Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beef, it's what's for...?


By now most of America has been scared off from red meat.  "It'll raise your cholesterol!", "It's full of fat!", and many other ridiculous assumptions.  The truth is beef, like ANY other food, *can* be bad for you if you eat the wrong kind and you eat too much.  If you're going to the steakhouse every weekend and inhaling a porterhouse, then yah, probably not doing yourself any favors.  Similarly, if you roll in to the golden arches on your lunch break, that's not beef you want to eat regularly (at all really, but we all have our vices).

If you read and followed my Friday Find from a couple of weeks ago, then you are already nodding your head.  Beef can be good for you!  Cows are meant to graze on grass, when they are allowed to do that, they are healthy.  Healthy cows don't need antibiotics, and steroids, hormones added to their diets.  In turn, when you eat beef from the healthy cows YOU aren't getting any of the added antibiotics, steroids, and hormones.  In addition, grass-fed beef is very lean, can actually lower your cholesterol, and is rich in omega-3s!  Do I have your attention now :) ?  Read more about it here. 


So now you're on board the grass-fed train, where do you get grass-fed beef?  The easiest way to try it would be to get it from a local grocery store, like Sprouts, it will probably be more expensive than regular beef, but remember it's BETTER for you, so in the long run it will save you money and your health.  It might taste different to you, for me, it was richer, more gamey, and delicious!  You will have to take care when cooking it, since it's very lean you might need to use some olive oil, there are some tips here.

Ok, say you have tried it and you're ready to make a permanent switch to eating only grass-fed beef.  The best way to go about this is to find a local farmer who raises grass-fed beef.  If you're in the Phoenix area, I HIGHLY recommend Date Creek Ranch.  They are fantastic people who truly care about what they are doing.

full shelf is 1/2 pig, bottom shelf is what's left of our 1/4 cow
You will order a quarter cow, I know this sounds daunting.  So two things, make sure you have a good separate freezer for your meat (you may find yourself doing this for pork and chicken too later on), and know that the meat will come butchered and it's not as much as you think, probably a shelf in a separate freezer, just one shelf.  See above one shelf for 1/2 pig, one shelf for 1/4 cow. You will not necessarily get to choose which cuts of meat you get, but that's part of deal.  Learning to use parts of the animal you never thought about.  Make a beef stock from neck bones for instance.  Use the whole animal instead of just going to your super store for specifically what you want, branch out, you may surprise yourself :).

We do this once, maybe twice a year.  It's a big one-time investment, but we live off of our 1/4 cow and 1/2 pig for probably 9 months at least, so I buy no beef or pork from anywhere else, at all, all of our produce comes from the farmer's market, so the only thing left is maybe some milk and yogurt from the super store.

So in the end, it's healthy protein for your family.  You're eating local, and keeping your money local, so supporting your community and ranchers.  AND you will be saving money in the long run, it is cheaper to buy meat this way, and for me at least, less trips to the super store mean less impulse purchases and thus money saved (that could totally be just me though :) ).

So are you convinced yet?  Ready to google grass-fed beef ranchers in your area?  Any questions?  What's your favorite grass-fed beef recipe?

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