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How Beef is Graded

There is a lot of choice these days when it comes to beef, for some of us it can be overwhelming. How do we know what is of good quality or suitable for what we want to cook? Some of us like a little fat and others prefer a completely lean cut of beef. This is where the beef grading system comes in. It was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to act as a guide for people. 

According to Beef is What’s for Dinner, the beef grading program uses highly trained specialists and sometimes grading instruments to determine the official quality grade. It is a voluntary grading system that is administered  by the USDA and paid for by beef packers. To receive a USDA beef grading, manufacturers must pay for a trained inspector to grade the beef. 

One thing which is very important to note is that grass-fed beef is not graded Prime or Choice by the USDA because it contains a lower fat content. Grass-fed beef is leaner and healthier than grain fed beef. While it may not fall under these categories it does promote health, which is undoubtedly more important.

As reported by The Spruce Eats, there are eight grades of beef designated by the USDA, however, only the top 5 are sold to customers. The lower grades are used for processing or in canned goods. Each grade of beef has its own unique uses and recommended cooking methods. Let’s look at the top three beef grades.

PRIME – prime beef is produced from young well-fed cattle and has the most fat marbling of the high grade beef. It is produced in smaller amounts and is usually sold in hotels and restaurants. Prime beef is perfect for dry heat cooking because of its high level of fat marbling. These include roasting, grilling, frying and baking. Please consider that the high fat content of Prime beef means that it should not be consumed regularly. There are much healthier grades of beef to choose from.

CHOICE – choice beef is high quality and widely available to consumers in supermarkets and restaurants. US choice accounts for roughly 50 percent of all graded beef. Although it has less marbling than prime beef it is still a very juicy, tender and flavourful grade of beef, especially for roast and steaks. It is suitable for dry heat cooking but also stewing or braising. Even though choice graded beef is lower in fat than prime, it is still not as lean as grass-fed beef and according to The Globe and Mail, grass-fed beef is lower in fat and calories and higher in omega-3s and antioxidants than regular beef.

SELECT – select beef is leaner than prime and choice beef because it has less marbling. In comparison to the higher grades, select beef can lack some tenderness and flavour. However, it is a popular low fat option. It is most suitable for moist heat cooking, such as stewing, steaming and braising. Slow cookers are also an excellent way to cook select beef as it helps break down tough fibers that are usually present in this meat.

If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to send them onto us. You can contact us by phone on (530) 949-4241 or send us an email at txbargrassfed@gmail.com

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TX Bar Grassfed Cattle Company

10910 Shasta Blvd, Los Molinos, CA, United States

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I'm glad I went with TX Bar Grassfed Cattle Company. I didn't get the amount of take home beef as I thought I would(my mistake), but the second I saw... read more

Raphael Terry Avatar Raphael Terry
April 4, 2023

Worked with Travis of TX Bar and Los Molinos Meats. It was our first time going through a "cow purchase" process and Travis was extremely helpful and the whole process... read more

Jesse Martin Avatar Jesse Martin
March 25, 2023

First time buying half a beef. Travis was very informative and was always available to answer questions. Great overall experience. We will be placing a second order... read more

Maria Alaniz Avatar Maria Alaniz
March 25, 2023

Great customer service and excellent meat!

Kyle Glagovich Avatar Kyle Glagovich
February 25, 2023

Transaction very smooth, great communication from deposit, to harvest , to butcher. The beef tastes heavenly. Nothing better than fresh. We'll be back. Thank you... read more

Debbie Waterman Avatar Debbie Waterman
January 25, 2023

Great price!!! Grass fed and grass finished. Easy communication with Travis and the Butcher. This was my first experience and absolutely no issues and great farmer doing what he does... read more

Artem Kolmyk Avatar Artem Kolmyk
January 25, 2023

Big shout out to TX Bar cattle company for feed the freezer with the highest quality grass fed beef. Working with Travis was really a please. Hands down... read more

Adam Lesly Avatar Adam Lesly
January 25, 2023

From the start I knew I chose the best in the business. Quick response and everything was lined out on from day one. Most fear grass fed and finished beef... read more

Seth Laam Avatar Seth Laam
October 25, 2022

This was my first experience buying beef off the hoof. I was so afraid I would mess it up. Fortunately I found TXBAR, their advertisement is fantastic, it explains... read more

Barbara Stewart Avatar Barbara Stewart
August 25, 2022

Thanks again for your hard work for another amazing animal!! Butcher said hanging weight was 775lbs!!! Massive lol. Woooo!! Food for a year+. And... read more

August 25, 2022

First time purchasing a half beef and it was a great experience.Travis was more than helpful and was easy to get ahold of if any questions were to come up.... read more

Ian Seifert Avatar Ian Seifert
May 25, 2022

Thank you very much! I picked it all up on Friday and the meat looks great. My wife's birthday was on Sunday and I whipped out the sous vide and... read more

George Mount Avatar George Mount
April 25, 2022

Hi Travis, As a new customer to the bulk meat buying process I was more than a little apprehensive spending this kind of money. But after working with you... read more

Stephen Boehringer Avatar Stephen Boehringer
April 25, 2022


Bg Gerel Avatar Bg Gerel
April 25, 2022

Picked up our first order of beef from TX Bar and very pleased with our purchase. Our first taste was the hamburger, cooked in cast iron along with onions/bell peppers/mushrooms... read more

Mark Stafford Avatar Mark Stafford
April 25, 2022

Absolute dream working with Travis. The whole process was so easy and seamless. From the deposit to the pickup we knew what was going on every step of the way.... read more

Reefer Tek Avatar Reefer Tek
April 25, 2022
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