewarded!

There is still time to register for Start Up West Michigan Weekend, just visit the website and follow the links.

Posted via email from johnrumery’s in search of the secret sauce


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Ali vs. Frazier

Following up on my previous “grass-fed” post, here is another angle.   My only qualms are that it appears different cuts of meat were used to produce the burger.  I think the fairest way would be to use ground bottom round or chuck in all three samples.  Maybe it is my midwestern roots, but I have never ground a brisket to make a burger.  Never.

If you want to replicate this yourself, try Creswick Farms for your grass-fed beef.  I discovered a little controversy amng the purists with Heffron Farms…apparently Heffron is grass-fed but finished with grain, so not technically grass-fed.  I know, slightly confusing to the consumer. “Labeling” remains a big issue.

Enjoy the blog post from The Burger Lab  This is a seriously good blog!

The Burger Lab: Which Makes A Better Burger, Grass-Fed or Grain?

It’s time for another round of The Burger Lab. Got a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Email Kenji here, and he’ll do his best to answer your queries in a future post. Become a fan of The Food Lab on Facebook


Clockwise from left: a RUB burger, Pat La Frieda’s beef, and well-marbled sirloin. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

There are many reasons that one would choose to eat grass-fed beef over grain-fed. Nicer to the cows? Certainly. Farms that are prettier to look at? Definitely. Better for the environment? Well, probably.

But the real question, and the question we’re going to hopefully answer today: How does it taste?

Proponents of grass-fed claim that it has a more robust, gamier, “beefier” flavor, while those who favor grain-fed tout the greater amount of intramuscular fat (known as marbling), which melts as the beef cooks, basting it, keeping it moist, and providing richness. But which camp is correct? A double-blind tasting was clearly in order.

Contender #1: Grass-Fed


Organic grass-fed beef raised in Wyoming from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. For a grass-fed beef, this stuff was surprisingly well marbled. One of the advantages of a burger as opposed to a steak or a roast is that the amount of fat in the finished product is easily modified. In this case, I added a bit of extra fat from the cap on the short rib in order to keep the fat content about level with that of the grain-fed beef.

Contender #2: Grain-Fed, High-Quality


Creekstone Farm‘s Premium Black Angus beef, butchered and distributed by Pat La Frieda. The same beef that goes into some of New York’s best burgers, including those at Shake Shack, Minetta Tavern, Bill’s Bar and Burger, and Burger Joint. The cuts themselves are deeply marbled, and produce burgers that are correspondingly fatty.

Contender #3: Grain-Fed, Low Quality


USDA select grade beef from my local NSA Supermarket. While the short ribs pictured here have a fair amount of fat, distributed in largish swaths, the meat itself, and particularly the sirloin and brisket, have almost no marbling (as is typical of Select grade meat —the third tier down on the USDA’s quality scale). I tried to compensate as best I could by including some extra fat from the short rib, but even so, these patties ended up significantly leaner than the other two.

The Tasting

I assembled a rag-tag bunch of crack tasters and misfits (I won’t tell you who belongs in which category) for the job: Slice editor Adam Kuban, A Hamburger Today editor Robyn Lee, the main man Ed Levine, AHT contributor Nick Solares, myself, and Burger Conquest bloggers Rev and Jackie.

The good folks at RUB BBQ, one of New York’s finest producers of “smashed” burgers, kindly agreed to host our tasting by cooking their burgers with beef handed off to them in hush-hush tones and at a pre-determined location, delivered in packages marked simply with a number. They were instructed to destroy the bags after removing the beef, and to serve us one type of beef at a time. In the interest of eliminating all bias, they were served in random order, only revealing this order after all burgers had been tasted.


All talk of beef, grass, and burgers was suppressed until after the last burger was tasted, considered, and commented on.

