My initial motivation to participate in farm internships was an interest in growing fruits and vegetables. I suppose that encountering animals on the land was a natural and inevitable process- although unexpected. It all started with a couple deer and a willingness to try something new, but I got my formal meat education at the butcher’s counter. I have been in love ever since. Today, that passion for local livestock keeps me planted firmly in Humboldt County because it is a place whose dedication to quality agriculture is unmatched anywhere else.
I have developed a special fondness for beef, specifically the local, grass-fed and finished variety. Educating people about the benefits of grass-fed/finished animals has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job to date. I know that many people are into GMO-free and organic certifications (which are great to have) but I think the most important qualities of the cow are scribbled across every box of beef in our cooler: LGF, meaning local grass-fed!
Grass-feeding is not only a more natural way to raise a cow, it is also more nutritious for the consumer of meat and dairy. Bet-cha didn’t know that grass-fed/finished cows have the distinction of being a legitimate source of omega-3 fatty acids (according to astudy from Australia’s National Institutes of Health). Grass-fed/finished beef also boasts the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 content. One of those omega-6s is a nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has many health benefits, including cancer fighting properties. Grass-fed/finished beef contains CLAs at three to five times the amount of their grain-fed counterparts, which makes it our best source of this nutrient!
Grass-fed/finished beef is also lower in overall fat than grain-fed beef. Personally, that makes me sad because fat equals flavor. And the flavor of grass-fed and finished beef is definitely different. One of my coworkers goaded me the other day by saying, “Some of us don’t like that gamey beef!” My response, “better learn to love it!” And I have. Since recognizing the two varieties with my own taste-buds, I can no longer tolerate the more marbled, grain-fed beef because it has too much fat and too rich a flavor that is sweet and oily on the palette. Today, I prefer the clean taste and beefier flavor of a grass-fed steak, where I can relish every bit of fat I find! Most people are accustomed to the taste of grain-fed meats so may have a hard time adjusting to the grass-fed flavor. Considering the alternative, you should give grass-fed/finished beef a go. It may be leaner, but the fat that it does have is much healthier, containing four times the amount of Vitamin E plus B vitamins, minerals, beta carotene and of course omegas.
There are many grass-fed and finished meats on the market in Humboldt County, which I personally believe is the biggest advantage to living here. At Eureka Natural Foods, we carry Clint Victorine’s Pacific Pastures and Eel River Organic Beef. Your local butcher can direct you to a cut that suits your needs and provide advice on how to prepare it. Have fun; yum yum!