The Prime Choice for Beef is Plain Simple

Plain Simple Beef started with one goal in mind: connecting people with only the highest quality of ethically raised beef, direct from independent Family Farms.

In a market driven by nothing but the bottom line, overcome with soulless corporations, unethical industrial processes, hormones, antibiotics, steroids and supermarket “mystery meat,” we’re determined to provide a better way.

Taking a page from a simpler time, Plain Simple Beef serves as a “digital co-op” connecting families with farmers.  We offer customers beef from the farm, breed and raising method of their choice, custom processed to their specifications and shipped free, right to your front door. Whether you are looking for the perfect steaks or roasts for a special occasion, or to stock up with a Quarter, Side, or Full Beef, we have you covered!

From our families to yours, our partner farms share a relentless focus on quality, ethics and transparency, so you know that you and your family are getting the best beef around, Plain Simple.

How it Works

CHOOSE YOUR FARM

CHOOSE YOUR BEEF

SCHEDULE PICKUP OR DELIVERY

Select which of our family owned farms you wish to order your beef from

Select from juicy steaks, tender roasts or even stock up with custom processed Quarters, Halves or the Full Beef!

Farm fresh beef, custom packed and shipped free, right to your front door!

BEEF 101

What are the Grades of Beef?

The USDA, which is the most widely used and recognized grading authority in the U.S. outlines and defines the possible grades as such:

Prime grade is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).

Choice grade is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime are, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat. However, such cuts will be most tender if “braised” — roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

Select grade is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

Standard and Commercial grades are frequently sold as ungraded or as “store brand” meat.

UtilityCutter, and Canner grades are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

How is Beef Graded?

When a USDA meat grader assesses the quality of a beef carcass, he or she makes an incision between the 12th and 13th rib, takes a good look at how much marbling there is, and assigns the meat a grade, from the highest, Prime (highest grade beef), to Choice or Select (mid-grade beef), all the way down to Canner (lowest grade beef). That’s why a well-marbled steak, one that is abundantly flecked with little specks and streaks of white fat, costs a lot more than a steak that’s all red muscle.  While marbling plays one of the most significant rolls in determining a steak’s overall quality, it is not the whole picture.

Japanese Beef Grading System

The JMGA (Japanese Meat Grading Association) Beef Carcass Grading Standard was developed to measure carcasses yielding higher marbling scores than effectively captured by other methods. In 2008 Japan raised the bar with their grading standard, whereby the BMS (Beef Marbling Score) grade range is now 3-12 (eliminating 1 and 2) and now a BMS of 3 requires the beef to exhibit a minimum of 21% intramuscular fat.

Under this Japanese system, carcasses are first cut or “ribbed” between the sixth and seventh rib for quality inspection.

First the carcass is assigned a letter designation based on “yield grade”.  There are three yield grades: A, B and C, which are initially estimated via an equation that determines yield percentages.

Next the beef is assigned a quality grade between one and five based on marbling, meat color, texture, fat coloration and fat quality.  

Yield score is determined by an estimated cutability percentage that is calculated from four carcass measurements, obtained at the sixth and seventh rib sections. This yield grading system has proven accurate and objective, resulting in the following grades as determined by percentage.

Yield Grades:

Grade A: 72% and above

Grade B: 69% and above

Grade C: Under 69%

After being assigned a letter grade, the meat quality scores are determined based on marbling, meat coloration and firmness, as well as the texture, luster and overall quality of the fat. Below is a breakdown of the relationship between the beef marbling evaluation results and the resulting assignment of a numerical grade.

Quality Grades:

Poor: 1

Below Average: 2

Average: 3-4

Good: 5-7

Excellent: 8-12

Meat color is evaluated by a “Beef Color Standard” which consists of seven sequential numerical values or “standards” which are based on the coloration and brightness of the beef.  Average color ranges number from 1-6 and carcasses in this color range are graded as average to excellent on the quality grade scale.

Firmness and texture of meat are evaluated by visual appraisal and then classified into one of five grades.  Firmness is measured in a range from very good to inferior, and texture is evaluated and placed on a scale ranging  from very fine to coarse.   

The color, luster and quality of fat is evaluated objectively against the Beef Fat Standards prepared as seven continuous standards. The remaining two factors, luster and quality, are evaluated simultaneously by visual appraisal.

Future Developments:

In recent years there has been a focus within the industry to develop an automated and objective carcass measurement utilizing the latest digital camera technology and image analysis software to calculate important traits such as:

  • Rib Eye Area
  • Rib Eye Shape
  • Intermuscular Fat Percentage
  • Meat Color Quality
  • Fat Color Quality
  • Meat Fineness/ Coarseness Index
  • Marbling Pattern and Quality

This technology is currently in use in several countries, serving as a research tool to collate accurate carcass data for possible use in parameter estimation for genetic analysis(BLUP).  The hope is to create value for producers and consumers by implementing a fast, economical, accurate and objective system of measuring beef quality and characteristics via a standardized, internationally recognized methodology.

