Posted May 16, 2011 08:02 pm – Updated May 18, 2011 08:35 am
By: Jenel Few
You can get beefy in more ways than one at the Crossfit Hyperformance Gym in Savannah.
The fitness training center is offering a cow-pooling service, which allows its customers to pool their resources to buy grass-fed beef from Hunter Cattle Co. in Brooklet.
“Good nutrition is part of any successful physical regimen, which is why we are so passionate about grass-fed beef,” says Crossfit Coach Jennifer McKenzie. “It’s a healthier type of beef to be eating.”
Beef from cows that feed on grass is believed to be healthier than the beef most commonly served in the U.S., which comes from cows that are fed grain and hormones.
A study by the Chico State University College of Agriculture in California found that grass-fed beef is lower in total fat than the grain-fed beef Americans are accustomed to.
It is also higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s and cancer fighting antioxidants.
But grass-fed beef isn’t easy to find locally. Hunter Cattle Co. sells cuts of its grass-fed beef at the Forsyth Park Farmers Market from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, and a handful of Savannah restaurants feature grass-fed meat dishes on their menus, including Green Truck on Habersham, Cha-bella on East Broad Street and Thrive Carryout Café on Whitmarsh Island.
As the grass-fed craze catches on, some retail stores have begun to sell grass-fed beef. But consumers should check the labels carefully.
Some of it is beef from cows that were grass fed most of their lives, then grain finished. That means they are fed grain in the months prior to slaughter to fatten them up.
Dr. Sandy Streater, Armstrong Atlantic State University professor and chair of health sciences, said true free-range, organic, grass-fed beef is healthier, but beef pumped with hormones and fed on chemically treated grass isn’t.
And grass-fed beef isn’t cheap. Various cuts of grass-fed beef can be ordered online for $5 to $8 per pound compared to $2 to $5 for comparable grain-fed cuts.
Crossfit’s cow-pooling service will allow health-conscious carnivores to get more grass-fed, grass-finished beef for less money. Hunter Cattle Co. cattle graze on open pastures and are never fed grain, animal byproducts, or confined to a feedlot.
“Groups can divide up the cost for one cow, which is about $2,000, and they share the meat,” McKenzie said. “It is cheaper than buying the meat by the cut.”
But beef connoisseurs be warned, some say the grass-fed variety has a slightly grassy aroma, soapy flavor and tough texture.
“From a health standpoint, it is probably a healthier product,” Streater said. “But from a taste and tenderness standpoint, it may not be. It would depend on preference.”
And many studies show that any lean beef, grass- or corn-fed, can be eaten interchangeably with fish or skinless chicken to reduce cholesterol.
But Austin Behle, a Crossfit coach who dined on a healthy salad and grass-fed burger from Green Truck on Wednesday didn’t seem to detect any difference in taste.
“That’s good,” he said.