Quarter Circle Seven, Part Three

While Frank and I rode back to the house, we talked politics and food and the price of beef.  I like Frank’s politics a LOT, but I won’t publish his views; that’s up to Frank.  I will tell you what he told me about the decision people make to pay more for natural, grass fed beef.  Frank said he has found that it takes some stimulus like a book or movie to engage most people, get them thinking about where their food comes from.  (That was true for me.  Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the reason this blog exists.)  That book or movie is the catalyst that drives a person to learn more about food, to become thoughtful about the origin, the chemicals, the processing, as well as their own their health.  Frank told me that he talks with people about this quite often; his exerience has been that women tend to be more concerned with animal comfort, men tend to worry more about additives and chemicals.  That statement was interesting to me; I care about both equally, but the chemicals and growth hormones are what got my attention a couple of years ago.  (Then, the more I read and learned about food processing, the more I began to feel manipulated and decieved, and that just pissed me off to no end.)  Frank and I talked about the diabetes epidemic in this country, how many 175 pound sixth graders you see these days.  How young girls begin menstruating at 8 or 9 years old; the growth hormones in milk are the culprit.  Frank told me one of his customers spoke with him about his concerns for his daughters and what he was feeding them.  People want their kids to be healthy, want them to drink milk, but they don’t really know what is in it.  Same with meat and vegetables.  Frank said once people began to educate themselves, they then make the decision to pay more for their food.  It does cost more to buy pesticide and hormone free, non-GMO food; but more folks think it is worth it every day.  We talked about this growing movement and sustainability.  And pricing.

Frank told me that beef sold in truckload lots goes for about $1.80 per pound, hanging weight.  That’s before the freight and handling to get it to your neighborhood grocery store.   Frank estimates that at about .25 per pound, which makes it $2.05 per pound to your door.  Then you have your farmers who sell locally, but use growth hormones and antibiotics regularly.  Their beef may go for $2.29 per pound, or.49 more.  Then you have the grass fed beef like Q7, which will run $2.79 per pound, another .50 above $2.29.   Frank explained that gap to local grassfed of 74 cents translates to 42 cents per third pound burger. I think it is well worth it.  The folks who have made the decision to eat more heathfully are willing to pay more for grass fed beef and local farm products. 

The “factory” cattle are grain fed, with growth hormoes and antibiotics use to rush them to slaughter weight.  These are Frank’s words: “The intensive grain fed “fattening” period probably averages 180 days. There may be a period after pastures and before the feedlot where cattle are confined and “eased” into an all grain diet. That period is referred to as backgrounding and probably varies a great deal by region.  By the way Sustainable Table.Org says that period requires 30 energy calories to get 1 calorie of food !”   Q7 beef cattle live twice that long in the great outdoors, enjoying sun and rain and breezes on their backs.  They get no chemicals.  They do get veterinary care, but they aren’t fed chemicals at all.  And they get three years life in fresh air.

When we got back to the ranch office in Marengo, we turned Herbie and Gus out into a large pasture.  Gus dropped to the ground and had a nice dirt bath.  Both began the business of grazing.  We walked across the pasture to a fence that ran along a creek.  On the other side of the fence, Frank pointed out his daughter’s chickens in their movable cages and said she had begun to raise chickens last year.  We walked back to the barn office, passing several paddocks with a horse or two in them.  At the office, Frank showed me a framed article about Jack Kirby, the cowboy who sparked Frank’s interest in the cattle business.  (The article was great, and there is a link to it at the bottom of this page if you would like to read more.)  While I read, Frank went to a freezer and pulled out a nice variety pack of grass fed beef for me to take home and try.  There were two premium (Angus) and two select (Corriente) New York strips, eight burgers, and a sirloin tip roast.  Try them, we did!

A couple of nights after my visit to Q7 Ranch, my husband John and I tried two steaks.  John had the Premium Angus New York Strip, and I had the Select Corriente.  As it turned out we each liked our pick best…  the Corriente was a little gamier and I loved it!  I marinated the two steaks in olive oil, white truffle oil, and a little garlic for a few hours.  John cooked them low and slow on the grill (low and slow is the way to go, since this beef is so lean) and we let the meet rest for 30 minutes before we ate.  (Frank recommends letting the meat rest for 45 minutes, but  I was really hungry that day and I could not wait one more minute.)  It was excellent with our bottle of Chateau St. Michele Indian Wells Merlot.  The steaks were tender.  The texture of grass fed beef is different than your grocery store selection.  It is more dense, a little chewier (in a good way) and not tough.  The flavor is “deeper” somehow.  I am a long time filet mignon snob – the Q7 beef has changed my habit.  I don’t think there is any turning back to grocery store meat. 

The following week, I thawed the sirloin tip roast.  I marinated it for a full day in olive oil, red wine, and cracked black pepper.  That night I seared the roast in olive oil in a pan on the stove.  I let it rest for a hour.  While the roast took a nap, I made a gravy from the marinade.  (I do save the blood from meat and add it to sauces and gravies.  It’s great for flavor.)  Anyway, for this meal, I sauteed a little diced onion and sliced garlic in butter, then added it to the pan I had used to sear the beef.  I stirred in a very fine cake flour, another splash of vino, and added some beef stock and let it simmer until it thickened.  I added baby portobello mushrooms at the halfway point.  At the end of an hour, I cooked egg noodles and finished the gravy by adding about a cup of Greek yogurt to make it more of a stroganoff.  I put the beef back in the gravy just long enough to heat it up, then sliced it thin and served it over the egg noodles.  It was gooooood eating!

Our third meal with Q7 beef consisted of our last two steaks, one Premium, one Select.  I claimed the Select for myself!  Once again, I marinated these two steaks in olive oil, truffle oil, a splash of red wine…  This time I cooked the marinade on the stove while John grilled the steaks.  I let the steaks rest 45 minutes this time.  I think letting the meat rest longer is a good thing, but it sure is hard to wait!   We’ll try the burgers next.  I assume they will be excellent, too.

Take a few minutes to check out the Q7 web site and their Facebook page.  It’s a pretty drive out to Marengo…  swing by and treat yourself to some good food.  Tell them Mary the Mental Farmer sent you. 

And here is the link to the Jack Kirby article, called “Gatekeeper to a Grand Tradition, written by Dan Abernathy.  http://books.google.com/books?id=8uoCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA45&dq=gatekeeper+to+a+grand+tradition,+dan+abernathy&hl=en&ei=NDKbTqnaGLD4sQLh853FBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=twopage&q=gatekeeper%20to%20a%20grand%20tradition%2C%20dan%20abernathy&f=true


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2 Comments on “Quarter Circle Seven, Part Three”

  1. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    This is fantastic…..and I’m crazy hungry for beef now!
    I was committed before but felt the resolve go steely
    as I read your wonderful post.
    Just beautiful.
    Keep stirring the passion, friend.
    (you’re really, really good at this!)



  2. artsouth Says:

    Oh my, I so would love to be a guest at your house for dinner.



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