CA vs. TX Grass-Fed Beef


TX BAR Grassfed is a family-owned farm in northern California and one of the places where I often order grass-fed meat. (US Wellness Meats, Tendergrass Farms, Rocky Mountain Organic Meats, and Lava Lake Lamb are the others.)

TX BAR Grassfed is conducting a survey to see if their California-raised beef tastes different than beef raised in other parts of the country, and they asked me to play along. I love science experiments and grass-fed beef, so I said yes. A big box o’ beef arrived in the mail and it looked like this…

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

… then I bought some grass-fed beef that was raised here in Central Texas, and I got cooking. The only “rules” for the cooking and taste test were that the Texas and California beef needed to be cooked in the same way and with the same seasonings. We fired up the grill for steaks sprinkled with salt and pepper, and we browned ground beef in a skillet, again just seasoned with s&p.

The criteria Dave and I decided to compare were taste, texture, and amount of fat. The texture and the fat content of both California and Texas beef seemed to be about the same: the meat was equally tender in both cases and had adequate marbling but was much leaner than typical corn-feed beef. I wasn’t too surprised by that — I kind of expected them to be similar.

But I was surprised by two other factors:
1. The flavor between the two was subtly different. We really could discern a difference in the taste of the meet from Texas versus the meat from California. And…

2. I’m sorry to say it, Texas, but both Dave and I slightly preferred the flavor of the California beef. It tasted just a little bit meatier and sweeter than the Texas beef. (It’s a good thing I’m moving from Texas soon because that comment could get me kicked out immediately.)

TX Bar Organics is comparing sunny and rainy days in their analysis, so in the interests of science, here’s some data about Texas:


Grass-fed Beef Giveaway

So… why should you care about all of this? Because the nice people atTX BAR Grassfed are offering you a chance to win a $500 gift certificate for grass-fed beef. All you have to do is provide your name and email address, and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Easy-peasy. Enter to win!

Have you ever noticed a geographical taste difference in your grass-fed beef?

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  • Kim says:

    Oh my goodness! Wow!

  • What if I’m already subscribed to their newsletter?

    • Mel says:

      I think you can just fill out the form and you’ll be entered in the contest — no worries about already being subscribed.

  • Elaine says:

    This looks like it would make a fun Science Fair project!

  • Karen says:

    A couple years ago a friend and I swapped packages of our grass fed beef. We had each gotten a quarter beef- ours was from Silvana, WA and hers was from Oregon and was a different kind of cattle and grazed on higher elevation grasslands. They did taste different. Lucky for us we each enjoyed the taste of our cow best.

  • Jennifer says:

    I feel like every single quarter or half we’ve gotten has tasted different. The first was from Northern Pennsylvania, the second from western Maryland, and the third was from northern Maryland. If I had to choose I’d probably rebuy from the western Maryland farmer. They feed their guys pumpkins to supplement 🙂

  • Mel,

    As a little education to you and your readers. If you were to do the same taste test again at a different time of year, you would probably have different results. Grassfed Beef should be a seasonal product and it isn’t because as consumers we expect product year round. Different breeds can have a different flavor profile and different forage definitely have a different flavor profile which changes with the seasons.

    The grasses here in Texas have not started really growing yet (unless they are irrigated) but they have in CA so I would expect the beef from CA to taste better at this time of year.

    For the best product, you want to know your rancher, you want to be familiar with his raising practices (husbandry) and how he treats his animals and finishes his animals. What forages animals are finished on will have a direct impact on the taste.

    I have been involved in grassfed beef for over 17 years either as a consumer or producer. I thought some insight might be helpful. For the last 5 years I have been helping educate producers on how to raise animals on grass and this issue of taste is one that is talked about a lot. 🙂 Hope this helps.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’d go for the local grass-fed option, to be more environmentally responsible. For me, that means Texas GF beef. I like Burgundy Pasture Beef (I get good lamb there too, seasonally). For pork, I can’t get enough of US Wellness, but I hate the shipping and those styrofoam coolers….

  • Elizabeth,

    Try your local farmers market. There is good pastured pork in Waco and Cedar Park at the farmers market and I am sure there is in Ft. Worth/Dallas too. Check for local producers then go visit their places and see how they raise the animals. The owner of US Wellness is an acquaintance of mine (we have served on a board together) but local is always preferable as long as you agree with the way the animals are being raised and what they are feeding. The Taggert’s do a good job at Burgundy too.

  • Alison says:

    Lots of good local beef in VT.