While reading Michal Pollan's book Omnivore's Dilemma, I came home and told my husband that we couldn't buy our meat from Costco anymore. I further explained that I didn't really want to eat beef anymore unless it was 100% grass-fed. Now my husband loves beef and the thought of not having it in our house anymore really scared him. He started searching on the internet for sources of grass fed beef and he came across some great websites. Here is a great website for finding farms in your area... just click on your state on the map to find the farms: EatWild
My husband found a couple of farms in our area and started calling around to see what a grass-fed beef costs and where they were sold.
Lesson 1: a cow is referred to as a "beef" in the industry.
Lesson 2: grass-fed beef has a season - imagine that! It makes sense if you think about it.
Grass has a season and if the cow only feed on grass then it would make sense that the cows are harvested after the green grass season, as the prime growing season for the cows is when the grass is green. In Northern California, 100% grass-fed cows are harvested from about the end of May until the end of October. Feedlots do not worry about a season as they finish all their cows on corn, a food that cows actually cannot digest. Which is why feedlots have to give cows antibiotics as they get sick from eating the corn... [end rant, for more on this please read Omnivore's Dilemma... in fact if you are going to read this blog regularly, you should really just read this book].
Anyway we settled on buying our first cow from Open Space Meats from Farmer Seth. When Farmer Seth came to drop off the cow... yes he drove to San Francisco and dropped it off in 8 large coolers... he said "She was a good cow." Now I really had a whole new relationship to the beef I was eating... she was a "good cow"... and we decided to name her Bessie. Sorry if naming the cow that we eat offends anyone, but if you know my husband and our friend Jessie you know that is is totally their humor. Our second cow we named Ethyl!
We split the cow with three other families and we were amazed at how good the meat tasted. It was different and it took a little while to get used to cooking it - grass fed beef is much leaner than traditional feedlot meat so it cooks differently. It is so nice to know where our meat is coming from and to know that there are no growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics in our meat. The next thing on our list to do is go visit Seth's farm so we can see where our beef is raised.
Lesson 3: grass-fed beef is tasty!!!
Lesson 4: grass-fed beef is healthy
That is right...grass-fed (pasture raised) beef is healthy. It is much lower in fat, has many more omega-3's, and is higher in Vitamin E than corn fed beef. (See an article on nutritional benefit here.) In fact, grass-fed beef has been said to lower bad cholesterol. Wow! Tasty, nutritious and healthy for our environment. And there is so much more that I haven't even touched on here.
In the end, if you can't get a whole beef or part of a beef because of cost or storage issues, you can always buy grass-fed beef from your local farmer's market or local butcher. We love Drews Bros Meats on Church Street if we need to buy smaller quantities of local meat. You can also find restaurants in your area that serve grass-fed and local beef...check out the full EatWild website as it has a ton of information and resources.
So, my final word on the topic... Moo.