Eat Grass: La Cense Beef


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Super chefs are opening steak houses by the cattle car full, like Tom Colicchio's second Craftsteak in New York, Wolfgang Puck's Cut in Los Angeles, and David Burke's Chicago steak restaurant Primehouse, to name a few recent comers.

What is one of the main differences between them? Some offer corn-fed beef, while others also offer grass-fed beef, along with some Wagyu, Kobe, and other kinds of beef. To some extent, what the cow eats, you eat: the taste is markedly different.

Last week Marrion Burros wrote with some urgency in The New York Times about the August 10 ruling by USDA on the definition of "grass-fed":
The Agriculture Department has proposed allowing animals to be labeled grass-fed even if they never saw a pasture and were fed antibiotics and hormones.
La Cense Beef logo

Superchefblog went looking for grass-fed beef that really was grass-fed and found excellent grass-fed steak available on the Internet from La Cense ranch in Dillon, Montana. La Cense comes with a seal of approval from Peter Hoffman of Savoy Restaurant in New York City, a member of the Board of the Chef's Collaborative, an organization that promotes sustainable cuisine. Not only are the Black Angus cattle on the La Cense ranch grass-fed from start to finish, but they are also managed through sustainable farming methods using rotational grazing, which means they feed on a new pasture everyday.

"It is a very good product, " says Hoffman, "it is a great opportunity for the home cook."

The steaks Superchefblog sampled (New York Strip and Porterhouse) were tender, meaty, but lacked that fatty after-taste of grain-fed cattle. A little beef goes a long way to satisfying a carnivore's desires.

La Cense press releases innumerates the health benefits of their beef:
1. La Cense Beef is lower in calories (a 6 oz. grass-fed steak has about 100 fewer calories than a similarly sized steak from a grain-fed cow);
2. higher in levels of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids
3. higher in levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA)
4. which have been shown to help reduce the risk of several types of cancer, diabetes, obesity and several immune disorders;
5. and higher in levels of beta-carotene,
6. due to the cattle's grass diet. In fact, grass-fed beef has twice the level of beta-carotene than grain-fed beef. [5] Grass-fed beef also carries with it a lower risk of infection of E.coli than grain-fed beef
7. Further, since La Cense cattle are fed a natural grass diet that doesn't contain animal by-products or unnatural substances, it reduces the chance of contracting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad-cow disease.
Hoffman says it is easy to taste the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed meat. "We have been fed on (essentially) the same animal fed the same feed all across the nation. Soon we will be able to taste the variations," said Hoffman. It is much like how grapes, coffee and oysters take on very different characteristics of their terroir or part of the sea. The kinds of grasses and the minerals in the soil give La Cense beef a particular taste (even if no one can really tell what that peculiarity is).

So, if you can't get to Tom's, Wolf's or David's place, try grilling your own.

Previous articles:
David Burke: New American Classics
Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak NY
Wolfgang Puck: Eastern Empire
Tom Colicchio: Craftsteak 2
Wolf Want Meat: Wolfgang Puck Steakhouse

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Anonymous Katie said...

A lot of people seem to be thinking this way....it's a nice way to ease your conscious without being a vegetarian. LaCense must have a great PR team--they were featured on this site too.

10:52 AM, February 24, 2010  

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