If you buy grassfed meat, you know that the price is rising. Every producer I know has raised their prices. If an Internet producer charges you the price of shipping, that cost has increased as well.
Nobody likes to pay higher prices, especially in a tough economy. But in this case, I am going to continue to buy just as much grassfed meat as ever, and even more when I can. Why?
Because I want to be able to get grassfed meat, now and in the future. If I want to have the unique health benefits of grassfed meat for my family, I am going to have to support the ranchers who raise it, even in these tough times. And I invite you to join me. Because if we do not support them, grassfed meat could no longer be available.
Why the Grassfed Industry Is in Danger
There are a number of reasons that have worked together to cause the rise in prices. The rise in prices threatens the very existence of the grassfed meat industry, as will be shown.
The Increasing Cost of Fuel
Everyone knows how much the price of fuel has risen. This means that the cost to ship feed, cattle, and meat have increased enormously. In fact, the cost to ship ANYTHING is much more expensive. Shipping costs are a big expense for every rancher, and they continue to go up.
The Increasing Cost of Soy and Corn
The cost of soy and corn has greatly increased. Soy and corn are used to feed factory cattle. You might ask, “What does the cost of soy and corn have to do with grassfed cattle?” After all, the grass is free. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. With soy and corn being so valuable, a number of farmers that used to raise cattle have decided they can make more money raising soy or corn, and have sold their herds, converting their pasture to cropland. It is much easier to grow seasonal crops than to nursemaid a herd of cattle 365 days a year. Less cattle being raised has created the most crucial part of the problem—a greatly reduced supply of feeder cattle.
The Shortage of Feeder Cattle
Feeder cattle are steers that are old enough and large enough to go to the feedlot. Again, you may ask, what do feedlot cattle have to do with the price of grassfed beef? Quite a lot, unfortunately. Because the high cost of feed has changed what the feedlots are looking for. The feedlots now want cattle to be kept on pasture longer, so the feedlot needs less feed to bring them up to slaughter weight.
For example, in one area, the feedlots would only buy a steer at the weight of 500 pounds. Today, the price of feed is so high that the feedlots want to buy steers at 1000 pounds—twice the weight. That greatly reduces the amount of feed the feedlots will have to buy to bring the steer to market weight. This situation makes the pasture that the steer eats to reach 1000 pounds very valuable. Obviously the steer sold at 1000 pounds will raise a lot more money than the 500-pound steer.
Steers destined for feedlots are competing for pasture with grass-finished steers. The shortage of feeder cattle has caused the price to rise to the point where a grassfed farmer will not make much more money for raising a grassfed and grass-finished steer. It takes about twice as long to finish a steer on grass as it does on feedlot feed, and requires much more work and effort from the rancher, for not very much more money.
In other words, selling cattle to a feedlot has become much more attractive financially. Selling more cattle to feedlots reduces the supply of grassfed meat, and causes the price to rise.
And this is the great danger. If more and more grassfed farmers give up on raising grassfed beef and sell to the feedlots, the supply of grassfed beef will be reduced. The price will continue to rise to the point that only the truly rich can afford grassfed meat. If that happens, the movement is dead. The best way we can keep this from happening is to pay the prices charged by the quality grassfed producers who charge the least, so they can stay in business and thrive.
We are lucky that there are many grassfed ranchers who are doing their best to keep the price down, because they want people to be able to afford this wonderful food.
We need not sacrifice quality to do this. In fact, most of the best meat is raised by those small ranchers who try to make their meat affordable for most people, rather than focusing on catering to the super rich. All of these dedicated farmers have had to raise their prices, and I will pay them, because I know what is at stake. Grassfed meat is one of the healthiest foods we can eat, and is irreplaceable, in my opinion. Health Benefits of Grassfed Meat
Careful Shopping Can Help
Comparison shopping can help reduce the cost of grassfed meat. There is a huge difference in price among various producers and retailers.
