While grass-fed beef currently accounts for only a niche part of the meat market, Grist makes the argument that it should become the agribusiness norm.
One significant hurdle for farmers to overcome in raising grass-fed beef is higher costs, which get passed on to the consumer. Though not profitable in the immediate sense, there potential long-term value of moving to grass-fed is high. As sustainable farmer and agriculture scholar Fred Kirschenmann explains to Grist, “Putting cattle back on pasture will be the beginning of more resilient, less energy-intensive farming systems that are more likely to survive in our future of higher energy costs, unstable climates, and depleted fresh water and mineral resources.”
Beef considered grass-fed come from cows not directed to the “feedlot to be fattened on grain.” Instead, the calves eat grass after the initial period of feeding from the milk of their mothers. Whereas they gain the same amount of weight as cows on a grain diet, grass-fed cows gain weight at a slower pace and “yield a leaner beef” as a result.