Every year, I follow an old American custom. When Thanksgiving comes around, I think about what I am thankful for.
The list is very long, but there are some things that really stand out. This year, I am particularly grateful for grassfed meat and grassfed fat. These wonderful traditional foods are so good for our health, and so delicious. There was a time when I could not get them. And there was a time that I did not know how to cook them.
That has changed, and I am thankful for that.
I Am Thankful for the Good Farmers Who Raise Real Grassfed Meat
Few people realize that it takes much more skill, knowledge, trouble, time, and effort to create grassfed meat. It is much easier, cheaper, and faster to raise a factory cow, and ship it off to the feedlot to be turned into factory meat.
Raising a grassfed cow is something different. It takes a knowledge of what breeds will fatten on grass. It takes an understanding of the magic of soil and pastures, and how to graze and when to graze, and when to rest the soil. It takes knowledge of the seasons and weather patterns, of the needs of the cattle, of the unique peculiarities of the land used for grazing, and the plants on that land. It takes an ability to adjust to changing conditions, which can change the whole dynamic. It requires creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, and decisive action. It is as much an art as it is a science, and the parameters are always changing.
I have talked with some true experts on raising great grassfed cattle. Ranchers like Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards. John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats. Lee Mora of Humboldt Grassfed Beef. Ed Wimble of Homestead Natural Foods, and others. I am amazed by the great intelligence, know how, practicality, determination, and creativity of all of these ranchers. Every day is a challenge, and they always manage to meet it, raising some of the most wonderful food in the world. They know the magic of pasture, the ways of their cattle, the impact of the weather, and a thousand other things that are vital for raising great grassfed beef. They know how to improve their land by managing the grazing of their herds, and how to make the soil richer and better.
The meat they raise is healthy and delicious, being some of the finest food we could ever hope to put in our bodies. I can only hope that they will pass on their special knowledge, and that it will not be lost. We have a desperate need for good grassfed meat in a world where inferior factory meat dominates the market.
I am very grateful for the meat they raise, and for the fact that I am able to get it and feed it to my family and myself.
I Am Grateful for the Cooking Knowledge of Our Ancestors
It is not enough to be able to buy grassfed meat. You also have to know how to cook it. I learned this the hard way, and I mean that literally. You would be able to break windows with some of the first grassfed meat I ruined.
The first grassfed meat I cooked was good meat, and I ruined it. It was tough and tasteless. Everything I knew about cooking and marinating factory meat failed, when I tried to apply it to grassfed meat. After many failures that resulted in tough, bad tasting meat, I gave up.
But I still wanted, I still needed the many health benefits of grassfed meat. My body needed to rebuild after many years of illness, and factory meat just was not doing the job. It occurred to me that our ancestors must have known how to cook it. And they must have enjoyed it, because the histories and novels and legends were full of accounts of wonderful feasts of meat. And that meat was grassfed, through most of history, everywhere in the world. It was only in modern times that factory meat became available.
An old memory came to me. My Dad grew up on the prairies of Canada. When he was ten, he and his younger brother were put on the train, and given money to buy food in the dining car. They would be going a long way, to stay with relatives. My Dad and his brother had heard stories of the wonderful steaks in the dining cars of the railroad, which were very expensive. They decided to blow most of their food money for the trip on a steak dinner. That steak was so wonderful that my Dad never forgot it. He remembered it eighty years later, when he was dying, and that memory brought one of his last smiles. I realized that this magnificent steak had to have been grassfed.
This inspired me to read hundreds of old cookbooks, novels, and histories. While most of the recipes assumed that the reader already knew how to cook, and gave very vague instructions, certain themes were repeated over and over. I began to experiment with them, and the time came when I learned how to cook grassfed meat, and make it tender and delicious every time. I focused on easy methods, as I did not have the time or interest for the more elaborate ones. I also learned many other things about ancestral cooking, especially about how to combine different foods to create a very nourishing meal. This knowledge became the foundation for my cookbooks, Tender Grassfed Meat, and Tender Grassfed Barbecue, and the basis of so many wonderful meals.
I am thankful for the cooking knowledge of our ancestors, and how it enabled me to learn how to enjoy the benefits and awesome taste of grassfed meat.
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