For my area, the best buys I have found are these:
I buy all of my local grassfed meat from Humboldt Grassfed Beef, which sells its wonderful grassfed meat at Lunardi’s markets, an eight-store chain in the San Francisco Bay Area, and to other retailers in California. Their meat costs much less than the meat carried by Whole Foods, for example, and tastes much better.
When I shop on the Internet, I buy most of my meat from U.S. Wellness Meats, which charges only $7.50 for shipping and handling for most orders, has many of the lowest prices on the Internet, a huge selection of wonderful grassfed meat, regular sales, and a number of ways to save.
You can also save a lot of money by buying a whole steer, a half steer, or a quarter steer from a local farmer, though you will need a lot of freezer space. Eatwild.com has a list of such farmers, by state.
I am going to continue to buy just as much grassfed meat as ever, even at the higher prices, because I want to preserve the availability of humanity’s oldest and most valuable food. And because I love to eat it!
Pink Slime, also known as “Soylent Pink,” has been in the news recently. Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps and inedible parts of the steer, which are so heavily contaminated with bacteria that the government requires that it be treated with ammonia, before being processed into a pink glop that is added to meat products, usually hamburger. The sole purpose for doing this appears to be to increase the weight of the hamburger, with this dirt cheap additive, to increase profits.
I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would want Pink Slime in their hamburgers. Even McDonalds and Burger King stopped using it. Yet the Department of Agriculture bought seven million pounds of Pink Slime for the school lunch program. And it is estimated that seventy percent of the hamburger sold in the United States contains Pink Slime.
Nobody wants to eat it, but it is not that easy to avoid. You will not find it on the label, because the government does not require that Pink Slime be labeled. But I have found a good way to avoid it—buy only grassfed hamburger, from a trusted source, preferably a small rancher.
Why I Avoid Pink Slime
Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps, parts of the steer that are exposed to fecal matter during processing, and inedible parts of the animal such as tendons. These animal parts can be made edible only through heavy processing.
These animal parts are so heavily contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, that the government requires that they be processed with ammonia, a caustic chemical. The U.S. government claims the processing makes it safe. But the U.S. government strictly limits the percentage of Pink Slime that can be added to meat products. If Pink Slime is totally safe, why limit the amount that can be added? And I do not want to ingest ammonia, which is a caustic poison, even in the amounts the government considers safe. Pink Slime is banned for human consumption in Great Britain.
Finally, even if the U.S. government is right, and Pink Slime is totally safe—why would anyone want to eat it? At best, it is nothing but a cheap filler material that increases the weight of the hamburger so the seller can make more profit. Do you want to eat a filler material? I do not. I don’t know anybody who does.
Pink Slime Is Not Labeled
The U.S. government refuses to require that Pink Slime be disclosed on food labels. They claim it is meat, and no further labeling is necessary. Of course, if Pink Slime was on food labels, in a way that customers understood, nobody would buy the product, and profits would suffer.
I think our basic human freedom to choose what we eat is denied when industry is not required to disclose the presence of ingredients that nobody would want to eat, but the government does not see it that way. So, if Pink Slime is not labeled, how do you avoid it?
How I Avoid Pink Slime
My method is simple. I buy grassfed hamburger only. Not only is it much tastier and healthier, it almost certainly does not contain Pink Slime. I found this out when I polled every rancher whose meat I eat.
I am happy to report that US Wellness Meats, Homestead Natural Foods, Alderspring Ranch, Gaucho Ranch, and Humboldt Grassfed Beef do not use Pink Slime, and never have. My rancher friends explained to me that the economics of using this kind of filler material have little or no benefit for a small operation. Even more importantly, none of these fine producers would want to ruin the quality of their terrific grassfed hamburger by adding processed glop to it.
While I will be sure to ask if I buy grassfed meat from another ranch, I am confident that I will not find Pink Slime in grassfed hamburger. And that is yet another reason to eat grassfed meat. After all, we are what we eat, and who wants to have any part of their body made from Pink Slime?
