John Brady is one of a now-rare breed of farmer-ranchers who comes from an unbroken chain of family farmers going back multiple generations. He is the third generation currently farming the same land in Idaho. After earning a degree in Agronomy and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics, borrowing money, and participating in USDA farm commodity programs during the 1970s, he has finally overcome most of that to be a maverick in doing things the “new old-fashioned” way, working with nature to raise beef the way it was intended: on grass, legumes and forage. Watch John move cows at BradysBeef.com, read the Brady’s Beef blog and keep up to date on all things Brady’s Beef on Twitter.
Editor’s Note: The following is the opinion of the author, and not necessarily that of Menuism. However, with tomorrow being Election Day nationwide, one thing we all certainly encourage is for you to get out and vote if you have not already done so. Let your voice be heard! – KK
As an Idaho observer with a passion for healthy food, I have a great interest in California’s current battle over Proposition 37, an initiative for labeling food products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). (more…)
Some consider meat eating unethical due to its environmental impact, animal cruelty, human health issues, or various other reasons. They might like to enjoy an occasional juicy grilled beef steak, but can’t quite justify it. If this includes you, here are my top five reasons why you should go ahead and enjoy real grass-finished beef.(more…)
We just had the privilege to escape our Idaho winter for a Caribbean cruise to the Panama Canal. This is about the only way I ever get close to a venue for sampling four- or five-star dining. I don’t know what the rating is, but the dining rooms are a lot fancier than the usual places I go when we eat away from the ranch. And, of course, presentation is everything. Dinner takes two hours.
Besides the fruits and vegetables, pastries, and desserts, and other unknown (to my experience) items, we got to sample all varieties of seafood, poultry, pork, lamb, and beef. It was really interesting and fun to have so much variety. It’s also quite all right to be home now enjoying some standard home cooking that my lovely wife specializes in. (more…)
In previous columns we have talked about what it means to raise and finish a beef and about the art of butchering. Today we’ll discuss an intermediate critical step called aging. The purpose of aging is first to tenderize, second to change (and hopefully improve) flavor, and thirdly to increase juiciness. Aging is a process unique to beef and some wild game because of the maturity of the animal at slaughter. Common young meats like chicken, pork, veal, and lamb do not require aging. (more…)
It’s a fact we all know, but often choose to ignore: the juicy grass-finished beef steak on our plate was once part of a bovine. At the farm, we strive to make our animals comfortable and content so that they will grow and develop in a stress-free environment. This is good for the animal, the forages, the land, and for the farmer. The cycle of life moves along until the measure of creation is fulfilled for the animal—and we omnivores continue that cycle at the dinner table.
A significant part of the field-to-fork process in the meat industry is the butchering of an animal. So I spent some time with my butcher the other day in order to share a behind-the-scenes look at butchering. The cutting of meat is somewhat of an art form, with lots of cultural variations. The standard American cuts that you see at the grocery store or on a chart such as this one distributed by the Beef Council tell only part of the story. Meat cutting is the art of identifying and separating the muscle groups from the bones and sinews. Once the muscle groups are separated, they can be sliced and trimmed into the familiar cuts of beef. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting beef cuts.
[Warning: The following photos may be too graphic for non-meat eaters! Read on at your own discretion.]
Writing about grass-fed and grass-finished beef has been a fun and interesting experience. The fun part is getting reader feedback. The interesting part is learning about consumers’ experiences with grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Even though the focus of my most recent article was the health benefits of grass-fed beef, I got a lot of comments about the eating experience, which covered a wide range of experiences—everything from grass-fed beef is “tough as shoe leather” to noting that the flavor is “far superior” to commodity beef.
That’s why I’d like to discuss the “eatability” (not to be confused with edibility), or the eating experience associated with grass-fed or grass-finished beef. (Read about the difference between these two terms.) On my family farm, we raise grass-finished cattle, which means the animals are never fed grain or similar high-starch diets; they’re brought to a mature fattened state on forages (grass and legumes) alone. Many factors contribute to the eatability of beef, including animal stress, butchering and aging processes, storage conditions, and more. To keep it simple, this article will discuss only the three primary factors that affect the eatability of grass-fed beef: the lean-to-fat ratio, flavor, and manner of preparation. (more…)
I had an eye-opening experience at a pig farm about five years ago. Since we usually buy a couple feeder pigs in the fall to utilize our garden scraps, I went to the hog farm to get a couple pigs. This was a small to moderately sized pig operation—but definitely a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO, aka “factory farm”). I wasn’t ignorant about the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, but this was one of those days when reality struck. While I was there getting my two piglets, the delivery truck rolled up and unloaded a 4x4x4-foot pallet loaded with antibiotics—a month’s supply. Wow!
Even if you know nothing about raising pigs, doesn’t common sense make you wonder how healthy the pigs are in the first place if that much antibiotic is needed? (more…)
Having beef for dinner? Beef is one of the most versatile ingredients around. Will you have a steak, roast or burger? How will you prepare it: grilled, baked, roasted, fried, marinated? Whether you consult your favorite restaurant menu, cookbook or the Internet, the possibilities are practically endless. But when it comes to the first choice you have to make—about the beef itself—what will you choose? (more…)
A few months ago, there was a TV commercial that compared the driving experience in a high performance sports car to eating grass-fed beef. I’ve since forgotten the details about what kind of car it was, but the comparison was memorable and apt: being a producer (and consumer) of grass-fed beef has been quite a ride over the past few years. (more…)