You’ve seen the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading labels on the beef in the grocery store, but do you know what they mean? We’ll break down how the organization rates beef in our blog today. Keep reading to find out more, and as always, visit our website for even more information on grass-fed beef. 

The USDA has eight different quality grades for beef. Those include Canner, Cutter, Utility, Commercial, Standard, Select, Choice and Prime from bottom to top. We’ll focus on the top three, Select, Choice and Prime, as those are the grades most commonly seen in grocery stores.

How are these grades assigned to beef? According to the USDA, “Quality grades are based on the amount of marbling (flecks of fat within the lean), color, and maturity.” For example, Prime grade beef has abundant marbling and is typically sold in hotels and restaurants. Beef with the Choice grade, which is most commonly found in grocery stores, has less marbling than Prime grade, but will still be extremely flavorful and juicy. Select beef is leaner than Choice and is great for braising and marinating. 

Though these grades can be a good baseline for grain-fed cattle, they don’t tell the whole story. Since the USDA bases their grading largely on the amount of marbling in the beef, it’s not a good way to judge grass-fed beef. Though grass-fed beef does have marbling, this feature largely comes from grain. Conventional beef will typically have more marbling than grass-fed beef. That doesn’t mean grass-fed beef isn’t tasty though; and if you’re not convinced, check out our blog for some irresistible recipes.

Remember, it’s important to do your research in selecting the beef that’s right for you. We know you’ll love the health benefits and delicious taste that comes from our grass-fed beef, a product you can trust.