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Alberta vs. Texas: Who has the better beef?

As the Edmonton Oilers battle the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Western Conference Finals, there’s some beef brewing off the ice as well.

Ahead of the start of the series, Premier Danielle Smith sparked a friendly challenge against Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Last week she posted on social media calling for Abbott to eat an Alberta rib steak on video and commenting how amazing it is — calling it the “world’s best.”

The governor happily accepted the challenge, but not without declaring the world’s best ribeye to be found in Texas.

The steaks are high for both political leaders. Alberta is known as the “Texas of Canada.”

There are nearly five million head of cattle and calves in Alberta, making up 40 per cent of Canada’s total herd, according to the data from the province.

Butcher beliefs

D’Arcy’s Meat Market owner Kyle Iseke says Alberta’s climate and ability to grow wheat and barley is the biggest reason why he thinks the province has the best beef in the world.

“Most of our beef is finished with those grains and that would give them a more buttery, fattier finish which makes it more tender and more flavourful,” Iseke told CTV News Edmonton at his butcher shop.

He says Texas’ warmer climate allows them to grow “cheaper feed” such as corn, leaving the beef with a yellow tint and slight gritty taste.

Shopping for your dinner steak at a local butcher shop compared to your nearby grocery store also makes a difference, according to Iseke.

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“I think coming to see a butcher really gives you a lot of opportunity to learn what you’re eating and how to get a better quality and meet your needs if your budget matters,” he said.

The delicious taste of your steak also gets its enhanced flavour from the butcher from aging.

Pasture to plate

A lot of thought goes into your steak before it ends up on your dinner plate.

Ed Lang is a third generation cattle rancher with W over Diamond ranches, an hour southeast of Edmonton. He also believes what the cows eat before being slaughtered make Alberta steak stand out.

“What makes us unique is the type of grass we have here in Alberta and we have an incredible variety of grasses,” Lang said.

Lang’s farm has a little less than 500 cows on his land, keeping a small percentage for breeding.

Alberta cattle. (Matt Marshall/CTV News Edmonton)

“We take tremendous pride, we live with it. We don’t walk away from our jobs at five o’clock, our jobs sometimes go 24 hours,” Lang said.

“We don’t just work the ranch, we live it.”

If the Oilers beat out the Stars, Lang says Abbott won’t be disappointed with the taste of Alberta’s rib eye steak.

“I believe he’s going to really enjoy it. I think as Albertans if we can have that opportunity to watch him eat it, we’re going to enjoy it even more than he will.”

Battle of the Beef

While the climate south of the border impacts the way Texas cattle are fed, rodeo announcer and cattle rancher Bob Tallman lives in Texas and says it’s hard to compare the two as they’re raised differently.

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“We have vast amounts of acreage where cattle graze a little longer and we don’t have Alberta beef problems like when it’s 30 or 40 C below zero in the winter time,” Tallman told CTV News Edmonton.

He says many people are misinformed about grass fed beef and feed lot beef.

“The feed of cattle in Canada has got corn mix in it as well and grain,” Tallman said.

Feedlot focuses on growth and weight gain within a short period of time, reducing the need for cattle to forage for food, according to the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association.

How the cattle is fed the last 120 days before it’s killed makes the biggest difference in how it tastes, Tallman said.

“Decibel nutrients is the finish feed that makes the finest meat in the world – Canada or Texas.”

He admits some of the finest beef he’s had is in Canada but would still prefer to eat a steak in Texas from his own cattle. 

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