Every batch of beef was ground in the same meat grinder fitted with a 1/4-inch die, and made with the same ratios of meat (a modified version of our Blue Label Burger Blend, with short rib substituted for oxtail, as grass-fed oxtail was unavailable), delivered to the restaurant, and cooked within 2 hours of grinding. We tasted each burger in two different forms: as a naked hamburger (patty and bun only), and as a “RUB” burger, which includes cheese, pickles, and caramelized onions. No flash photography was allowed, and conversation was limited to predetermined topics including Ed’s saxophone skills, the Coriolis effect, and Cleaving. All talk of beef, grass, and burgers was suppressed until after the last burger was tasted, considered, and commented on.

The Tasting


Naked burger and RUB burger.

Tasters were given tasting sheets to fill out, which included sections for comments on flavor and texture, and then asked to rank the burgers in order of favorite to least favorite after all burgers had been tasted and accounted for.

The good news? We were quite easily able to pick out the low-quality burger meat from the other two—score-wise, it lost by a landslide, taking the bottom spot on all except two taster’s score sheets. Comments ranged from “does not taste like a hamburger should,” to “sawdusty,” and “sandy and dry.”

The reason? It has to do with this:


Select-grade vs. Pa La Frieda.

As you can easily see, the select-grade beef on the left has almost no fat, while the Pat La Frieda beef on the right has tons of marbling. At least we know one thing for certain: You can’t make a good burger with bad beef.

The Pat La Frieda beef was praised for it’s “straighforward burger flavor,” and “juicy, slightly crunchy [crust],” by some tasters, though others felt that the texture was “pulpy” or “grainy,” and that the burgers didn’t hold together well enough. Admittedly, part of the quality and appeal of La Frieda’s burgers probably comes from the way in which they grind it (with a Volkswagen Beetle-sized grinder in a in a refrigerated room), because none of the La Frieda burgers I’ve had at other restaurants have shown the pebbly, grainy quality which these patties had.

But the overall winner? The grass-fed. It sported some of the same pebbliness of the La Frieda beef (again, probably due to the grinding), but had a “definite funkiness,” a “slight gaminess,” with “mineral” flavors, and overall was the “beefiest” burger of the lot.

The Wild Card Contender: Pre-Ground Beef


In the interest of pure curiosity, I decided to also include a sample of 85/15 ground chuck that I bought from the Union Square Whole Foods. The butcher on duty swore that it was ground fresh within hours of when it was purchased (I trust him—I’ve never lied to him, so what reason does he have to lie to me?). I figured that any kind of store-ground product would be left in the dust, but the Whole Food’s beef was a controversial contender, claiming the #1 spot of three different taster’s sheets, being praised for it’s juiciness and fine texture, while others panned it as being “too dense”, with a “greasy, mild taste.”

Admittedly, the results of this tasting are far from conclusive. This is but round one in a battle that is sure to continue until either the cows all die, the grass all disappears, or human beings go extinct (I’m hoping the third will occur first, because what’s the point in living in a world where you can’t feel the grass between your toes and the beef between your teeth?). Immediate questions come to mind: Could I make the ultimate burger by bringing the grass-fed beef to La Frieda’s grinder? How would the Whole Food’s ground chuck fare if it was ground on my machine at home? Will a decent butcher ever move into my neighborhood of Prospect Heights, or must I be content with the NSA Supermarket’s lean offerings?

My mind simultaneously reels and rouses at the volume of burgers that must be consumed in the name of science…

About the author: After graduating from MIT, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt spent many years as a chef, recipe developer, writer, and editor in Boston. He now lives with his wife in New York, where he runs a private chef business, KA Cuisine, and co-writes the blog about sustainable food enjoyment.


I bought a 1/2 grass fed cow over the summer, and it’s well marbled in the cuts that should be. I think the skill of the farmer has a lot to do with how the final beef turns out though. My beef was also dry aged, which helps to contribute to the flavor.

if you really want to scientifically compare grass-fed vs grain-fed, you need to get genetically identical cows (are twins rare in cows?), feed grass vs grain, and age the meat exactly the same… 😉

One thing you can do to up the fattiness, and flavor, of your beef burger meat, whether you’re using grass fed or grain fed, is to add near frozen butter cubes to your pre-grind beef cubes, and grind it all up together. Use a high quality cultured cream butter, unsalted of course. It works like a charm in creating decadent, juicy, flavorful patties.

