Sam is a firefighter/emt. He likes robust flavorful beef steak. Since he has blocks of days off, he thinks he can raise his own grass fed and finished beef for himself and a few friends and save or make a little extra money. So he buys 15 steer calves. He makes arrangements to pasture them at Farmer Jones place. He loads them in the trailer, gets to Farmer Jones’ place and Farmer Jones says,”I don’t have enough feed for you guys.” So now Sam is scrambling to find feed. Finally he does find summer pasture with Gentleman Farmer. Summer pasture fizzles out in August. What to do now? Luckily gentleman farmer has some good alfalfa hay. The cattle start eating hay. This costs Sam more money than anticipated. By early winter, Sam wants to just get out of the beef business, but the steers are 1100 pounds which is too big for a conventional feedlot, but too small to really be finished. Gentleman farmer offers to buy the steers at a small premium to fair market price live weight because he knows where the animals come from and how they have been treated. Sam thinks he should be able to do better, so he looks for a buyer…and along comes a company that offers him what seems like a premium price based on hanging weight (the carcass weight after slaughter). This company has a small ranch, a nice grass fed label (to maintain appearances), a relationship with a very large packer hundreds of miles away, and a contract with Walmart. Market day is established and big beef buyer calls and says, “Not today” and another date is established. Finally, days later, big beef buyer picks up six animals (just 6 because that’s what he needs to finish filling the truck load of other animals he has consolidated from all over), trucks them to the slaughter plant and reports the hanging weight to Sam. Sam is astounded that the hanging weight is only 48% of the live weight 1100 pounds. Big beef buyer has Sam over a barrel. Sam knows that the hanging weight should have been at least 55% or more, but what can he do? The packer scales don’t lie do they? So, Sam gets his paycheck minus at least 7% or more of what it should be.
Sam is not happy and cancels the sale of the other 9 steers to big beef buyer. Now he comes back to gentleman farmer and says “is your offer still good?” Even though the general beef market has risen a little since the original offer, Sam is excited to haul the steers back to gentleman farmer and get paid real money for real live weight. Finally Sam is out of his hole.
Meanwhile, Big beef buyer packages up the ground beef (mostly ground because the cattle aren’t finished enough for a good steak) from the 6 steers along with the other consolidated bunch, ships it off to Walmart, where it is passed off to unsuspecting customers as “Grass Fed” beef with no “Added hormones or antibiotics”. (Of course antibiotics and hormones aren’t added after slaughter, but what about before slaughter?)
This story is based on my own first hand knowledge of some of the characters and events involved. Names changed or omitted. Some of the lessons from this are:
1. Because “Grass Fed” is becoming popular now, it is drawing short cutters and profiteers.
2. Store bought beef may not be from a single animal, but a conglomeration of animals.
3. The farmer and consumer have no link (or responsibility) to each other in this industrialized food chain.
4. The ultimate Food Security relationship is this: Know your farmer, Know your food.
You may draw other lessons from this story. Let me know your thoughts.
Well, July 1 has come and gone and the people of Vermont have been shafted on their demand to have Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food labeled clearly. The Senate joined the House in being bought off by big money donors in passing legislation to keep us in the dark about what is really in our food. Whole Foods grocery chain also sold it’s soul in the bargaining process. So much for all the lip service to clean food, clean environment, truth in labeling, and state’s rights. You can see a nicely written article from the Missoulian at http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/george-ochenski-tester-right-on-gmo-labeling/article_dae24f21-0dd4-5f77-81ca-ea3d6f9bd661.html
I think we consumers will eventually win this issue–but thanks to our benevolent legislators it may be years out.
In the mean time, “Know your Farmer, Know your Food.”
We thank you for your support of our farm where we are really trying to do things right.
Recently got a flyer from consumer reports stating “We found bacteria signifying fecal contamination in ALL of the 458 pounds of beef we tested. For better and cleaner beef: Choose ‘grass-fed,organic’ beef, not beef from conventionally raised cows.”
I actually recommend grass-fed and grass-finished beef from Brady’s Beef in Idaho. We eat it and feed it to our grand kids as well. Of course I would recommend this as I am the rancher. But we really do go to great lengths to provide a safe, clean, healthy product. Thanks for your support.
