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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I post this question as a consumer, reaching out to those of you who'd likely know the ins & outs of these things quite well. This relates to an expensive order I made from a local farm, that’s highly reviewed online by the few who know about it, and they check all the boxes for my standards in terms of their beef being a) 100% grass-fed & finished and b) certified organic. The owners seem like fantastic people from my interactions with them, and I can tell they’re quite knowledgable about the industry, and share many of the same views on nutrition and the benefits of grass-fed beef as I do.

Today I defrosted some striploin steaks I bought as part of my large order. Prior to putting them on the BBQ, I could tell they had quite a noticeable scent to them. I don’t know if “gamey” accurately describes what it was, or “barnyard-y” — but something just seemed off about the smell overall. I cooked them anyway, but that ‘off’ smell came out in the taste. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I was frustrated and confused.

I’ve ordered & eaten organic, 100% grass-fed/finished steaks before while in another city (aka from other farms), yet there was no taste or smell issue for me.

These striploin steaks + the rest of my order were also very, very fresh and delivered to the farm by the butcher just a day before I went. I remember when I bought meat from this farm last year as well, that the butcher or slaughter date noted on the sticker was just 2 weeks prior. So really fresh stuff. If anything, I thought that the closer you are to the slaughter date of the animal, the more mild/lack of taste the beef will have? So what’s with this noticeable smell & taste I’m picking up this time around? Also, last year I made tartare from this same farm’s cut of tenderloin, and I know for sure I wouldn’t have eaten it if the smell was what I’m noticing now.

It’s also not exclusive to the striploin steaks I tried today, because I began defrosting some of the rib steaks from the same batch, and it seems like they have the same smell & could turn out tasting the same. :(

What would you speculate the potential issue is? Could it be the breed of cow? The 'freshness' of the steak? Whether it was dry-aged or not? (I'm going to ask them, but if I had to guess I don't think it is).
 

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Not sure this is it or will help. Right now meat lockers in my area are scheduling a full year out!!! This means that the ideal aging of 14-21 days is lucky to get 10.
Animal stress can play a huge part also, an animal that has been in a 8 hour panic attack cant taste the same as one that never knew whats up
 

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If the seller is a legitimate operation, reputation is a big deal. You should give them a call, or better yet, return some of the meat for them to see/smell/taste first hand.
I believe our local processor is booked thru May of 2021.
 

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So I post this question as a consumer, reaching out to those of you who'd likely know the ins & outs of these things quite well. This relates to an expensive order I made from a local farm, that’s highly reviewed online by the few who know about it, and they check all the boxes for my standards in terms of their beef being a) 100% grass-fed & finished and b) certified organic. The owners seem like fantastic people from my interactions with them, and I can tell they’re quite knowledgable about the industry, and share many of the same views on nutrition and the benefits of grass-fed beef as I do.

Today I defrosted some striploin steaks I bought as part of my large order. Prior to putting them on the BBQ, I could tell they had quite a noticeable scent to them. I don’t know if “gamey” accurately describes what it was, or “barnyard-y” — but something just seemed off about the smell overall. I cooked them anyway, but that ‘off’ smell came out in the taste. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I was frustrated and confused.

I’ve ordered & eaten organic, 100% grass-fed/finished steaks before while in another city (aka from other farms), yet there was no taste or smell issue for me.

These striploin steaks + the rest of my order were also very, very fresh and delivered to the farm by the butcher just a day before I went. I remember when I bought meat from this farm last year as well, that the butcher or slaughter date noted on the sticker was just 2 weeks prior. So really fresh stuff. If anything, I thought that the closer you are to the slaughter date of the animal, the more mild/lack of taste the beef will have? So what’s with this noticeable smell & taste I’m picking up this time around? Also, last year I made tartare from this same farm’s cut of tenderloin, and I know for sure I wouldn’t have eaten it if the smell was what I’m noticing now.

It’s also not exclusive to the striploin steaks I tried today, because I began defrosting some of the rib steaks from the same batch, and it seems like they have the same smell & could turn out tasting the same. :(

What would you speculate the potential issue is? Could it be the breed of cow? The 'freshness' of the steak? Whether it was dry-aged or not? (I'm going to ask them, but if I had to guess I don't think it is).
May be a processor problem. Also could be what the animal had to eat. Sometimes wild plants will grow in a field and the Animal will eat it and some plants will taint the meat with an off odor. If they eat Onions it can taint the meat. You could also have the meat tested to see what the problem is.
 

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I'd be asking them to replace your order with something that tastes good.
The whole "grass fed, organic" label is largely a big rip off scheme to start with.

You bought overpriced crummy meat.
I suspect this. And im a layperson when it comes to this stuff. But so many thing the benefit is so incrementally small or not even measureable its not worth the price. Being honest, i dont really notice a difference in taste between my own vegetables and store bought. It makes me feel good to grow it though. And it hasnt been in the paws of dozens of humans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'd be asking them to replace your order with something that tastes good.
The whole "grass fed, organic" label is largely a big rip off scheme to start with.

