Sign the Petition:
Search OCA:
Get Local!

Find Local News, Events & Green Businesses on OCA's State Pages:

OCA News Sections

Organic Consumers Association

Upping the Steaks: How Grass-Fed Beef is Reshaping Ag and Helping the Planet

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page, Factory Farms & Food Safety page and our Farm Issues page.

Bartlett Durand is the rare local-food entrepreneur who has no trouble turning a profit: Durand's Black Earth Meats processes and sells grass-fed beef, and these days grass-fed beef sells like crazy.

Located near Madison, Wis., Black Earth is an abattoir, an old-fashioned butchery containing everything from a slaughterhouse to a retail store. Its sales have doubled in four out of the last five years. Durand expects them to jump again this year, from $6 million to $10 million. Orders have poured in so swiftly that, in addition to artisan butchers, Black Earth had to hire a "chef liaison" to translate orders into cow anatomy.

"Chefs have been trained in the box beef codes and don't always know where the meat comes from on the animal," Durand explains. "A chef will say, 'I want a filet de round.' My butcher will say, 'What the hell is that?'"

Grass-fed beef, like "filet de round," is a concept that eludes people outside the beef industry. So a little background is in order.

In the months after birth, a calf drinks the rich milk of its mother. Once weaned, it might be lucky enough to follow mom around the pasture for a little while, munching grass - but sooner or later, it is customarily sent to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, a process somewhat like tossing an animal on a full-tilt assembly line. Cows left to fatten in the field are the ones that become "grass-fed beef." They gain the same weight, but more slowly, taking up to 14 months more, and yield a leaner beef. Some farmers of grass-fed beef are purists and leave the cow in the pasture till the day it dies. Others "cheat" by giving the cow a month or two of grain at the end, but in the comfort of the barnyard, not a 10,000-head feedlot. Durand sells both kinds.


>>> Read the Full Article

For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website using keywords: