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Grass Fed Beef - Luc?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I like good beef, but I've not been eating much of it because of the generally shoddy practices of the cattle industry, such as the use of hormones, antibiotics, poor quality feed, feedlot practices, and inhumane treatment of the cattle, amongst other things. And, for several reasons, I want to buy as "local" a product as possible.

Over the past few months I've found some companies that are more concientious regarding their care and concern for the cattle, and a number of smaller companies that are producing higher quality beef and which are local, meaning that the beef is raised and processed within a couple of hundred miles of Berkeley, some even closer.

Now, I have a question about grass fed beef. Some claims I've read say that the beef is leaner than grain fed beef, contain more CLA than than other types of beef, has more Omega-3 fatty acids, more vitamin E, C, and beta carotene, and that it can actually lower your "bad" cholesterol. Does anyone have any knowledge about the veracity of these claims?

BTW, I love the taste of pastured and fully grass fed beef. Regardless of the the truth behind the claims, you might want to give it a try and see how you like it.

shel
post #2 of 25
Sorry, I don't have time right now to find all my documentation, but I was just at a conference where there was a great deal of discussion by farmers about raising livestock as you describe. Basically, they gave citations to back up those claims. I'll try to find some of it soon.

But one point: locally raised livestock might not be locally processed. USDA-approved processors (who must be used for meat that will be sold) are few and far between, quite literally, so livestock may have to be shipped hundreds of miles each way between farm and processor and back. Kinda throws "locavores" for a loop. So one important issue is where and how the livestock are raised, not where they are processed -- although the care and cleanliness at the processor is equally important, imo.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Good point - It's my understanding that the beef I'm considering is locally processed. I'll look into that further. Any other information that you can provide would be appreciated. No hurry.

BTW, I seem to recall that at least a couple of Northern California (one or two less than 50 miles from Berkeley) producers/ranchers do their own processing as well, but it may only be for individuals, not full-on commercial processing. By that I mean one buys the steer for their own use, and it is slaughtered at the ranch and dressed for the individual or group that has purchased the beef.

Thanks!

shel
post #4 of 25
Here in Canada, it is a different story (at least in Ontario). I buy my meat from an 'organic' butcher here in Toronto; all the beef is grass fed, hormone free, etc... and it is processed at a co-op jointly owned by a small number of like minded farmers, less than 50km's from where it lived and less than 100 km's from where it is sold.

Don't know the specifics about health claims / benifits, but it tastes great.

G.
http://www.legourmet.tv
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http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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post #5 of 25
The Turner New Zealand company has a good deal of information on this subject. It is federal law in New Zealand that livestock cannot be fed hormones, antibiotics, growth stimulants or anything else. All of Turner's beef is grass fed, and it is the best tasting, most tender beef I have ever served in my restaurants. It comes with a natural, 28 day minimum wet age and melts in your mouth. Did you know that if farmers didn't feed cattle dietary additives to aid their digestion, cattle could not live on a diet of feed corn? Most domestically raised beef is garbage.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
I wish it were a federalaw here ... <sigh> All the grass fed beef I've tried has been wonderful, and some of it has been aged before being sold. Yes, I recall reading that cattle need some dietary aids to help them digest the crap they're being fed - and here in the US, I wish it was only corn and some other grains they are getting.

I wonder haw many people would stop eating beef, or move to better quality beef, if they saw the crowded, filthy conditions in the feedlots, breathed in the stench, and really knew what their beef was being fed.

shel
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Doing a little research, I found that two of the producers that I'm considering buying beef from use processors local to them.

"Since early 1995, Prather Ranch Meats in Butte Valley, Siskiyou County, has used it’s own USDA approved organic slaughterhouse. The abattoir was built using a Temple Grandin design, which is an important factor in helping them achieve a “Certified Humane” designation. Each cow is tagged (and traceable) from birth and fed only organic grass, grains and hay grown on the ranch. After slaughter, the bones and collagen go to pharmaceutical companies and the meat goes to the Prather Ranch Ferry Building store for retail sale. It’s a very tidy and unique system, that just can’t be replicated anymore. Opening their facility to other ranchers would seem like a viable option if not for the fact that the Prather herd has been closed since 1975. A closed herd allows for the collection of multi-generational data, thorough accountability and traceability of all of their cattle. Their closed herd status is also an important part of their organic certification and opening their slaughterhouse to other cattle would jeopardize that status."