The Whole Foods preground beef is so, so not good. Flavor, sure. Juiciness, sure. But this one ranked dead last on my list* because of its dense, finely ground texture. It’s just horrible as a burger meat.

*Yes, I was one of the two who did not rank the Select beef as last. I had it third. I had to give the WF beef last place—even though it was pretty juicy—because of the blah texture.

Meatloaf patties, simon. That’s the result when you mix anything in with the meat.

You haven’t tried it obviously.

Mmmm sounds like it was a tasty test even for the lowest scoring burger!

Why the 3/8 inch die? I’ve always preferred the 1/4 inch and your “Blue label burger” instructions are for 1/4 inch. Maybe the 3/8 inch die contributed to the pulpy or grainy quality?

So of 8 testers, 3 said Whole Foods ground chuck made the best burgers? Interesting. Which burgers did the other 5 pick as best?

If you need to add butter to your burger grind you’re doing it wrong.

As MoEats mentioned grass fed beef varies widely. In my area we are lucky enough to be able to by grass fed beef directly from multiple local ranchers. One of the best raises her cattle “grass-fed” for most of their life and they are “finished” with organic grain grown on the ranch. it seems to produce the most desireable beef flavor and texture wise.

@DZ: For the record, I picked La Frieda. I think I was the one who made the “most straightforward ‘burger’ flavor” comment. I guess I’ve been conditioned to love the La Frieda by all my burger meals at Shake Shack. (As much as I am loath to admit it, since I often think all the La Frieda foaming by people is a little insane.)

@Burger365 – you have no idea what you’re talking about. I learned the technique from some very highly regarded chefs. I’ve done it, it’s delicious.

@simon That’s cute.

Thats the best you’ve got? Look. I am really not interested in getting into an argument with you, and subsequently hijacking this thread. If you want to have a closed mind, that’s your problem. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy my butter burgers.

@simon & Burger365: I think the butter in the grind is an interesting idea especially if you had to lean of meat to begin with. I have seen many recipes that call for putting butter in the patty, etc. one of the “chefs” that made a burger like this was Paula Deen

On another note I’d love to see the chart or full results of the burger tasting:-)

Nice work! Been in NY for about 2 months now. Relocated from CA. NY has amazing food but CA does burgers better, by a wide margin. Not sure why. Here they are either crap or way over complicated. My search continues!

@simon Not to burst your bubble, but adding butter to a burger grind is not some super secret trick of highly regarded chefs. Chefs and home cooks have done this through the ages, it’s called “larding.” While sure if you are stuck in a bind, say you’re beef order turns out to not be as marbled as you thought and you don’t have any extra beef fat on hand butter is a good choice. However, if you source your beef right there should be absolutely no reason you need to include chunks of it with the griding beef. With the right beef blend (my personal favorite is brisket, sirloin, and short rib) you should be able to achieve the fat ratio you are looking for and have a clean, pure beef flavor. Sure I LOVE butter and it even makes it’s way into my burgers, but it’s on the bun for toasting or maybe even slather the patty with some while it cooks. As many burger lovers have, I’ve grinded butter in with the blend to give it a try. It’s not bad, but it does take away from the beef flavor. A burger composed of freshly ground beef, seasoned simply just before cooking, and cooked properly has no need for such superfluous additions as butter. But hey if you like it, keep enjoying it.


Oops – I meant 1/4 inch die. Thanks for the catch – fixed.

@people fighting over butter
Butter can be good in a grind, if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I think it detracts from the overall “beefiness” of the patty. You can clearly taste that there’s butter in it. It does make for a juicy burger though, and some people like the effect of melted butter oozing out of a patty. Then again, some people also like putting ketchup on their eggs. To each their own. If you like it, do it, if you don’t, then don’t. The only “wrong” way to do something with food is to eat something that doesn’t taste delicious to you.