Importance of Diet for Beef Quality

At Plain Simple Beef, we start with a simple premise; “Quality in Equals Quality Out”.  Whether 100% Grass Fed Beef, or Heritage Raised, our Family Farms specialize in raising only the finest quality beef the right way, with top-quality forage grown on site, crisp, clean water and never any growth hormones or antibiotics.

Conventional beef is raised in overcrowded feed lots on a questionable diet of heavily processed grains, energy dense food waste (including rejected candy and syrups), laced with heavy doses of antibiotics and growth hormones.  The goal of these operations is to have the cattle put on the most weight possible in the least amount of time, as cheaply as possible.

As a result of these methods, quality and nutrition suffer significantly, leading to heavy bands of bland, gristly fat deposited unevenly throughout the animal, stress-induced toughness of the muscle fibers and an inferior nutritional profile created by their poor diet.

In contrast, the personal pride, care and generations of experience that go into every one of our animals shines through in the wholesome quality, rich flavor and superb tenderness in every bite.

Grain Fed Beef

grain fed cattle

Conventional, grain fed beef is raised in overcrowded feed lots on a questionable diet of heavily processed grains and energy dense food waste (including rejected candy and syrups), which is laced with heavy doses of antibiotics and growth hormones.  The goal of these operations is to have the cattle put on the most weight possible in the least amount of time, as cheaply as possible.

This is not the natural diet of the cattle. An unnatural diet introduces additional stress and health issues into the animals, reducing the quality and wholesomeness of the beef.

In addition to concerns over ethics and beef quality, the environmental impact of commercial feedlot operations is staggering, with severe damage to local watersheds, leaching of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals into the environment.

Grass Fed Beef

100% Grass Fed Beef is exactly as it sounds; cattle are allowed to graze and forage in a pasture environment, simply doing what cows do best, turning grass into mass.

Grass Fed Beef carries numerous health and nutritional advantages over conventional, feedlot raised beef. These benefits are well documented in numerous studies, such as this one, performed by the Mayo Clinic.

The most significant of these beneficial differences is the ratio and type of fat present in the meat. Compared to chicken breast or venison, grass fed beef is significantly lower in saturated and trans fats, popularly known as “bad fats”. In addition to being lower in saturated fats, a 100% grass fed diet promotes the development of essential fatty acids, providing up to six times the levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 aka the “Good Fats” when compared with conventional beef.

100% Grass Fed Beef has more Omega-3s than grain fed, or even grass fed beef finished in a feedlot because Omega-3 forms in the chloroplasts of green leafy plants. Up to sixty percent of the fat content of natural pasture forage is a type of Omega-3 fatty acid called Alpha-Linolenic or LNA which is renowned for its numerous health benefits.

In addition to its heart healthy qualities, the wholesome and varied diet of 100% Grass Fed Beef provides a superior nutritional profile across the board. A grass rich diet leads to significantly higher levels of antioxidants and key nutrients such as Iron, Vitamins A and E, and other essential micronutrients not found in traditional beef.

Wholesome, heart-healthy nutrition is not the only benefit of 100% Grass Fed Beef.   Pasture raised cattle produce a significantly lower environmental impact.  When combined with proper land stewardship, this highly sustainable farming method preserves natural watersheds, protects against soil degradation, increases drought resistance and provides valuable habitat for native species of plants and animals.

Grain Fed V.S. Grass Fed Beef

The primary differences between 100% Grass Fed Beef and grain fed feedlot raised beef come down to distribution of fat, quality and nutritional profile.

Grass Fed Beef typically possesses more intermuscular fat, meaning the marbling is distributed throughout the muscle, whereas Grain Fed Beef typically has fat deposited in a thick band outside of the muscle.  The intermuscular fat found in Grass Fed Beef  produces superior tenderness and flavor, as it is evenly distributed throughout the meat and renders into the surrounding muscle fibers during the cooking process. In contrast, the thick bands of hard fat developed by Grain Fed Beef are less flavorful and can create a “gristly” mouthfeel and less even distribution of juiciness.

Plain Simple Beef only works with small family farms that put quality first.  In comparison, commercial Grain Fed Beef suppliers produce a product with a poor diet, in a high-stress environment, using added hormones and antibiotics all with a singular focus on the bottom line.  These factors contribute to a finished beef that is tougher, less flavorful and far less healthy than properly raised, 100% Grass Fed Beef.

