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5) Mellow Them with Barley

Finishing pasture/range cattle with grains, such as barley, wheat, and corn, is a common ranching technique. Many believe this practice helps to mellow the “grassy” flavor associated with the pasture. There are strong opinions on this topic, no matter what side of the fence you’re on. Some people think that this technique negates the very idea of eating grass-fed beef, and others simply are looking for a balance of flavors–between grass and grains. What side of the fence are you on?

6) Grass-finished? What the Heck?

Every once in awhile, you see the term “grass-finished” presented on menus. This can be extremely confusing for diners and shoppers who have recently learned all this other stuff, and, suddenly, they see a term that bends their minds in the wrong direction. Does it really matter if cattle are started on grass and finished on mixed grains? Or visa versa? Some aficionados believe that the former is the best way to finish cattle for the market, saying that the animals need more grass in their diets. You be the judge. Don’t forget to bother your waiter real good next time you go to a steakhouse.

7) Zen Cattle

You almost have to be Kobe Bryant-rich in order to afford Kobe beef, which fetches extremely high prices. This trendy style of Japanese beef, in its purest form, comes from the meat of Wagyu cattle that have been butchered in the Hyogo region in Japan. Most American Kobe beef producers crossbreed Wagyu cattle with Black Angus so it’s not considered to be true Kobe beef, yet it still has the intense marbling and rich taste of its Nipponese cousins. In Japan, the cattle are fed a specific diet of special grasses, beans, and rice–not to mention that the ruminants are given rice lager, which stimulates their appetites. The cattle also are occasionally treated to massages (with sake), a practice that relaxes the animals. In America, the Wagyu-Black Angus cattle are given a specific diet but they forgo the spa treatment.

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