@Daniel Zemans
Three picked the grass-fed, two picked the LaFrieda. The Whole Foods was contentious though – some really liked, others really hated. It was definitely ground a lot finer and a lot mushier than the other three, which meant it held together more tightly, and retained a bit more moisture. I left it as the wild card, because it’s impossible to judge whether it’s the beef, the grind or any number of other factors (the storage, for example) that affect it’s flavor and texture, and may have made it better or worse in some people’s eyes. There are too many variables to account for, so I can’t come out and say, “Whole Foods beef is great!” or “Whole Foods beef sucks!” because that part of the testing was not really fairly or scientifically performed.

Why short ribs instead of a third brisket? I’m also curious about why grass-fed is only considered “possibly” more environmentally friendly?


Follow the link attached to the word “probably.” It takes you to a recent article from Discovery about how many groups of independent researchers have separately come to the conclusion that as far as carbon footprint goes, feedlot beef is actually better than grass fed beef, mostly because cows in a feedlot produce less methane and have a shorter lifespan (they put on meat faster) than grass-fed cows.

However, critics (myself amongst them), point out that carbon emissions is not the only measure of environmental impact. The studies do not take into account factors like impact on air and water supplies, nor do they take into account the carbon sink of a large field of grass for the grass-fed beef to graze on (critics of the critics would probably point out that feedlot beef are fed with grain, which are grown in fields that also create a carbon sink).

The point of the “probably” is that the debate is not as cut and dry as people on either side make it out to be. Personally, I’m happy for the time being to let someone else calculate carbon footprints. I choose grass-fed organic beef at the market most of the time (when it’s available, that is) because a) it tastes better, b)it’s nicer to the cows, and c)feedlots are ugly ugly things, aesthetically, and from a good animal husbandry standpoint.

@Burger365 – where did I say that this was some sort of secret? You’re not bursting anyone’s bubble, and I’m quite familiar with the concept of larding. When I was shown the butter in the grind technique, it appealed to me because I love decadence in my food. It was something that had not occurred to me to do. I’ve subsequently done this too boost lean meat, as well doing it with already very fatty cuts like chuck or short rib.

It is highly personal. Personally, I don’t think the butter flavor “takes away” anything. To me is ADDS flavor to the beef, it complements it, it heightens it. Butter and beef are a delicious pairing. And it makes the burgers very juicy.

The only “wrong” way to do something with food is to eat something that doesn’t taste delicious to you.

Exactly. Burger365’s comments are out of line and immature.

Before you did the testing, did your tasters know that they were tasting grain vs grass fed beef? Do you think your results might have been different had you told (lied to) them that they were testing different cuts of beef?


Hey sis. Finally decided to join the S.E. community, huh?

I did think of that before setting up the tasting, but then I figured, “what’s the point?” Anybody who buys grass fed beef in a store or orders it at a restaurant is sure going to know that it’s grass fed anyway, and that’s going to have an effect on how it tastes to them.

Also, in tastings like this you find that a lot of differences are quite subtle, so unless you know what you are looking out for, it’s hard to distinguish whether something is truly a result of the different options in the tasting, or some unaccounted for variable (for example, some of these burgers definitely had more char on them than others, while others were more highly seasoned, but since we knew that the tasting was just about grass-feeding, and the correspondingly differently flavored beef that results, we could try and filter out those other differences).

After trying completely un-informed tastings in the past, it’s just frustrating to review the data, because some people end up focusing in on some factors, while others focus in on others, making it impossible to tally results in any meaningful way.

I think that part of the problem there is that your experiment is set up to quantify the difference between beefs, but your actual stated goal is to find the beef that makes the best burger. In order to do that you can’t just hold all the variables constant (in this case, for example, using identical fat content, or using the same cuts of beef) because it’s possible that the BEST possible burger made from grain-fed beef is better than the BEST possible burger made from grass-fed beef, if you were to modify the cuts and fat content chosen for each meat type. Burgers are a (very tasty) multivariate optimization problem! Modifying one variable may be instructive, but it’s not going to give you the best burger, it’s only going to tell you that given a particular set of parameters held constant, one burger is better than another.

@DZ – I picked the Whole Foods. Grass fed while good is not my fave. I think fatty, greasy, old-school, salty tasting, all-American burgers. I know Jackie felt the same.

