Frankly, I’m not sure that grade matters much. This somewhat surprises me. I used to be a firm believer in premium or choice beef. However, long involvement with the local movement has given me the opportunity to sample a lot of local meats (often as the farmer was cooking it to serve for lunch as I cut his carcass up). I’ve done some rethinking about the importance of grading, particularly in beef.
I’m now more convinced that – where beef is concerned – quality has more to do with the breed, the type and quality of its feed, the soil it was pastured on, how humanely it was raised, how it was slaughtered, how it was aged and how it was cut and processed. I have had very lean meat that was surprisingly tender and I have had extremely marbled meat that was chewy.
Keep in mind that different breeds of animals have different attributes. Some are more efficient at converting feeds like grass to meat and fat than other breeds. Some breeds do better in harsher climates than others. There are just too many variables so it is important that you do your research.