What Makes Our Beef So Special?

healthy cow unique grass fed process
best beef in the USA

In recent years Grass Fed Beef has seen a surge in popularity. With popularity, comes increased demand, and many farmers inexperienced in raising grass fed cattle are switching to this method in pursuit of premium prices. Unfortunately, because of increased demand, the marketplace has seen more than its fair share of “bad” grass fed beef.

Despite the numerous health, ethical and environmental benefits of beef raised on a 100% grass fed diet, nobody wants to pay a premium price for a product that is tough and stringy with the flavor of a well-used shoe.

Plain Simple Beef believes you should not have to pay a premium price for an inferior product. Our farmers specialize in Grass Fed Beef and have spent years testing and developing careful pasture management practices. These practices include plantings of numerous wild grains, native grasses, legumes, browsing forage and radishes, as well as turnips to provide an extra treat. Absolutely everything the cattle eat is either directly foraged, or in case of winter silage and hay, grown and bailed on property to ensure only the highest quality of feed.

Combined with carefully developed soil management and grazing rotation, the cattle get a full range of nutrients and varied forage from a natural, healthy environment. As an added benefit, the careful stewardship of the land creates a viable ecosystem that protects the local watersheds, enhances soil quality, reduces erosion, provides habitat for native wildlife and incredible drought resistance.

This varied and complete diet develops unparalleled marbling, tenderness and flavor when compared with other grass fed beef, ensuring that your family receives only the highest quality product, Plain and Simple.

Clean Water

Just like with our high feed standards, we believe that “quality in equals quality out”. Our farms take great care to provide only the highest quality water to their animals. Not only does clean water increase overall health, it also reduces stress and increases the contentment of the herd. Our farms located in harsher climates use frost proof waterers, ensuring the cattle always have fresh, clean water. These same flow systems keep the water crisp and cool in the summer months and prevent undesirable organisms from entering the water supply. The water the cattle drink comes straight from wells or municipal supplies to ensure a consistent, high quality supply for the animals. The cattle at our family farms always have fresh, clean water either from rural waterlines or natural springs that are never allowed to become stagnant.

Red Angus

red angus beef

As many passionate beef enthusiasts and all around carnivores know, one of the most thoroughly enjoyable eating experiences one can have is diving into a beautiful cut of Red Angus beef.

The superior quality of Red Angus beef comes from its excellent marbling, tenderness, texture and flavor.  You’ll recognize “marbling” as those little white flecks of flavorful fat dispersed throughout the beef.

Through careful selection of genetics, meticulous management of pasture forage and a hands on touch that only comes with a true love and passion for cattle we are able to offer a product of unparalleled quality.

Through our partnerships with small Family Farms, Plain Simple Beef offers 100% Grass Fed Red Angus beef of the highest quality.

Wagyu

“Wagyu Beef” seems to have become a bit of a catchall term referring to a variety of Japanese cattle breeds and hybrids of Japanese and Western breeds.

The term Wagyu comes from the Japanese words for “Wa” meaning “Japanese” or Japanese Style” and “Gyu” which is the Japanese expression for “cattle” or “cow.”

What we typically think of as Japanese Wagyu beef actually comes from one of four breeds; Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll, and Japanese Shorthorn.

These breeds feature a different build than many Western varieties, with a more athletic, longer build, owing to their origins as a working animal of similar capacity to the Western Oxen.

true-waygu-steak

What is the Difference Between Wagyu and Kobe Beef?

To put it “Plain and Simple” all authentic Kobe Beef is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu Beef is Kobe. Think of it in the same way as Champagne; while there are countless varieties of sparkling, “champagne style” wines, only those from the Champagne region may carry that official designation.

Genuine Kobe Beef is world renowned for possessing incredible marbling composed of soft, intermuscular fat possessing a unique ratio of Omega-3, Omega-6 and other monounsaturated fats. This unique ratio of “good fats” results in a richer flavor, softer texture, superior mouth feel and significantly lower cholesterol and saturated fat content in comparison to standard beef.

Due to a lack of an officially recognized trademark or standardized definition from the USDA, many American consumers are confused regarding the differences between Wagyu and Kobe beef. This is primarily due to unregulated marketing efforts diluting the understanding of the breed and its qualities.

Most diners in the U.S. are unlikely to encounter genuine Kobe on the menu. Those $12 “Kobe Sliders” are almost certainly not genuine Kobe, and are more than likely sourced from American raised Wagyu cattle or hybrids of Wagyu and Western breeds.