The other uses a facility located in the same county as the herds and the ranches, and is therefore quite close to the cattle. The beef is only sold in a limited area, and the dressed meat travels less than 200 miles from the slaughterhouse to Berkeley - and, believe it or not (at least from what I've read) it's open to the public. Amazing!

All our meat is processed by Redwood Meat Co. They are a small family owned and operated facility in our area. They are a USDA inspected plant and also certified organic by CCOF to insure that the meat you are buying passes the strictest guidelines to insure your safety. As they are a small facility, everything is done the old fashioned way . . . by “Hand”. We control every process, from start to finish, so you can count on getting the highest quality product possible.


shel
post #8 of 25
One of the waitresses was asking me one day if there weren't different levels of "prime" beef, and I was explaining that no, the grades are standard throughout the country. She brought in an article off the internet rating beef that had been fed different things. I don't have it and don't know what site it came from, but the concensus was that grass fed beef was the best. I was always told it was leaner and therefore drier, but according to this artcle, that wasn't the case. The only beef they rated higher was fed on barley. I don't think beef in the U.S. is anywhere near as good as it used to be. Even cuts rated prime seem to be dry, tough and tasteless. For the past few years I've thought that bulk hamburger smells just like s**t when it's cooking off. I can hardly stand to be around it. Shel, I don't know how much beef you use or if you have a freezer, but around here farmers raise custom beef for people. You can decide the breed and what it's fed and then the farmer takes it to a local processor for you.
post #9 of 25
This is quite ironic, i think, considering all the stories of e-coli infections derived from processing beef in the slaughterhouses, where fecal matter occasionally comes in contact with the meat and then is ground in the slaughterhouse. I don;t live in the states any more, so it's not a big worry for me, but it's ironic that these places would be USDA approved! How much money is behind the lobbies that control the laws that maybe at a certain point used to be to protect the consumer, and now are there to protect the industry.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
I used to eat much more beef than I do now. I stopped eating beef completely for a while because, as you suggest, the meat I was getting was awful. Buying ground meat was a crapshoot, and the thought of getting contaminated meat was not thrilling.

Over the last couple of years more and more quality meat is finding its way to the markets around here - meat that comes from local herds and iwhichnis often processed locally as well (still exploring the local processing angle). Now that there are some known sources, it's possible that there will be more beef on the table.

When I first saw grass fed beef in the market, I did a taste comparison between it and grain fed beef, both of high quality and organic. Man, what a difference. I vowed not to go back to grain fed beef, and certainly to never again eat regular commercial meat, such as found in most supermarkets and meat cases. Actually, by that time I was completely off commercial meat.

Now that there are several good sources here for fully pasteured grass fed beef, I'll be buying beef again. I just need to find the best markets for the product - there are several around here, so it's a matter of determining freshness, price, value, and, of course, which markets carry the desired cuts. I also want to buy meat that is humanely raised and slaughtered.

shel
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
A very good reason not to buy commercial ground beef. Bear in mind, also, that a lot of commercial ground beef comes not from the US, but other countries, like Argentina, Chile, and other South American countries. Sometimes the meat is ground in these countries, frozen, and shipped to the US in that form, and other times it comes up here to be processed into ground beef and "hamburger." It's often possible to get meat from several countries in a single batch.

shel
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Grassfed Site

I found this site today ...

Eat Wild

shel
post #13 of 25
IF my name is in the title, I should answer, right?
Thanks for the vote of confidence Shel. (obviously my reply will be long as usual)

Pretty much everything you heard/said here is true (except beef is never an important source of vitamin C unless you eat it raw).

