More from The Wall Street Journal: Grass-Fed Beef: A Discerning Carnivore’s Guide (May 4, 2017)

May brought another good article on grassfed beef from The Wall Street Journal.  This article documents the author’s initial “less than perfect” experiences with the taste and tenderness of grassfed beef, and explains how grassfed beef has evolved.  We have to admit we have learned a lot, too.  And the drought of 2011 just about got us (and the cattle).

Anyway, the author explains that grain-finished beef (mostly CAFO-finished) is harvested at 18  to 20 months, whereas properly finished grassfed beef is harvested between 20 and 28 months.  (the author goes on to say that the tastiest beef comes from calves 28 months old, or older) We typically harvest near 28 months, and David has seen to it that “no calf is harvested before its time” – so we’ve been adhering to that model from the start.  Breeds are also cited, with Black Angus suggested as favorable for grass-finishing.  We feel the same way, and have been raising black calves since the beginning, using registered Angus bulls and mommas which are half Angus and half Hereford.  Herefords share a similar grass-heritage to Angus, and we have recently re-cowed with some beautiful Hereford mommas.

According to Dan Barber, quoted in the article and chef and sustainable-agrictulture crusader behind Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan, “With the right movement, the right genetics and the right slaughter, [grass-fed beef] is as tender as any grain-fed steak.”

One of the challenges, I believe, is that you need really green grass to finish the calves, and nature doesn’t always cooperate in West Central Texas.  One producer cited in the article, says he raises “extremely digestible grasses grown hydroponically in a building on his property”.  As my boys would say, LOL!

Also cited is the “buttery fat and yellow hue said to indicate a high vitamin content”.  We’ve definitely observed that – it tastes great, compared to the white fat produced on calves with grains.  Most of us don’t have the ability to determine what is Omega 3 fatty acid (the good one), and what is Omega 6 (the bad one). So, the obvious color and taste differences in the fat from grassfed beef are pretty stark, in-your-face indicators that something is really different about grassfed beef!

The article also mentions that grass-fed beef sales has been growing by more than 100 % annually, for the past 5 years, compared to 7 % for conventional beef.  Of course, there is a lot of catching up to do!

Also cited are what they (and we) call “dubious spins” like “pasture-raised” and “grass-fed, grain-finished” – which are really meaningless.  Even “natural” gets my dander up.  What does that mean, anyway?  Calves not grown in a Petri dish?  The worst in my opinion, though, is “vegetarian-fed”.  So, it’s illegal to feed meat to calves, and not a good idea anyway.  So all calves are “vegetarian-fed”!

It’s a long, well-researched article, including how to select grassfed beef, and how to cook it.  (we’ll try to include a synopsis of that, at a later date.)

The article can be found here, although it’s only available to WSJ subscribers:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/grass-fed-beef-a-discerning-carnivores-guide-1493920140

 

 

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“Grass-Fed Beef Is on a Roll” (WSJ, 9-21-16)

Grass-fed beef hit the front page of the Personal Journal, in the Wall Street Journal, on September 21, 2016.  This well-researched article explained that:

  • Grassfed beef is inherently more expensive than CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) beef, namely they said it takes 24  to 36 months for the beef to get to slaughter weight, versus 14 to 18 months for conventional beef (CAFO beef).
  • Grassfed beef sales are up 40 % in the last year, that flavor depends on the quality of the grass and that shoppers pay 30 to 80 % more for leaner beef, in general.

See the entire article, here (may require a WSJ subscription):

http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-grass-fed-beef-is-on-a-roll-1474388110

Also, grassfed beef was featured on Dr. Oz about a month ago.  The show featured Will Harris, who I met in 2010 at an American Grassfed Association convention.  Will and author Mark Schatzker explained the key differences between grassfed beef and grain-finished, CAFO beef:

http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/truth-behind-america-s-biggest-foods-cattle-rancher-who-sounding-alarm-beef-industry

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Lengua!

I hate to admit that we have not always utilized this special cut of beef, as we should have.

But we didn’t have anyone to cook it for us, until now!

Last year, Peter H. obtained a tongue from a small meat market outside of Austin.  His friend Laura E. F. prepared it, and it was great.  But she says – and I agree – that this tongue we had last night is far superior.  Laura grew up in Baja, Mexico, and has traveled all over.  She says that our Condalia Farms grassfed beef tongue is the best she’s ever tasted!  In addition to the taste, she said there is more usable meat in our tongues than in those from corn-finished beef – which have significant amounts of fat that she discards.

Here is Laura’s creation, from last night:

IMG_20160412_192732 Maybe Laura will authorize me to post her recipe …

(yes, the rice and beans were spectacular, too.)

 

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Grassfed butter and cheese …

No, David has not yet agreed to milk the logo cow, but he figures he could handle it.  Just no pictures, we don’t want to ruin his cowboy image …

In the meantime, it’s been on my list for a while to try to run down some reasonably-priced grassfed butter and cheese.  It only makes sense that if we are concerned about the Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio in the fat in our beef, then we should also think about these foods, especially given the fact that they are mostly fat.

As good fortune would have it, the local HEB now stocks Kerrygold products from Ireland, at reasonable prices.  I’ve tried both, and can recommend them on taste!

IMG_20151019_154651

IMG_20151019_154711As they say, don’t we all have a little Irishman in us???

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More on bones and marrow …

Getting the goodness from bones and marrow, in two steps:

1.)Cook the bones by roasting and remove marrow from bones:

  • Roast 15 min at 350 F – 375F, until some fat is running out of bones.
  • Remove from oven, remove marrow “hot dogs” from bones.

One way to use this marrow:

  • Spread on toasted French bread or bread of your choice.
  • Sprinkle on some finely chopped, raw greens (kale, lambs quarters, etc.) and onion with lemon, olive oil.  As options, mix the marrow 50/50 with grassfed butter before spreading (in a small food processor); add some chopped parsley to the greens.
  • If you like, top with a thin slice of grassfed sirloin.  We did this and had great results, as shown here:

MarrowSirloinBaguette

Another way to use the marrow – add it to stews or pot roast in the Crock Pot.

2.)Boil the “lightly roasted” bones to create a light broth.  (some others like to roast the bones until they are brown – that’s an option)

To cook bones by boiling:

  • Boil for 5 – 20 hrs.
  • Put in 1 – 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, last hour or so, to help dissolve more nutrients from bones.
  • Don’t use any salt.
  • Freeze in pints – boil it down more so it is strong (more like stock than broth) to save freezer space.
  • Add celery to this broth for fiber, use with meat, beans or rice.

From Janet G., with some additions from MP.

 

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Comments on latest T-bones …

Says new customers Curt and Annette N.:

"We had a couple T-bones tonight that were outstanding!"

CurtNTbonePic
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Bones and Marrow – a reference from Janet G.

Think about it:

For about 2.8 million years*, humans likely consumed the marrow inside bones as well as the cartilage surrounding the joints.

For about 100 years, we have not …

Only since 1900 or so has Hydrocarbon Man, in some but not all places of the world, had enough food to waste and/or disregard.  Prior to that, everything was used – right down to the squeal.

So, many believe that we are missing out on potential health benefits from consuming bone marrow and connective tissue, along with organ meats like liver.

Of course, the best way to avoid a lot of modern health issues … is to only live to be about 35 or so!  That’s the archaelology-derived (teeth and bones) estimated average lifespan of the historic American Indians. Of course that should probably not be used as a proxy for lifespans over the 2.8 million years of our existence, throughout the world; the Bible documents some really old folks, and it would make sense that in many areas of the world, people lived far longer than an average 35 years.  Of course, we almost died out about 70,000 BC when supervolcano Mount Toba blew out and caused a dramatic cooling – there were only about 2000 of us left … but I digress.

Anyway, shown below are some excerpts from dentist/pioneering nutritionist Weston A. Price, courtesy of customer and bone connoiseur Janet G.:

“Even foods to which individuals may be definitely sensitive, as proven by the leucopenic index and elimination diets, frequently may be tolerated with slight discomfort or none at all if gelatin is made part of the diet.”31

“By then, Dr. Gotthoffer had already turned up many earlier studies supporting gelatin’s role in digestion. Early in this century researchers showed that gelatin increases the utilization of the protein in wheat, oats, and barley, though not of corn; that the digestibility of beans is vastly improved with the addition of gelatin; and that gelatin helps the digestion of meat protein.32 The last appears to confirm the subjective reports of many people who say that meats found in soups and pot roasts–cooked with bones for a long time in a liquid to which a touch of vinegar has been added–are easier to digest than quickly cooked steaks and chops, and why gelatin-rich gravies are at the heart of many culinary traditions.”

“Confirming recent studies showing that glycine helps infants grow properly, Gotthoffer reports the existence of more than 30 years of research studies showing that gelatin can improve the digestion of milk and milk products. Accordingly, nutrition textbook writers of the 1920s and 1930s recommended that gelatin be included in infant formulas to help bring cow’s milk closer to human milk.”

So, even back in Price’s day there was discussion about digestion problems some folks may have with wheat (gluten?) and milk (lactose intolerance).  Maybe these issues are more at the forefront, today, due to the lack of bone marrow/gelatin in our typical diet?

* age of the oldest homo genus remains, in Ethiopia (Lucy, also from Ethiopia, was pre-homo, 3.2 million years old)
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Skirt steak marinade, from Ellen H.

Doug H.’s wife, Ellen, is quite a chef.  She was kind enough to share her skirt steak (fajitas) marinade recipe:

Skirt Steak Marinate 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander 
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
Cilantro 
Put all in a blender.

Many thanks, Ellen, I can’t wait to try it!

 

 

 

 

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New beef, record calf, record rain, July 2015!

Recently we were the recipients of that incredible deluge which filled Lake Buchanan from 55 % full, to 71 % full.  A narrow band of showers dropped 10.7 ” or so at the ranch, evidently due to a stalled front.  The Brownwood airport received 12″ that morning, over some 6 hours.  All this on a day when, in Austin, it looked like it shouldn’t be raining anywhere.

So, one large tank at the ranch caught 7′ of water and went on the spillway (along with the others).  It is now about 18′ deep!

IMG_20150721_100731

This month we just harvested and processed our largest calf to date, almost 1200# live weight.  At today’s cattle prices it is hard to make them into beef, but we still are.  Had to bump the prices just a bit, but we still offer a great value in quality, local, grassfed (and grass-finished) beef.

As I write this we are already a bit low on a couple of items, but we are processing two more next week.  So, send those orders in, holler and come on by!

As always, the Pricelist, some great recipes and more are located at our website:  www.lonestargrassfed.com

Thanks!

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Turtle burger rocks!

We had occasion to visit The Turtle Saturday night.  Of course, I had to try one of their burgers (using Condalia Farms Brand Steakburger).  The Saturday special was 1/2 # burger with horseradish sauce, and a yellow tomato slice.  Wow.  Chef Bubba continues to hit it out of the park!

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