Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eating Local - Beef

Of course I love to cook (hence the blog) and I love exotic ingredients from around the world. But our family also tries to support local food producers as much as we possibly can. That means getting locally grown produce from our CSA and from the area farmer's markets. We also buy our beef one cow at a time. Well, we usually split a whole cow purchase with a friend so we get half a cow at a time. This is usually about 300 pounds of meat after processing.

A half a cow will usually last our family about a year and a half. We don't eat beef every day. We were getting our beef from a North Dakota farmer in the past but this year we bought from Evavold's Oak Grove Farm across the river in Battle Lake, Minnesota. The cows are pasture raised and spend most of their life grazing on grass. During the winter months they are fed corn silage. They are natural without added hormones or unnatural supplements. We think this is the best of both worlds. Grass fed beef produces meat with a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids but sometimes leads to leaner, less flavorful meat. On the other hand, cows that are fed a grain based diet have great tasting meat but almost no healthy omega-3 fats. The combination of feeding at Evavold's should provide just the right balance of healthy and good tasting meat.

The cows are humanely slaughtered and hung for two weeks before being processed at J & B Meats in Barnseville, MN. Another reason we like to buy local beef a cow at a time is because the meat is processed from a single cow and not mixed with hundreds of other animals in a large processing facility. I believe this tremendously reduces the risk of salmonella or other nasty bacteria contaminating the final product. I feel better about cooking my burgers medium rare when it is from a single cow. All the meat is vacuum packed and frozen so it stays fresh and tasty for a very long time.

Our recent half cow purchase gave us many different cuts of meat including ribeye steaks, T-bones, all kinds of roasts, about 80 pounds of ground beef, and various other cuts. I even requested the oxtails which usually don't come with the cow and are nearly impossible to find in our local stores. The best part about all of this? It only cost us about $2.60 per pound for a product that is exponentially better than you can get in the grocery store. They even drove it up and delivered it to our house for free.

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

I'm so with you on the buying local and the grass fed beef. I've been trying different beef from local ranchers in Az. As soon as we find our favorites we'll be purchasing a whole cow (and splitting with friends, as you do) I think its a great way to support local agriculture, eat healthier and know that the animal lived a better life than those that are moved to CAFO's for their last days. Kudos, Greg!