What should you, the consumer, expect with Certified Criollo Grass Fed Beef?
The most dramatic differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef are the aromas while cooking, and the flavor of the meat itself. Grass-fed beef, while being cooked, has an intense, delicious aroma that will attract family members to the kitchen or grill like a magnet. Rubs, marinades, bastes and steak sauces will be unnecessary--grass-fed beef has a robust, delicious flavor that stands on its own.
All Criollo cattle harvested as Certified Criollo Beef are grass-fed and all-natural. Their diet has been exclusively their mother's milk, then grass, hay and alfalfa. No grain, ever. No antibiotics, ever. No hormones, ever. No dirty, crowded, stressful feedlots or confinement operations, ever. Their entire life has been spent free-range, in spacious pastures. No pesticides, ever. The only supplements approved for use by the ACBA with grass-fed Certified Criollo Beef are trace mineral salt blocks. Because of these stringent feeding and husbandry standards, consumers can be confident that Certified Criollo Beef will provide a safe, humane source of delicious beef, with high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients for their families.
Grass-fed beef, before cooking, usually looks slightly different than feedlot beef. The first thing you will notice with grass-fed beef is that the marbling (flecks of intramuscular fat) is not a consistent snow-white, as in grain-fed beef. The marbling in grass-fed beef commonly will take on some of the color of the green grasses, forbs and legumes that the animal has been eating. Many of the antioxidants that grass-fed beef is famous for comes from this coloring. The full-bodied, delicious flavor of grass-fed beef also comes from this coloring. The snow-white marbling of grain-fed beef guarantees juiciness, but also condemns the consumer to a bland-tasting cut of beef. (Ever wonder why rubs, marinades, bastes and steak sauces are so popular, even in high-end restaurants?)
The American Criollo Beef Association, on inception, made the decision that each and every candidate animal for inclusion into the Certified Criollo Beef Registry (as seedstock), or into the Grass-Fed Certified Criollo Beef Program (for future harvest), must have minimum scores on DNA testing for Tenderness and Meat Quality (Marbling). Each animal must score a minimum of 4 out of 10 for Tenderness, 4 out of 10 for Meat Quality (Marbling), with a combined score of 9 or greater, for inclusion. (For more information about DNA testing, please click here) (For examples of DNA test results from Certified Criollo Beef animals, click here).
All of this means consumers can be confident that the Criollo cattle harvested as Certified Criollo Beef will produce the naturally tender, lean, tasty beef we want to feed to our families.