Hershey Company, well known for it’s chocolate, has made a corporate decision to NOT use GMO sugar. They will not label their products with that information however. Those of you who follow this GMO debate, know that Hershey has been a huge monetary contributor to the political controversy surrounding mandatory labeling of GMO. Specifically, they do not want a mandatory labeling law.
Read this interesting article here. http://www.naturalnews.com/052941_Hershey_GMO_sugar_beets_labeling.html
Our Lab Results are Awesome
We have finally received the report on a laboratory sample of a ribeye steak. Ours was part of a survey/sampling of ribeyes from across the US. Our sample came in extremely good for the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids.
Typical feedlot beef is 6:1 or higher, heavily weighted toward the Omega 6.
Average of the grass fed samples submitted was 2:1
Our sample came in at an impressive 1.5 :1
We are very pleased to be able to offer this great of quality to our customers. This kind of testing is expensive and very few other suppliers will offer you this kind of information.
Two recent changes in government labeling laws will further hide where your food is coming from.
Change #1 is that the requirement for country of origin labeling (COOL) is being rescinded for meat imports from Canada and Mexico. This means that you will no longer know if your beef is from the US. Remember that the original mad cow scare originated in Canada?
Change #2 is that the USDA has just declared the word(s) “grass fed” meaningless and they will no longer enforce any protocol with regard to the use of that term on meat label. To me this is a mixed bag because the term has been misleading anyway inasmuch as a farmer could feed grain up to 90 days before slaughter and still call the meat product “grass fed” under previous rules.
Bottom line: First, you should know and trust your farmer/rancher personally. Second, you should ask your Farmer about his protocols for putting food on your table. Third, this should be another clue that the federal government is not really looking out for your interests nearly as much as it is looking out for large corporate interests.
Here at Brady’s Beef, we “Grass Finish” our cattle without the use of any grains or other starchy byproducts. We use no hormones or antibiotics. We invite you to visit the farm anytime.
Just took a snapshot out my west window. Looks cold, although it’s just 32 degrees and windy. This is part of our cow/calf herd with the tops of our greenhouses in the background below
Just a couple weeks ago, the ground was still green, and now we’re feeding hay.
I was just thinking what it takes to bring delicious grass/forage finished beef to our customer’s tables. Did you know it takes 3 years from conception to an actual steak on the table? The young cows (heifers) in that herd pictured have been 3 years in the making as well. By the time we get a harvestable beef from them it will be 2 more years–making a total of 5 years. As you all know, alot can happen in 5 years.
Next time you go to the freezer and pull out a pound of burger for a quick meal, remember that it was 5 years in the making. Slow down, enjoy your meal, enjoy the company, and give thanks for all the elements that have come together in your behalf.
So you’ve been to the store and/or seen the stories on your favorite media sources. Beef prices are up. Why? The national cow herd is the smallest in the past 60 years and demand (including export demand) for beef is steady. Costs of production are rising. Feed, pasture, labor, fuel, taxes, butchering costs are all up. Alternative meat sources are also more expensive. Hog prices are up because of scarcity of hogs due to disease. Chicken prices are also up.
What’s a consumer supposed to do? You will have to answer that for your own situation.
BUT….be aware of what you are eating. The meat suppliers and processors are getting squeezed too.
1) Packages are being downsized and the price stays the same, such as smaller hot dogs in a pack, or 14 ounces instead of 16 ounces. These kind of changes are shown on the fine print of the label.
2) Cellulose filler is used to extend the hamburger. McDonalds and Burger King are doing this.
3) Water and/or fat are added as weight extenders. Notice the frying pan after you cook a pound of ground beef.
4) Feedlots are using cheaper feeds such as manufacturing byproducts or weather damaged grains.
5) Hormone and antibiotic use in feedlots continues.
All of this is done in an attempt to mask real cost of production increases. The big food companies know we don’t want to spend more on food, so they become adept at hiding this reality from us.
At our farm and ranch, we don’t try to fool you. IN fact we strive to be truly transparent in what we’re doing. We eat this food too, and it is important to us to do the best job possible. You’re welcome to visit anytime. Appointments are appreciated, however for scheduling purposes.
We got to do a live TV shoot at our new greenhouse expansion this spring. If you like video, its cool. Here is the link:
Early this summer, I got to do an interview with Capital Press’ Ag Weekly. It shows and tells some of what we do in the spring. You’ll enjoy–its a quick read: http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20140804/plant-ranch-attracts-customers-despite-rural-locationNext Page »