The real win here was neither the grass fed, nor Pat or Whole Foods. The victory came in eating 6 burgers RUB style. It is my fave burger in NYC and it will take some kind of burger miracle to score a better beef touchdown than that!

@chennes – good points. May I suggest a playoff system? There are essentially two “leagues” here, Grass vs. Grain. There could be a tasting to determine the best meat blend for each league, the winners would be the best of each. They would go face to face. Would that help? I’m not a statistician, nor an engineer, but I think I understand your points, and think this kind of playoff system might be able to determine the best burger, while reducing the variability you mention.

Simon buddy, please stop calling your butter patties ‘burgers.’ Once you add anything to the meat, you just made a meatloaf.

see above.

simon make your burgers however the heck you like! Some people just like to complain or get a reaction.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt thanks for all the great info.

BurgerConquest , I love “The victory came in eating 6 burgers…” but I can’t believe you like Del Taco burgers that much, haha!

adv, you think CA does burgers better? What type?

I watched the documentary about corn. They mentioned that the plant itself is actually a grass, while of course, the corn is a grain. So, are the evil feedlots feeding their cow corn, grown by their buddies the good-guy grass feeders? I mean the corn stalk plants have to somewhere, don’t they? I don’t really expect an answer, it just seems ironic if cows are getting fed grass and the grass is corn.

All of it is way too much trouble. I like a good burger just like the next person, but I buy all my 85/15 hamburger meat preground at *gasp* Wal-Mart. I season it and let it marinate overnight. I think the taste test is interesting, but really, how many people eat their burgers mostly plain with no cheese or condiments to really tell the difference between grain fed & corn fed. There’s also the consideration that even out here in the Great Plains, in the stores or even in rural areas one can’t buy grass fed beef. Why? It’s all shipped out to the coasts because they’ve convinced people its better tasting or better for the environment. I’ll stick to my 80/20 and be happy!

@J. Kenji Lopez-Alt – great article, again. You pulled together some top notch testers.

@Adam Kuban – You bring up a good point in your WF comment. I’ve noticed that the less dense burger which you noted as grind factor, can be a big factor in my burger preference. I’ve also noticed a gentler, less worked packed burger during patty making, makes a big difference in my preference for a good burger. Since an overworked burger patty was probably not a variable in this test, the grind does have a big impact assuming the fat % is the same including quality.

@BurgerConquest – glad to see your comment on the WF burger. I’ve bought buffalo grind from WF several times and baste with butter during grilling and have loved them. After reading @Adam’s comment on the WF grind was convinced on not trying their chuck grind. After seeing your vote of confidence, I will.

Seriously, I get what simon is doing. It’s like making a butter burger but with the butter distributed in the patty to start instead of basting it in butter melted in the pan.

@ratbuddy: Really? Anything? What about salt? Does cheese melting into the meat on a cheeseburger make it a meatloaf sandwich instead? Do you also like correcting people’s grammar? BTW, isn’t meatloaf supposed to be shaped like, you know, a loaf or something like that and not a disk? I mean…if you want to try to get technical about stuff…

No wunami, putting cheese on top doesn’t make it meatloaf.. Anything mixed in with the meat though? Yes, that’s no longer a burger, it’s a meatloaf patty. That includes salt, pepper, butter, or whatever. A burger is just beef. Nothing else.

RossS has swerved into the truth.

” grass fed” is 99% marketing as is “organic”

Most of these “hip” granolly types see “Grass Fed” and they think “Rasta cows “Yeah ,far out . I’ll have some a that butcher dude.

Butter comes from bovines, therefore it is of beef.

That’s interesting. The only grass feed organic meat I’ve tried is from Wegmans. They get their meat for Uruguay. It sucks – no marbling at all. Tastes like my slippers.

I buy my grass fed beef locally. It is delicious. Find a farmer. Know your cow.

@ MissBrownEyes

uh….why are you here then?

I was interested in what other people had to say about grass fed beef. Most beef sold in Wegman’s and Whole Foods is grass finished. Different from grass fed. Why are you here?

@Simon You and your butter burgers sound sexy. Come to Miss MunchyBuns and feed her some of that meat.