I want to recommend the Facebook page started by my friend Kimberly Hartke of the Weston A. Price Foundation—No Pink Slime in My Burger—as a great source of information about the Pink Slime issue, with many excellent links to informative articles.
Some years ago, I was going to lunch with two friends. The restaurant had a special, a brisket pot roast that smelled wonderful, and made us all hungry. One of my friends wanted to order the special, but he was afraid. He said “That looks so good, but it will clog my arteries and take years off my life. I cannot risk it.” He ordered a chicken salad he did not want and did not enjoy. He had no chronic disease, but he was afraid that one serving of meat would shorten his life.
Fear is the great convincer. Fear overwhelms reason, education, logical thinking, and common sense. Fear is used routinely by the government, the medical profession, the food industry, and large corporations to get us to do what they want.
Fear has been used very effectively in scaring people to change what they eat. We are told that we must have GMOs, or the world will starve. We are told that we must stop eating butter, or our arteries will be clogged. We are told not to eat cholesterol, or we will die from heart disease. We are told not to eat animal fats, or we will die from diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or all of the above. All of these lies are not true. Yet all of these lies are believed by most of the American people.
Ironically enough, the targeted “scientific study” has become the most effective way to spread fear. After all, everyone trusts science. But science has little to do with many such studies, which almost inevitably are full of holes and prove nothing.
Red meat, the oldest and most natural food of humankind, is often a target of these studies. The powers that be want to reduce or end the eating of red meat by the general population, something that ruling classes have tried to do since grains became plentiful. So, several times a year, almost every year, studies come out claiming that eating red meat will do something terrible to us. Usually they try to scare us with heart disease, or cancer, or diabetes, or all three. This year, the latest “meat is doom” study is trying to scare us with DEATH. We are told that we have a much higher chance of dying from all causes if we eat even a small amount of red meat. Of course this study makes no distinction between grassfed meat and factory meat. The study has already been debunked by Denise Minger, among others in this article: Will Eating Red Meat Kill You?
But here is the point—we have nothing to fear from real food. We have nothing to fear from grassfed meat, humankind’s oldest food. The foods of our ancestors, without chemicals or modern tampering, prepared in traditional ways, are good for us. It is that simple.
Our ancestors did not fear their food. On the contrary, they ENJOYED it. The only problem with food was getting enough of it. When real food was available, our ancestors prepared it in a myriad of delicious ways and joyfully ate their fill, relishing the taste, texture and satisfaction good food provides. Every great event was celebrated with food, with special foods served to celebrate special events. Throughout most of the world, the most special food was some form of red meat, served without fear or guilt, and enjoyed thoroughly.
Dr. Weston A. Price studied a number of peoples eating the diet of their ancestors. Though many of these people were considered “primitive,” none of them had cancer, or heart disease, or diabetes, or tooth decay, or any of the many diseases that plague modern humans. All of these peoples ate red meat. Some of them ate huge amounts of red meat, every day. One of them (the native people of the interior of Northern Canada) ate nothing but red meat, along with the fat and organs of the animal. They were healthy and vital in a way that few modern people are.
None of them feared their food, which was natural and real. Neither should we.
Today, I will be interviewed on Sean Croxton’s fantastic show, Underground Wellness.
This will be a live interview, with questions from listeners. The show will begin at 5:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Savings Time. Here is the link that will get you to the show:
Sean Croxton is one of the best friends the real food movement ever had. Not only does he constantly raise awareness and educate people about real food on his show and other activities, but he has created the best slogan I have ever heard, which contains one of the most important truths anyone can know — JERF — Just Eat Real Food. If you do nothing else, to change your eating but that—just eat real food—you will almost certainly receive great benefits to your health, your energy, your mind, your immune system, your senses, your longevity, your joy of life, and so many other areas. Because, ultimately, we are what we eat. And our bodies need high quality real food to function well, not the factory junk that is destroying the health of the American people. Real food saved my life and enabled the natural functions of my body to fully restore my health. I found grassfed beef to be the final piece of the puzzle in restoring my health. My struggles in learning how to cook it lead to the writing of Tender Grassfed Meat, Tender Grassfed Barbecue, and this blog. So you can see why I am so passionate about this whole food issue, and want everyone to benefit from the blessings of real food.
