The American beef industry is a formidable cattle raising machine. Across much of the country, young cattle are raised alongside their mothers on pasture lands until the moment when they can safely be separated. At that point, they are shuttled off to feed lots where they gorge on corn for months, putting on fat and wagyu steak muscle more quickly than peers almost anywhere else in the world.
This industrial approach to raising beef stocks has made that meat a favorite all across the United States. American beef is less expensive, relative to the alternatives, than beef anywhere else in the world. The focus on corn feeding also means that the flavor of the beef produced in this way is especially pure and clean, with the real essence of beef shining through.
For all of its strengths, though, the American take on cattle ranching is not the only one worth considering. Across much of the world, for instance, from South America to Australia, ranchers prefer to graze their cattle on natural grass right up until the point of slaughter. While all that moving around tends to result in tougher meat, thanks to muscles that get much more of a workout, the particular blend of grasses in a given pasture also contribute to unique flavors that many diners prefer.
On the far other end of the spectrum, Japanese ranchers coddle their cattle even more so than American beef producers do. Wagyu beef raised in Japan comes from several breeds specially selected for their propensity for putting on fat, particular of an intramuscular kind. In order to heighten the intensity of this effect even further, Japanese ranchers insist that their cattle remain virtually sedentary from birth, even going to the extreme of giving them regular massages.
Instead of the corn that is typically of grain-fed American ranching operations, Japanese cattle typically subsist on a diet heavy in barley. The effect is much the same, with the energy-dense grain contributing to levels of internal marbling that would be impossible otherwise. Wagyu steaks can be so rich with fat, in fact, that they can seem almost wholly white at first glance, with only the odd fleck of red muscle hiding within.
Each of this approaches has its merits and its supporters. Companies like Lone Mountain Wagyu, for instance, earn strong followings in the United States today by departing from American cattle-ranching norms in raising Wagyu beef. What most beef lovers agree on, above all else, is that having choices of these kinds is truly delicious.