Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dam Ranch Grass-Fed Beef

Did you know that cows were not designed to consume grain and silage?

Last week a friend and I made a crazy trip to a "local" farm an hour and a half away to buy fresh beef raised without hormones, steroids, antibiotics, or grains. We purchased free range beef, grass-fed and grass-finished, at a price cheaper per pound than the grain-fed, natural variety at my local grocer. The catch is that you have to buy in large quantities that are equal to an eighth of the cow, or more. You have to put a deposit down on the meat while the animal is still living, so you end-up waiting a minimum of 30 days for the animal to be slaughtered, dry aged and butchered. You end-up with about 40% ground beef, and 60% steaks of every variety and a few roasts. If you are lucky, the farmer will throw-in a heart, tongue, or tallow if no one has yet claimed it.

The benefits of grass-fed beef are very well known. The fat present in the meat is "good" fat that helps your cholesterol levels stay healthy. Rich in vitamins A and E, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and lower in saturated fat than feed lot beef. There is much evidence that the amount of the antioxidant CLA present in grass-fed meat is helpful in preventing and even helping to cure cancer. One study showed hope that the superior grass-fed meat could even improve belly firmness. The risks of e.coli and other gross pathogens in grass-fed beef is much lower than in commonly available meat, due to the cattle never being confined to a feed lot filled with their own feces.

Grass-fed cattle are less detrimental to the environment than grain-fed cows. Since grains and feed were never shipped and processed for the cow, fuel costs and environmental impact is reduced right there alone. The complete method is much, much greener, due to the significant decrease in the need for antibiotics that get into streams, rivers, other bodies of water, and seep into the water table, when present in manure. Allowing the cows to live naturally, grazing, allows them to fertilize the land, naturally. Grass-raised cows are a really self-sufficient, sustainable practice.

I am happy to say that we have eaten very delicious grass-fed,
grass-finished, relatively local steaks and ground meat from The Dam
Below is the cattle farmer, Steve, with his egg-laying, pastured chickens.

So far, we have consumed a package of the ground beef, a Delmonico steak, and
a Filet Mignon steak. The ground meat wasn't overly lean, in my opinion, didn't dry out. The flavor tasted sharper than grocery store ground beef. Sharper in a good way, like a sharp cheddar cheese. I like strong flavors.

I ate the filet with a nice crust on the outside and rare center,
almost like ahi tuna is prepared. It was so soft, tender, juicy and
flavorful. It was just as good as any restaurant beef I've had... Ruth
Chris can keep their grain fed filets from now on!

You can find a similar product in your area using the following websites to locate a farm:

Eat Wild
Local Harvest
If you aren't that adventurous, don't have the time to visit a local farm, or can't find one, I have friends who have ordered grass-fed meats from this website and they are pleased with what they have gotten.