American beef is the world’s leading meat export, accounting for more than half of all global meat exports in 2017. Beef demand and consumption are growing globally, especially among younger generations. At the same time, consumers are becoming more aware of the impact their eating habits have on the environment and their personal health. In response to these trends and to help assure consumers that they are buying wholesome beef, the U.S. has developed a verification program called “Know Your Beef” which offers consumers five simple steps to identify quality U.S. beef products sold in grocery stores or other locations. With so much information about U.S. beef swirling around these days, we wanted to explore exactly what it is about this meat that makes it special compared to others on the market today — Is Ox Beef?
Is Ox Beef?
No, an ox is not beef. Ox: A bovine mammal that is typically castrated and used as a draft animal or for plowing fields. Beef: Meat from a bovine animal (cows, oxen, bulls, and heifers), slaughtered and prepared for human consumption.
Why Ox Is Not Beef?
- When it comes to texture, taste, and usage, ox and beef are like two different animals. Let’s look at the 4 reasons why ox is not beef. First, the ox is darker in color than the beef. While beef is a red or pinkish color, the ox is a dark red color due to the presence of myoglobin, a protein normally found in muscles.
- Second, the ox is much leaner than beef. Ox meat is significantly lower in fat than beef, making it a healthier choice. Third, the ox is often sold in a variety of cuts and forms. While beef is usually sold as a steak, the ox can be bought as a roast, steak, stew meat, or ground meat. Lastly, the ox is much cheaper than beef. While both types of meat are considered to be expensive, the ox is drastically cheaper than beef.
- Ox is a lot less common than beef. While beef is the most consumed meat in the world, oxen are not as highly consumed. Oxen are easier to raise and are not as delicate as beef cattle. One of the biggest differences between ox and beef is that oxen can graze on grasslands where there’s plenty of food, while beef cattle require a lot more feed and care.
- Lastly, oxen are a lot smaller than beef cattle. Cattle are very large animals that can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. Oxen are far smaller, generally weighing between 450 and 900 pounds when fully grown.
U.S. Beef vs. Imported Beef
- The Pure American Beef Checkoff is verified by the USDA and ensures that American beef is verified as Certified Angus Beef®, raises no antibiotics, is fed a vegetarian diet, and is 100% traceable back to the farm where it was raised.
- For imported beef, there are no such specific requirements. So, how do you know if the steak you’re buying is really imported? A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the cut of meat, the more likely it is to be imported. Additionally, imported beef often contains a greater percentage of bone and fat than American beef, resulting in a different flavor and texture.
- It’s important to note that some imported steaks are Wagyu, which are typically very high quality.
Why Buy U.S. Beef?
- U.S. beef is more expensive than imported beef, but there are several reasons why it’s worth the extra cost:
- Waste reduction: Less than 1% of U.S. beef is wasted, whereas up to 30% of imported beef is wasted.
- Less than 1% of U.S. beef is wasted, whereas up to 30% of imported beef is wasted. Quality: U.S.-raised cattle are fed a natural diet that includes grass, forages, and grains which provide a high-quality and nutritious product for consumers compared to grain-fed cattle raised in other countries with lower standards for their feed quality and animal welfare standards.
- U.S.-raised cattle are fed a natural diet that includes grass, forages, and grains which provide a high-quality and nutritious product for consumers compared to grain-fed cattle raised in other countries with lower standards for their feed quality and animal welfare standards. Environmentally friendly: The average American
Why Is U.S. Beef So Healthy?
Rich in Nutrients
Grass-finished beef is naturally high in numerous vitamins and minerals as well as essential antioxidants. Vitamin B6, B12, niacin, and riboflavin are present in higher amounts in grass-fed beef compared with grain-fed beef. Vitamin A levels are about twice as high in grass-fed beef compared with grain-finished beef. In addition, grass-fed beef is significantly higher in the essential minerals magnesium, calcium, and potassium compared with grain-finished beef. One of the best reasons why is U.S. beef so healthy is because it is a great source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in our bodies. It also helps regulate our metabolism and blood sugar levels, while also helping us to feel full.
Grass-finished beef is naturally leaner than grain-finished beef, with significantly lower levels of saturated fats, and higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. The fat content of grass-fed beef is higher in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is known to be protective against heart disease. Grass-fed beef is also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally-occurring fat that may be helpful in reducing our risk of certain cancers, decreasing our body fat, and preventing osteoporosis.
Produced with Care for the Environment
All of the reasons why is U.S. beef so healthy extend to the environment as well. The production of grain-fed beef, which is used for most of the beef produced in the U.S., requires significantly more land, water, and feed than grass-fed beef. This is because grass-fed beef is much more efficient in terms of feed conversion, meaning that the animals don’t eat as much but are still able to produce a healthier product. In fact, grass-fed beef requires just 1/3 of the land, and 1/4 of the water, and produces 1/20th of the greenhouse gas emissions compared with grain-fed beef!
Responsibly Raised Animals
Another important reason why is U.S. beef so healthy is that it is produced by animals that are fed a diet consisting of 100% forage and have been raised in open pastures with continuous access to clean water and have never been administered antibiotics or other drugs.
Contains Beneficial Fats
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, grass-fed beef contains beneficial fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vitamins A and E, which are necessary for our health and well-being. It is also rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids while being low in saturated and trans-fats.
How Does U.S. Beef Stack Up Against Other Meats?
- According to the USDA, all beef is created equal, but there are some key differences between American and imported beef. The most obvious difference is the price. While U.S. beef is more expensive than imported beef, it’s important to remember that many cuts of American beef are more flavorful and have a better taste than their counterparts in other countries.
- The USDA grades all beef based on the amount of marbling, or fat, found in the meat. Marbling is an indicator of how tender and flavorful the meat will be when cooked. American producers are required to use a minimum of 32% marbling in their cattle for sale as Certified Angus Beef® or Certified Angus Filet Mignon®, while imported beef must contain no less than 18% marbling. This means that American cattle are typically much more tender, tasty, and flavorful than their foreign counterparts. Additionally, U.S. producers do not raise their cows on feedlots and feed them a vegetarian diet (which means no hormones or antibiotics), while imported cattle are often raised on feedlots and fed non-vegetarian diets.
- U.S. beef is considered “lean” meat that’s low in calories and fat. That being said, the nutritional content of any particular cut of beef can vary significantly depending on the animal’s diet, preparation method, and other factors. For example, a 6-ounce serving of lean sirloin steak has about 280 calories and about 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. On the other hand, a 6-ounce serving of lean New York strip steak has about 360 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 20 grams of fat.
As you can see, there are many reasons to love U.S. beef. Whether you choose to buy it because it’s healthier, or because you want to support local farmers, you can rest assured you’re getting a product that’s high-quality and ethically raised. It’s important to remember, however, that even though U.S. beef is better than ever before, it can’t be called “organic” because it’s not 100% grass-fed. For those who care about the environment, want to improve their health, and want to support local farmers, there are plenty of organic beef options available.