Yesterday, at the International Restaurant & Food Service Show, I had a chance to meet and talk with the third generation California Cattlemen cuties of Brandt beef. These guys are seriously passionate about their natural meat. And it shows in the quality of their herd’s muscle. I had a few slices of a strip steak and could have gobbled the whole delectable thing!
Mark Brandt was kind enough to describe the difference between organic and natural as it pertains to their product.
To be labeled organic would involve the animals eating food/feed from soil/land that has been organic for two years –no pesticides etc for two years.
Natural means Brandt’s animals “…are fed a vegetarian corn-based diet for more than 300 days without the use of antibiotics or growth promoting hormones.” [Brandtbeef.com]
He also explained a process whereby they use owls [!] as natural predators for pests. By flooding the soil, bugs rise to the surface wherein the owls feed: bugs be gone. And they use the owl droppings as fertilizer. Cycle of life stuff.
So why did they start focusing on this truly natural process? Another Brandt Junior told me sotto voce that their dad developed nerve damage after years of pouring a highly toxic de-wormer on the cattle. This was the lightning bolt: they immediately ceased using that product and transformed their practices.
You will be seeing and hearing a lot more about this niche meat producer as their rib eye was just was pronounced Best Newfangled Beef [sic] in New York Magazine. This means I really must make a trip to Chef Michael Lomonaco’s new spot Porter House. Oy, I can hear my wallet groaning already.
[They are also the meat behind Josie's , Better Burger , Dean & Deluca , and the revamped Craftsteak.]