Japanese law defines Kobe Beef as only coming from cattle that meet the following criteria:

  • A pure bloodline (Tajima-Gyu)
  • Raised exclusively in Hyōgo prefecture (the city of Kobe is the capital of this prefecture).
  • Fed only a strict dietary regimen consisting exclusively of dried grasses such as pasture forage and rice straw combined with a specific blend of corn, soybeans, barley, wheat bran and a variety of other ingredients.
  • Strict treatment and handling guidelines to reduce animal stress and improve quality and tenderness.
  • The beef must score at least a “4” or “5” for quality on the Japanese Meat Grading Association Scale.
  • The Tajima-Gyu marbling score must be “6” or higher.
  • The beef must carry a unique 10-digit number to identify the specific lineage and origin of the animal.

Only once these criteria are met, does the beef receive the official Japanese Chrysanthemum seal and become true “Kobe Beef.”

Ethically Raised Beef

ethically raised beef

ethically raised cows

Happy cows lead to happy customers! Ethically raised beef is one of the cornerstones of the Plain Simple brand. We believe that our high standards of animal welfare and ethical treatment are not just the right thing to do, but essential to producing the highest quality beef. So much so, that a member of our team visits every single farm to personally verify and document that they meet and continue to adhere to our exacting standards.

Every family farm that partners with Plain Simple Beef must adhere to our strict code of ethics regarding animal welfare. From calf to terminal processing, our cattle are treated in the most humane way possible, which means no confinement in overcrowded feedlots, no poor treatment and zero cruelty. Our cattle have plenty of space, fresh feed, clean water and pastures so that they have healthy areas to rest, relax and grow happily..

Our carefully selected farms provide shelters for their herds with plenty of warmth and fresh bedding to get out of the worst of the Midwestern winters and provide cool shade during baking summer days on the prairie.

The smaller herd sizes on our family farms also ensure that each and every animal receives hands on attention and treatment as needed, keeping the animals and the herd content and healthy. By knowing their herds so well, our farmers can maintain an unmatched level of both meat quality and ethics.

Difference between “Ethically Raised” and “Organic”

We don’t necessarily agree with what the “organic” label has come represent. While the original ideas and concept are sound, the term has become diluted through misinformation and marketing hype.

We chose a better way. Our partnered family farms exceed the standards for “organic” in nearly every possible area with one exception we refuse to bend on.

We believe that it is our ethical responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of the animals under our care. As part of this responsibility, we support the use of veterinary medicine to help a sick animal heal and we believe in following proper vaccination schedules to prevent the need for the majority of veterinary care in the first place.

Combining multi-generational stewardship of the land and small-scale, sustainable farming practices ensures that the beef you and your family receive is not only of the highest quality, but was ethically and humanely raised from calf to finished product.

Steroids, Hormones, and Use of Antibiotics

Plain Simple Beef believes in just that, which is why none of our beef is raised using steroids, hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics.

“What’s the significance of non-therapeutic antibiotics? Aren’t all antibiotics bad?” This is a common question we get. Most cattle raised in the US for beef production receive a continuous, heavy dose of non-therapeutic antibiotics throughout their rearing all the way up to final processing. This promotes weight gain and helps counteract the negative health consequences and potential for disease outbreaks caused by the cramped, dirty conditions of a commercial feed yard. Unfortunately, it also causes significant environmental damage and introduces questionable qualities to the beef.

Our farmers follow a much different way. Many people in our position might even label the beef produced by our farmers as “antibiotic free” and the vast majority of it truly is, with the exception of the occasional need for an animal to receive therapeutic antibiotics. This is why we differentiate and single out therapeutic antibiotics.

We care about our herds, and strongly believe in the ethical raising of our animals, those animals that become sick or injured receive the proper veterinary care to get back on their hooves and rejoin their herd, happy and healthy.

If you have a legitimate religious, moral or medical reason for needing an animal that is absolutely “antibiotic free” our customer service can work with you, as we keep detailed records of all our animals and can try and accommodate your request by verifying that the animal you select has never received therapeutic antibiotics at any point.

Heritage Raised Beef

Heritage raised marble example

Heritage raised beef is exactly as it sounds: cattle raised the right way, the old way and the “harder” way in order to achieve unparalleled quality. These cattle are raised on a carefully selected feed mixture designed to provide an optimal nutritional profile. The feed mixture given to our cattle consists of a carefully balanced ratio of alfalfa, corn, soy, silage, baled hay, browsing roughage and a few other treats, all of which is grown on property by the farmer and their family. This carefully curated feed mixture provides the required variety of nutrients and forage essential to raising healthy, happy cattle without any hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics.

Never confined to an overcrowded feedlot, our small family farms take a hands-on approach, raising no more than a few dozen cattle at a time with plenty of space and fresh air. This allows personal attention for every animal ensuring they are ethically raised in a clean, comfortable and low stress environment.

Developed over multiple generations and passed down, these techniques and methodology create beef of unparalleled quality, possessing an absolutely decadent level of marbling, tenderness, and flavor seldom found in American beef.

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