But to get back to Sean, he not only gets the truth out there on his show, but he always manages to make it fun and entertaining. I am very happy and deeply honored to be on the show this afternoon. You are all invited to listen!
The interview was a lot of fun and we got to discuss the newest Harvard “meat is doom” study along with how wonderful grassfed meat is. Here is a link to the recorded interview:
The United Kingdom in the nineteenth century was perhaps the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. One of the ways in which the British people of the time enjoyed that wealth was to eat plenty of meat, often grassfed beef. Beef was relatively affordable and plentiful in England at that time, as opposed to the rest of Europe, where meat, especially beef, was a very rare treat.
Yet even the English middle and working classes had to watch their money, and they came up with a way to make beef go further.
They invented the tradition of the Sunday Roast. A large roast of beef would be roasted on Sunday, and would be used as the basis of meals for most of the rest of the week.
These meals would include cold-sliced meat, hash, curries, minced beef, broth, and meat pies, all from the same roast.
Contrary to popular belief, leftover beef can be wonderful when twice or even thrice cooked, with a very deep and wonderful flavor. A bigger roast will often taste better than a smaller roast, but as there are three people in our immediate family, we did not make large roasts unless we had company.
I decided to try reviving the tradition, but with a tastier selection of secondary dishes. This would also give me the excuse to make a large roast.
The results were delicious, and surprisingly frugal.
We made a large center cut shoulder roast, about five and a half pounds. This cut is also known as cross rib in the western United States. The roast was suitably marinated, and roasted, until fairly rare in the middle. The hot, juicy meat was wonderful, and satisfying, with a more developed flavor that comes from cooking a bigger piece of meat. It was so satisfying that we had most of the roast left over.
I cut a large, single piece of the leftover roast and cooked it as a pot roast. The twice-cooked meat was so tender, with a wonderful deep flavor. It was fork tender, and no one would have thought it came from leftovers. It was very satisfying, and we had a fair amount of leftover pot roast and gravy.
I took more of the leftover roast, the part that was made very rare, and sliced it into thin pieces for stir-frying. They were marinated with an oriental style marinade, and stir-fried with delicious organic peppers, shallots, and onions from our favorite vegetable farm. You can see a photo of this wonderful meal at the top of this article. It tasted even better than it looks, and no one would have imagined it was made from leftovers.
I took some more of the leftover roast, cut it into small chunks, and made it into a stew with plenty of vegetables and Hungarian spices. It came out great, so tender and flavorful. Not like leftovers at all.
I took the leftover pot roast, sliced it thin, and reheated it gently in the leftover gravy, enhanced with a sautéed onion and some more beef broth. Many traditional European recipes call for cooking a pot roast one day, and reheating it later. This is done so the flavor can develop in the refrigerator, and I must say that this reheated pot roast was over-the-top delicious, with a more complex and beefier flavor than the original roast. These slices were actually thrice cooked—first as a roast beef, second as a pot roast, and third as reheated pot roast slices.
At this point, there was only about a third of a pound of scraps, including some sinew, left from the various meals. They went into the freezer to become part of a future homemade broth.
By following the tradition of re-cooking the leftovers of a large roast, we had five wonderful meals, and some meat for soup. A complete success, moderate in cost, and absolutely delicious.
Tender Grassfed Meat contains a number of recipes for roasts, pot roasts, and stir fries. It is simple to modify one of the beef roast recipes for a larger roast, simply continue cooking at the lowest temperature in the recipe, until done to your taste. The pot roasts can be made from a large chunk of leftover roast. The stir-fries can be made from leftover rare or medium rare roast beef. The cooking instructions are the same, although a pot roast made from leftover beef may be ready sooner. Remember, when the fork goes in easy, the pot roast is ready.
There is a reason why something becomes a cooking tradition–it works!