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Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo by Stanley A. Fishman
By Stanley A. Fishman
Link to Tender Grassfed Meat at Amazon
By Stanley A. Fishman



I am an attorney and an author, not a doctor. This website is intended to provide information about grassfed meat, what it is, its benefits, and how to cook it. I will also describe my own experiences from time to time. The information on this website is being provided for educational purposes. Any statements about the possible health benefits provided by any foods or diet have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

I do receive some compensation each time a copy of my book is purchased. I receive a very small amount of compensation each time somebody purchases a book from Amazon through the links on this site, as I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program.

—Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat


Why Is Fattier Grassfed Meat Best?

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Grass-fed sirloin roast with a delicious, nutritious fat cap.

Grassfed sirloin roast, with a delicious, nutritious fat cap.

Our culture has a phobia about animal fat. The horrid nutritional guidelines just issued by the U.S. government tell us to eat meat only occasionally, and eat only lean meat. This is truly a shame, because animal fat from pastured animals contains many vital nutrients that are easily absorbed and hard to get elsewhere. Animal fat from grassfed animals also gives great taste, tenderness, and satisfaction (unlike the lumpy, greasy fat so prevalent in factory meat).

All grassfed meat is leaner than factory meat. Many producers advertise how lean their grassfed meat is. Some grassfed meat is much leaner, and some contains more fat. So which is better? For our ancestors, the choice was simple. Fat meat was desirable and cherished—lean meat was eaten to avoid starvation or thrown to the dogs.

For me, the answer is also simple. Most of the nutrients in grassfed beef are in the fat. Fattier cuts of grassfed meat have more flavor and come out more tender. The fattier the better, when it comes to grassfed meat.

Grassfed Fat vs. Factory Fat

There is a great difference in the content and composition of the fat of grassfed animals and the fat of factory animals finished in the feedlot.

The fat of grassfed animals has a much higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids, has much more CLA, and is much richer in other nutrients. The fat of feedlot-finished factory animals has a much higher omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, much less CLA, and contains substances from the feed that get stored in the fat.

The fat in grassfed meat appears both as a covering over the cut of meat, and in small white flecks that can be seen in the meat itself. These small flecks are called marbling. The fat of feedlot-finished factory meat also appears as a covering, but it can often be seen in the meat itself as thick, blocky veins of fat, or lumps of fat. No grass finished meat has this appearance.

I personally find the fat in grassfed meat to be delicious and satisfying. It smells so good when the meat cooks that it makes me very hungry. I find the fat in feedlot-finished factory meat to be greasy, unpleasant, and downright disgusting. Factory meat does not satisfy me, and leaves me hungry and bloated. Grassfed meat always leaves me feeling satisfied and good—which is one of the main reasons why I only eat grassfed and grass finished  meat.

What about the Studies?

The media often publicizes studies that claim that eating meat, especially fat meat, is unhealthy.

While I never blindly believe any study, knowing how flawed and biased they can be (though some are completely valid, you just have to study the details), I have noticed two important points that make them inapplicable to grassfed meat and fat:

  1. All of these studies include the eating of highly processed factory meat, meat that is full of preservatives and chemicals, such as luncheon meat. It is impossible to know if the negative results claimed by the studies come from the meat or the chemicals.
  2. None of these studies are limited to the eating of pastured meat processed without the use of chemicals, but are based almost totally on feedlot-finished factory meat that has been raised with artificial hormones, chemicals, antibiotics, species-inappropriate feed, and other factors that were never used by our ancestors. It is impossible to know if the negative results claimed by the studies come from the meat or the hormones, chemicals, antibiotics, species-inappropriate feed, or other factors, or any combination of them.

The main studies we have on the nutritional effects of traditional meats, fats, and diets are the customs of our ancestors, and the vital research of Dr. Weston A. Price. These traditions and the research of Dr. Price support the health benefits of eating traditional unprocessed animal fats.

Why Fattier Grassfed Meat Is Better than Leaner Grassfed Meat

Once again, the traditions of our ancestors are the key to understanding. Every traditional meat eating culture preferred fat meat to lean meat. Traditional recipes for meat always make sure that it is cooked and eaten with plenty of fat, with roasts being inevitably covered by a glorious crown of their own magnificent fat. The most prized, luxurious cuts of meat were always the fattest.

Traditional Inuit were known to reserve the organ meats, fatty meats, and fat for themselves, while throwing the really lean meat to their dogs.

The most valued traditional foods included the fats of pastured animals, with lard, beef tallow, goose fat, duck fat, and chicken fat being heavily used for cooking in traditional Europe. The Native Americans used bear fat, bison fat, and the fat from other game. Lamb fat was prized in the Middle East, where breeds of lamb were raised that had huge tails composed almost completely of fat, which was used in all kinds of cooking. Lard was the most important fat in China, used for cooking almost everything.

I am convinced that cooking traditions reflect the collective experience of the people who have them, representing thousands of years of trial and error, passed down from parent to child, from teacher to student. The wisdom of these traditions was proved by Dr. Weston A. Price, who discovered that traditional peoples eating their traditional diets were completely free of the chronic diseases that afflicted modern peoples, remaining healthy and vigorous into extreme old age. Every one of the peoples studied by Dr. Price only ate meat with plenty of fat.

An example of this wisdom is pemmican, a staple preserved food of the Native Americans who lived on the Great Plains of the United States. Pemmican consisted of dried bison meat, dried cherries, and a great deal of bison fat. The Native Americans knew that the fat was absolutely necessary for the pemmican to sustain life.