(sorry! couldn’t resist hehehee!)

hey guys.

I too have been doing some serious taste testing similar to those you have described above.

Here are some key findings:

@simon: true, *salt* and some other seasonings will make your burger into meatloaf. BUT that does not mean all things will. next time you ground your meat, mix in a combination of eggs and heavy cream (1 egg, 4 Tbps of cream per 1.5 pounds of meat). sure, this will take away a tiny bit of that ‘beefy flavor.’ but it will more than compensate by letting the meat rise a little while cooking, and will give it a tenderness and juiciness that is unparalleled.

secondly, grass fed beef tastes better, hands down. BUT it is leaner. so, if you follow the recipe above, it will be almost as tender and juicy as grain-fed beef.

by the way i use a combination of (mostly) brisket, some sirloin, and sometimes a little short rib. freshly ground, of course.

Wow….PLF really has all these Manhattan chefs snowed

Kenji: I’ve been a lurker for a while and I think you contribute a lot to the subject. This was a good tasting, and I know you understand science so I guess we should probably consider this a single blind, not double. I suppose the definitive answer could be found in doing numerous repetitions, but why bother. This is good info, better than anecdotal info because of the expertise of the panel.

simon: Butter is a good thing to add when you feel like it. Makes a tasty burger. It is, after all, fat from cream from a cow, so it is not dissimilar from adding beef fat, it is just processed a bit bu the cow and the dairy.

ratbuddy: You are not allowed to redefine words like burger and meatloaf. They have a long history of popular usage and dictionary precedent. You may personally believe that addition of salt, pepper, butter, etc. makes it meatloaf, and one can make the aesthetic argument pro and con, but linguistics experts would slap you down in a moment. Cling to your philosophy and make your burgers the way you like, but be careful about pushing your fundamentalist religion on others.

For those who like such semantic arguments, here’s my take on the debate between the folks who argue about what is barbecue and what is grilling.


Maybe I didn’t explain the set-up clearly enough in the description of the tasting, but it was indeed a double-blind tasting, as neither the tasters, nor the ones administering the test (myself, and the people cooking the burgers) knew which burgers were which until after all of the data were collected and analyzed. I work pretty hard to eliminate any bias in these tests (including my own!), and I think for the most part, we do a good job.

Granted, the tasting subjects were not isolated from each other during the tasting, so there was some degree of influence between tasters during the experiment, but we did try and limit conversation during the tasting about burgers in general, and not about the actual burgers we were tasting.

The one thing I shouldn’t ave gone into more detail about is that not all grass-fed is the same, and not all grain-fed is the same. For the purpose of this experiment, the grass-fed samples and grain-fed samples I chose were from the extreme ends of both scales. The grass-fed was a true pastured organic beef, not just feedlot cows that are fed a diet of underdeveloped corn shoots (which are also technically “grass-fed”), and the two grain-fed beef samples were taken from the highest and lowest quality sources I could reasonably find in the city.

It’d be interesting to do a test of only grass-fed beef to gauge how wide the spectrum of quality is.

On the topic of juiciness and flavor, could it be that using 85/15 or 80/20 lean ground beef depends on how you like the burger cooked? Additional fat would cause more surface charring, but a more succulent burger when cooked rare to medium rare. Less fat would yield more even coloring yet become drier when cooked longer.

I only prefer butter anywhere near my burger if it is cooked the old-fashioned way in a cast-iron pan (as opposed to grilled). But I never add it directly to the beef. After flipping the burger once, you should notice that it is perfectly seared. Now, you add butter to the pan and constantly spoon it over the burger. Keep doing this. You’ll notice that it essentially cooks the burger and all that flavor oozes into the ground beef. If you notice the butter is burning, rest the pan on something that diffuses the heat and continue spooning. The residual heat will continue to cook the burger without sacrificing the butter. I’ve never heard anyone complain about lack of juiciness when they ate a burger this way.

I think the grass fed taste test would be awesome.

