The movement towards grassfed beef is a giant step in the positive direction. Ranchers are seeking to grow their cattle on the grasses and herbs growing naturally on their ranch, rather than fattening up the cows with corns and grains, which the animals were never meant to eat. However, in many ways, this whole movement is completely missing the point.
Grassfed beef is a seasonal product, just like peaches, tomatoes, or any other produce. Think about it: when you’re driving up the coast, there is a very clear difference between the grasses in the middle of winter vs. heat of summer. Although the landscape is a beautiful green in January and February, these grasses are out of season. The immature green grasses of winter are basically salad, lacking much in the way of rich carbohydrates. It is the ugly browner grass of the summer months that is the good stuff. This more mature grass, growing between May and October, has the most stored energy, full of fattening carbs which leads to flavor.
With year-round demand, however, many ranchers are simply ignoring the fundamental fact of nature that is seasonality. Because of this, a lot of people who are exposed to out-of-season grassfed beef find it mediocre at best, and end up going right back to eating the corn-fed stuff. Which really is a shame. There’s no way this whole grass-fed thing is going to catch on if we keep demanding it at the wrong time of year.
We think dealing with this seasonality is kind of fun. Just like timing when to open a special bottle of wine or when to overload the menu with perfectly ripe tomatoes, there is a peak time for serving beef. For us in California, the absolute best time for grass-fed beef would be July. Just in time for our opening!