Most of the nutrients in grassfed meat are in the fat, not the meat itself. Very lean grassfed beef, that has no visible marbling, will have fewer nutrients than grassfed meat that is nicely marbled. A roast that has all the fat cover trimmed off will have fewer nutrients than a roast cooked with a cover of its own natural fat.

I have found that the fattier the grassfed meat, the more tender and tasty and satisfying it is. You can make lean grassfed meat tender and delicious, with the proper technique and marinades. But the grassfed meat that has the little flecks of fat in the meat will be more tender, and more tasty, and more satisfying. The grassfed roast cooked with a cap of its own magnificent fat will always come out much better that the totally trimmed roast. Our ancestors knew this, and it is a delicious and healthy tradition to follow!

Related Posts

The Joy of Fat, Why We Lost It, and How to Get It Back

Who Was Weston A. Price?

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday and Monday Mania blog carnivals.

Let the Buffalo Roam

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

more grazing
Creative Commons License photo credit: brooklyn

Bison are huge, magnificent creatures designed to roam the vast plains of North America and to graze on the native grasses. The meat of these noble animals has a wonderful flavor of its own, with a sweet, clean taste found in no other meat. I have found that bison meat is one of the most energizing and rejuvenating foods I have ever eaten. Recently, I was horrified to learn that feedlots have been introduced for these magnificent animals who were never meant to be confined. But there is something we can do about this. We can decide not to eat any bison meat that is not 100% grassfed and grass finished.

Bison Thrive on Pasture

Once, more than 60 million bison roamed the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. These herds were so vast that it would take them days to pass a single spot. The bison ate the native plants and grasses, growing strong, healthy, and numerous. A number of Native American nations lived off the bison, getting almost all of their food from these healthy animals. The meat and fat of the bison provided high-quality food; the bones provided nourishing broth, and were often made into tools; the furry pelts were made into robes that kept the people warm during the winter, and provided blankets and clothing; the sinews were made into glue that was used to make bows and other tools; and the hides provided tough shields and footware, as well as clothing.

The Native Americans who lived off the bison were noted for their strength, endurance, physical beauty, intelligence, and robust good health. The bison thrived on the native grasses, and the people thrived off the bison. But this happy balance was doomed.

Industry Almost Exterminated the Bison

In the nineteenth century, the clothing industry discovered that bison hides were perfect for making warm clothing, coats, hats, and other apparel. They paid buffalo hunters to use specially designed buffalo rifles to slaughter the bison for their hides. This was made economically viable by the railroads, which could cheaply transport huge numbers of bison hides to the factories. The bison were slaughtered by the millions. The professional buffalo hunters would take only the hides and leave the rest of the bison to rot. This mass slaughter of the bison was encouraged by American industry and government, as a way to remove the main food source of the Native Americans living on the Great Plains, and as a way to clear the land of bison so it could be used for farming. By the end of the nineteenth century, there were less than 600 bison left alive in the United States. Over 60 million had been slaughtered for their hides.

The Bison Return

Fortunately, efforts were made to finally protect the bison. The numbers increased, and bison were once again used for food. Some creative ranchers learned how to raise bison and increase their numbers—and soon there was a substantial increase in the number of bison. These early ranchers raised and finished the bison on grass. They found that bison eating their native grasses were sturdy, healthy, hardy animals, who provided wonderful meat. However, raising bison naturally required a great deal of knowledge and effort on the part of the ranchers, and it took a while to raise a bison for meat. Some bison ranchers began to feed grains to their bison. These grain fed bison grew and matured faster. However, bison were never intended to eat grain, and the very composition of their meat and fat changed.

How to Make Bison Taste Like Beef

A bison industry was formed. The industry decided that they would sell more bison if they could make bison taste like beef. This led to the bizarre “beefalo” experiment where bison were interbred with cattle to provide hybrid animals who were turned into meat. Consumers had no interest in this product, and it was dropped. The industry then developed ways of feeding unnatural diets to bison that were designed to make them grow faster, and have their meat taste like beef. The industry succeeded completely. Grain finished bison tastes just like grain finished beef. The sweet, clean taste of grassfed bison was lost.

Comes the Feedlot

Feeding grain to bison was bad enough. Not only did it destroy the wonderful, natural taste of the bison, making the bison taste just like grain finished beef, but it changed the nutritional qualities of the meat. The situation became much worse when feedlots were introduced for bison. A protocol of 100 days of eating nothing but grains in a feedlot was introduced. For example, a recent study showed that grassfed bison had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4 to 1. Putting the bison on a grain diet in a feedlot resulted in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 21 to 1. This huge imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio does not occur in nature, and is not what our bodies were designed to eat.

Recently, the USDA Food Inspection Service announced that approximately 66,000 pounds of bison were recalled because of possible E. coli contamination.

Bison were meant to roam the prairie, eating the native grasses, not to be confined in a feedlot, eating food that is unnatural to them.

The Grassfed Solution

Fortunately, there are some bison ranchers who keep their animals on the pasture, and do not feed them grains, or send them to feedlots. These animals are healthy, and are free to roam the prairies as they were designed to do. Their meat is sweet, and nourishing, with the wonderful clean taste that is equaled by no other meat. This is the only kind of bison meat that I will eat. I encourage everybody to vote with their pocketbooks and buy only grassfed and grass finished bison. Let the buffalo roam.

My Sources Page has links to two wonderful bison ranches that sell only grassfed and grass finished bison.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.