You bought overpriced crummy meat.
Not according to my & plenty of others' research, but that's not what this is about.

For what it's worth, what I paid is on-par with, or lesser priced, than many prominent local farms who sell grain-fed. So I didn't overpay in that regard.
 

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The stress thing is way overblown. Having had game animals that were harvested with a single shot, caught unawares compared to animals that were harvested after being chased by a pack of hounds most of the day. Also farm animals harvested in the most humane circumstances possible, those harvested when things didn't go as planned, and those that were downright mercy killings after unfortunate circumstances in which an attempt to harvest meat was carried out in spite of those circumstances. Never been able to tell a difference. In fact, some of the extremely stressed animals have been some of the best tasting. Sped up the aging process was my theory.

That brings us to a huge factor in meat quality, and that is aging. The more the aging, the more tender and better flavor. Another huge factor is diet. Probably the biggest factor is growth plane. You catch an animal that is in the process of losing weight, it's going to be tough and taste bad. If it is actively gaining, it is going to taste better. A lot of grass fed beef operations find themselves in situations where the animals are stressed because they are running out of pasture, and they are losing fat. Cattle don't typically reach harvest weight in a single growing season. Pasture quality when a particular animal is harvested is going to play a huge part in customer satisfaction and customer retention. Lush spring grass that is mostly water and late winter hay is not going to promote the active gaining, nutritionally unstressed condition that promotes consistent quality. Neither is late summer drought. The cattle industry has been aware of these challenges for quite some time, and this is why commercially produced beef is grass fed and grain finished.
 

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Call the seller and see if they will take the meat back.

No, fresher is not better. Beef needs to hang and age or it will taste and smell "green". Aging is an art form and some butchers do it well and some butchers save money by cutting corners.

Sometimes you can get a "high bright" flavor in females if they are butchered at exactly the wrong time in their hormone cycle. I suspect this is a bit rare to happen because I don't ever hear allot of complaining about it.

Sometimes you get off flavors because the steer was eat the wrong feed. What they eat affects the flavor.

I'm going to guess it was either what the animal was eating or it is an aging and butchering problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Call the seller and see if they will take the meat back.

No, fresher is not better. Beef needs to hang and age or it will taste and smell "green". Aging is an art form and some butchers do it well and some butchers save money by cutting corners.

Sometimes you can get a "high bright" flavor in females if they are butchered at exactly the wrong time in their hormone cycle. I suspect this is a bit rare to happen because I don't ever hear allot of complaining about it.

Sometimes you get off flavors because the steer was eat the wrong feed. What they eat affects the flavor.

I'm going to guess it was either what the animal was eating or it is an aging and butchering problem.
If this is potentially the factor, I just realized I have a chuck roast from the same farm, but purchased a year ago (is that too long for being frozen?) -- If I defrost that and the taste/smell seems "normal" aka what I'm used to for 100% grass-fed & finished, then perhaps that would be a fair test to carry out? Or would it being frozen for so long have an impact? (it's not vacuum sealed though, it's in butcher paper)
 

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In this segment of the world, if you take livestock straight off pasture to processing from mid-fall to late-spring, you get preseasoned meat...onion/garlic flavored...and strong. You can still have grass fed/finished successfully, but if you have them out in pasture with wild onions/garlic (which they will seek out), you need to feed them out for 3 or 4 days on hay before processing and limit or eliminate their access to pasture.

I get the pasture raised that is what we do. But, finishing them out on grain gives a much more reliable end product from my experience.
 
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I am just sending you some sympathy. I would be worried that it would be an awkward conversation with the ranchers, although necessary for your sake and theirs. I buy pasture-raised but not officially organic beef from a local ranch every year - so far it’s been wonderful. They have a lot of money, time, energy invested in each animal, as well as having to trust the butcher to not screw it up. Good luck and I would also appreciate knowing the outcome.
 

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.......... I have a chuck roast from the same farm, but purchased a year ago (is that too long for being frozen?) --(it's not vacuum sealed though, it's in butcher paper)
Meat correctly wrapped in butcher paper and stored in a low temperature deep freeze without a defrost cycle will be good for years. I've eaten elk that was 6 years in the freezer and in perfect condition. In a refrigerator freezer with a defrost cycle, that meat will not be as good as it was.

The fridge freezer doesn't get cold enough and the defrost cycle isn't good for your meat storage.
 

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Every type of grass that the animal eats lends its own flavor to the beef. Every spring there is a lot of wild onions and garlic to be found in the fields. Alfalfa is also known to lend an off-flavor to beef. Beef from cattle harvested while eating these plants will have a distinct flavor. Same as if a milk cow was eating them and gives strong off-flavored milk. It is my guess that your beef came straight off of the fields to slaughter when the strong-flavored grasses were lush.
 
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