You should read the Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan which treats this subject very well. (other books are also written on the subject like one from Susan Allport: the Queen of fats)

Why are grass fed cows healthier because they are meant to eat grass! They are herbivores! They have 4 stomachs to be able to digest grass not corn. Cows are not rodents that should eat corn and grains. They get sick when eating that stuff to the point that digestive enzymes need to be added to their feed so that they can actually digest it! The get sickly from not eating according to their evolution so they require antibiotics to fight infections.

We humans have evolved to eat herbivores (that eat grass not grains).
Only in the past 30yrs or so have cows been fed corn. What has changed? is our diet is now very high in omega6 fatty acids vs omega 3. When cows were only grass fed (before 1970-80) the ratio omega 6 to 3 was close to 1:1 today it is 40:1 or so worst. (see Slanker from Texas:Fatty Acid Analysis)
We are missing omega 3 fatty acids in our diets. (eating wild game is also balanced in omega 6 and 3 closer to 1:1).

Grass fed cattle take longer to fatten up. feeding them corn, is like putting them on a fast food diet so they fatten up as big as adults in their teen years (sounds familiar to teen obesity today). Corn fed cattle are stressed in feedlots, teenage obese with weak immune systems that rely on antibiotics to survive.

Also, theories are being proposed that E. Coli O157.H7 has evolved in the stomachs/GI tract of corn fed cattle. The main clue is all E Coli are acid sensitive but O157.H7 can resist acids maybe because it has evolved in the GI tract of corn fed cattle that is acidic compared to a grass fed cattle or other wild ruminants. Probably being bathed in antibiotics helped in the resistance and evolution of this bug.

Shel if you can afford grass fed cattle buy only that (bison is another good alternative). Unfortunately, I cannot afford it (for now at least). I may know a lot of things but I may not know how to make money (grin).

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #14 of 25
Just met a likable young man giving out samples of his family's grass-fed beef at the local Whole Foods. The farm is in southeast Missouri, near my family's ancestral farm- run for decades by my uncle, who was very, very big in the Aberdeen Angus show circuit in the 1940's, 50's, 60's and 70s. Turns out he knew my uncle.

I lamented that Esicar's Smoke House in Cape Girardeau closed last fall after 72 years, leaving me without a country ham for Christmas. (I've ordered one from a Kentuckey family packer.) He looked a little suprised, and said, yeah, he knew about it- and his family was trying to buy it and start it up again!

I've got his name and number and said I'd call in August and order if they put the deal together.

Their brochure says

"Our cattle are born, raised, and finished on open grass pastures in the rolling hills of southern Missouri... and receive a foirage diet free of herbicides, pesticides, and artificial pesticides as they are continually rotated to fresh new pastures...

"...our cattle are harvested in our own processing facility under our direct supervision... dry aged for 14 days to concentrate the beefy flavor and tenderize the beef. It is then broken down by skilled butchers who take pride in their art of cutting beef."

The sample beef was excellent. I'm going to call and see what they've got.

AmericanGrassFedBeef
(866)-255-5002
(573)-996-3719 fax
Steaks - Beef - Grass Fed - Dry Aged

Just too a look at this website-a really nice one. The prices are fairly steep, but not really much above Whole Food's dry-aged prices. I'm gonna give 'em a try.

Mike :chef:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Good for you, Mike! There really is a difference, and by purchasing their meat you're helping to support small family farms and business.

For those interested in finding out more about grass fed beef and tastier chickens and eggs, check this link: Eat Wild

These are the criteria for being listed: Criteria - Eat Wild

shel
post #16 of 25
AmericanGrassFedBeef is in fact listed in Eatwild.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #17 of 25
and also Michael Pollan's book: The Omnivore's Dilemma, right smack on the homepage.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
I noticed that.

shel
post #19 of 25

Buffalo meat

If you are interested in buffalo meat, I can recommend buffalogal.com. Their buffalo farm is about 30 miles from me. There is also an Indian tribe that I believe is in Missouri or Kansas who raise wild buffalo on grazing lands. They have a mobile processing unit that is comprised of several semi trailers. They go out on the range and process the buffalo on the spot. I know they ship the meat all over, but I can't remember their name. I'll try to do some research and see if I can find it. A lot of people in my area have buffalo and elk farms, but for some reason the meat is hard for an individual person to access. They both turn up on local restaurant menus at several places, but not in the small meat markets or grocery stores. You can also look for suppliers on the National Bison Association web site. I looked at one producer in Missouri (Thunder Ridge) whose prices are more than reasonable. There was no shipping info available, so I don't know how expensive that would be. Buffalo is very good meat. People are sometimes put off by the idea of it because they tend to associate it with venison. They are completely different animals and their meat is nothing alike taste wise. Buffalo is not at all gamey. It has less fat and cholesterol than white chicken, with all the satisfaction associated with red meat. Unlike other animals, buffalo do not get cancer
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

Buffalo? Maybe ....

