In search of grass-fed, grass-finished beef for clean eating
The Fourth of July was just a week ago. Since 75 percent of American families own a grill, you probably headed outside to use yours. If you did, more than likely you grilled hot dogs and hamburgers; numbers one and two in the Fourth of July grilling popularity contest.
Since my nickname is BurgerBoy you know which is my grilling favorite.
From where did my ground beef come? Here's my story.
At one time, I lived a half-block away from Chicago's Gepperth's Meat Market (gepperths.com). Are they any good? They've been there for 102 years. Like Gepperth's, we're fortunate that there are still some meat markets here.
As the years have rolled by, butcher shops have slowly and sadly disappeared all over the country.
Since I believe it's better for me and the planet, I only consume grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef (organic if I can find it) and there are good reasons: concentrated animal feeding operations.
What are CAFO's? All beef once weaned, eat grass since that's what they were meant to eat; they're grass-eating ruminants. Ruminants have never naturally been corn or soybean consumers. Never.
Since a portion of the feed fed to beef cattle at CAFO's is grain-based (usually GMO corn and GMO soybeans); that's neither good for beef cattle, nor for me. As author Michael Pollen wrote: "You are what what you eat eats." It's my personal choice not to eat GMO anything, which takes CAFO processed meats and poultry off my table.
Yes, they must freeze and ship their beef. Yes, they use Styrofoam coolers that are hard to recycle -- I donate mine). But, that seems to be a small price for the quality of the beef that comes from sustainable farms; especially for meat that's never been near a CAFO.
Just three weeks ago, I discovered an interesting spin on sourcing non-CAFO beef coming from smaller, independent farms using sustainable practices: Crowd Cow (crowdcow.com). It's like crowdsource funding for beef buying.
Recently, I bought 12 pounds of dry-aged, grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef through crowdcow.com and found it to be excellent.
Instead of frozen square bricks, I got what looked like ground beef that just came out of the grinder, vacuum-packed in oddly shaped packages and frozen. Crowd cow uses a lot of dry ice (especially now) to make sure my beef got into my freezer as frozen as it was when it left Crowd Cow.
Now, I need your help, since I can't run around to butcher shops in the five counties covered by the Daily Herald asking questions like: "Is this grass-fed and grass-finished beef?" I need you to.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know where you've found grass-fed, grass-finished beef, or pasture-raised, free-range chicken or pastured pork. I'll happily share what you share in a future column.
Illinois corn is almost ready to shuck, and one thing I like to make from that is pickled corn. You could use frozen corn, but there's nothing like the bright, fresh-flavor from locally-raised sweet corn. Plus, this is a great way to keep enjoying that corn well past corn season.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at email@example.com.