Right now, I am forgoing cows and lambs for chicken, turkey and seafood. Cow that grazes on grass contribute to negative global impact than if cows were to be fed grains. Cows that consume more than their body weight, tends to generate global gases which can harm our environment than if we were to go vegetarian, or even vegan. Oh yeah, I rather eat a turkey burger than a typical cowabunga burger.

@anibeth: I sure hope you eat things because you enjoy them not because you think youre “saving the planet” – lifes to short for that:-)

@rrrahu1: I think you’re trying to talk to ratbuddy there. And ratbuddy is apparently going to consider your eggs and cream hamburger patties to be meatloaf.

This debate is getting to be as dumb as the one regarding beans and chili. Anyway, I’d like some salt on my hamburger (but only if it’s done right before cooking). If that means some random people on the internet consider it meatloaf…then oh well. I’m going with what Kenji said early on: To each their own. If you like it, do it, if you don’t, then don’t.

Loved this! Thanks for opening up both my eyes, my mouth and my stomach to the differences in ground beef. Almost makes me want to get down on my hands and knees in the backyard and munch on a little grass.

“Cow that grazes on grass contribute to negative global impact than if cows were to be fed grains.”


I prefer grass fed because for one thing the cow’s digestive system is set up to digest green leafy grasses and forbs, not startchy grains. Look up some stuff about what grain does to a cow’s digestive system. It’s not pretty. (I would not recommend looking that up around lunch time.)

Grass fed beef is one of those instances where doing the ethically better thing is also the thing that tastes better. I love it when that happens!

As for environmental impact, a pasture is much easier on the Earth than a plowed grain field. Ideally (if the rancher is doing it right), a pasture with cows grazing on it mimics the natural state of the Great Plains, just with cows replacing bison. The native grasses of North America are adapted to being routinely grazed by large animals, to the point that it’s actually GOOD for them (though overgrazing is bad). I find it hard to believe that mimicking how the plains were before humans even arrived could be worse for the environment than plowing it up, which tears up the sod and soil structure and allows it to erode away (especially bad with certain soil types, some take plowing worse than others). In natural pasture it would always be covered with living plant material which holds the soil together.

Perrenial, sod-forming prairie grasses are most certainly NOT the same thing as corn, as one commenter proposed, and I’ve never heard of anyone feeding cattle corn stalks and calling that “grass-fed”.

Basically… I agree that carbon footprint is not the end all of environmental impact. I have a Master’s degree in wildlife biology, and I know that a well-managed ranch is MUCH more biologically diverse than a cornfield, allowing lots of native plant and animal species to live alongside the cows. Of course it’s not as nice as a preserve or national park or something, but it does allow us to get food from a piece of land without destoying it under a plow and killing all the wildlife that had been living there before.

Besides taste, cows don’t like grains. Cows eat grass. Stop talking about the silly marmbling in the meat, add a more fatty part if you want that or butter. All that fat is bad for you and the only way cows create it is by feeding them to much calories. Grain is bad for their stomachs as well, produces to much acid. Pasture is better than grain, in the end most of grainland ends up in the ocean.

My client-La Cense Beef- offers grass fed beef burgers and they are delicious. They also have great recipes online.

Ahh no wunami, I think you misunderstand my position. Putting stuff on the surface of a burger (salt and pepper are almost mandatory) doesn’t make it meatloaf. It’s when you actually mix something in with the ground meat that it ceases to be a hamburger.

I like grass-fed beef for many reasons. In the cases I’ve tried it, the burgers were amazing and so was the steak. Of course, there are other things that can affect the taste and texture, such as different parts of the cow and what you add to the burger. One of the main reasons I like grass fed besides taste is the thought of feedlots. As much as I can’t afford organic and grass-fed too much, I would like my meat (or at least the beef) to come from a cow eating like it’s supposed to and being like it’s supposed to. I compensate by just buying less meat in general (my contribution to the environment, so good ^_^). In terms of meatloaf-type burgers, I’ve tried all kinds: plain beef burgers, burgers with breadcrumbs and sour cream, ones with onions, chicken burgers, salmon burgers, pork burgers etc. Hamburger or meatloaf, they were good, good, good.

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