Just a word of caution, especially to those buying "buffalo" meat from unknown sources.

There is buffalo and there is bison. The American plains animal is bison - bison bison to be more accurate - and the meat is not the same as the various types of buffalo, such as cape buffalo, water buffalo, and so on.

More than likely, if you buy "buffalo" meat here in the US, from reputable sellers, you are getting bison, or at least some bison. But you could be getting something else. Learn where the meat you buy comes from.

Why the emphasis on some? Because labeling laws in the US are sometimes vague, and what you see described on the package may not be what you get in the package. By law, a package labeled as buffalo meat can contain as much as 49% of other meat, usually beef, but sometimes other meat.

If you want buffalo meat, or rather bison meat, be sure you're getting 100% bison. And look for grass fed bison, not grain fed or grain finished. The meat looks and tastes quite a bit different.

How did bison become known as buffalo - well, that's another show <LOL>

Years ago bison was hard to come by as the herds were very small and their harvesting was pretty well regulated. The way I recall it, people would pay a lot of money to certain native American tribes for the privilege of hunting bison. It was during that period I met a fellow who lived in Montana, and, being native American, he could get pretty much get all the bison he could eat. I met his family - mainly his sister, her husband, and his grandparents when I spent a summer living in Montana. It was during that time I enjoyed true bison, cooked properly, for the first time.

Now that the meat is finding it's way into the mainstream, it's easier to get, and it's easier to get good quality bison meat. If you've never tried it, I urge you to take it for a "taste drive." You may be pleasantly surprised at what you've been missing.

shel
post #21 of 25
Tatunka!
(Dancing with wolves)

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
A few years ago I was travelling through South Dakota, not far from where some of Dances With Wolves was shot. There's a neat tourist place called "1880s Town" which is comprised of a lot of original old buildings - some refurbished, but most not - that were moved to the site in order to preserve them and protect them from demolishion or just turning into dust. The buildings were laid out like a regular town.

Before going out to the town, one passes through a large octagonal (if memory serves) building, and upstairs in that building was a lot of memorabilia from the movie. One of the things I learned from that visit was that a number of bison used in the film were from Canada, and were part of Neil Young's herd. That little tidbit of info really fascinated me.

shel
post #23 of 25
Apparently, after the systematic killing of the whole bison population from the American plains to eliminate the native opposition, the only wild herds left in existence of the prairie bison were in Canada.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
He's got a few other books that are worth reading, and a plethora of articles as well. The link below makes many of his articles available on line. Especially interesting - to me at least - is his dialogue with Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. Sometimes he can be seen at one of the local farmer's markets, or so I've been told. I've not yet run into him.

Michael Pollan - Articles

Home Page

shel
post #25 of 25
Guess that depends on how one defines "wild".

For instance, in Roosevelt National Park, in North Dakota, there is a free-ranging herd; one of several such in the U.S.

I'm working on memory now. It's been ten years since I researched this. Back then there were something like 75,000 bison living in the U.S.

Kansas has three state herds, but even the largest doesn't have as much land to roam as the one at Roosevelt.

Montana has a free-ranging herd in, as I recall, the Henry Mountains. There's even a fair-chase hunting season for them.

It's gotten to the point that states that had historically had woods bison are looking to restore them, using existing plains bison stocks. For instance, Kentucky is looking at restoring them to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Thanks to these and other public herds, and the many private herds that dot the United States and Canada, the bison have made an incredible comeback. Certainly not the millions that once dotted the plains. But enough to assure their survival.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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