Where's The Beef?

So, Ms. Bay posted this comment on the Brandt beef posting earlier this week:

"I like your alliteration! Unfortunately neither natural nor organic mean a darn thing about the quality of life the animals have or the environmental impact of their raising. For the healthiest and least destructive (to the animals and environment) meat you need to look for grass-fed and free range. Most of the companies that say their meat is "natural" keep their animals locked up in facilities that are so awful it almost makes me want to go vegan sometimes. This is why I am eating less meat these days. I'll save my money to eat the expensive stuff that's truly ethical and not destroying the earth even if it means I need to eat veggie 75% of the time. Don't even get me started on the double trouble of being an ethical shopper and kosher! Vegetarianism looks more and more appealing.

But oh, that beef stew I had for lunch... so good!"

Good point. So I contacted the Brandt beef folks to see what they had to say as it's a concern for many readers and eaters of meat [me included]. Here's their reply:

"As farmers, the Brandt family believes they are stewards of the land, and as such are responsible for how they treat the earth and their animals to benefit future generations. Brandt Beef prides itself on using the best and most humane techniques of animal husbandry known today, which includes raising their animals in a stress-free and comfortable environment. Looking for key words on labels does not guarantee that the producer follows humane animal husbandry practices -- you really have to get to know the producer you’re buying from. Brandt Beef regularly invites chefs, distributors and retailers to visit its operation to see its practices first hand. Additionally, Brandt Beef is actively encouraging chefs to use the whole animal, not just select cuts, which further minimize waste and environmental impact."

Ms. Bay, maybe you and I should take a trip to LA and check it out!


ByTheBay said…
Hi there - Thanks for the response. I think it is actually really advisable to visit the place your food is coming from. And it does speak highly when a company is open to having their customers and distributors visit. If you haven't already read it, though, I would recommend checking out "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. He brings up some important points about how to shop for meat and how to know whether the meat you are eating is truly environmentally sustainable and ethical. Unfortunately companies themselves are rarely the best source to find out how their animals are treated, even when they do have some degree of transparency - Marketing professionals are brilliant, even the ones who work for small family-owned businesses.

"Grass fed" is not just a key word. It's healthier and more sustainable. Check out Pollan's book and also these links:

Anonymous said…
Fist of all, you are what you eat. If you feed fish meal to chickens, (as they once did), they taste like fish! Corn, alfalfa and molassas tastes great, as I have eaten it on my visit to Brandt, and makes the beef taste amazing. Grass-fed beef is the cheapest way to feed cattle...but produces a lousey flavor in beef. Also, most grass-fed cattle are not grazed...they are trough fed like corn. Unless they claim "free range" as well, it is just a cost-saving marketing gimmick.

I read Pollan's book and for someone who is supposed to be an expert, he should'nt call beef cattle "cows", since cows are only female, have calved, and are not raised for beef, but rather milk.
Cattle are not pets...they are a food supply that are only produced and harvested for human consumption. Humane handling is something that Brandt Beef has championed. The feed lot is the size of a small town, shaded, and cattle are spritzed to keep cool and reduce dust. They are kept in the same groups...with other "familiar" cattle throughout their stay. All of this on the advise of Dr. Temple Grandon, the foremost expert on Humane animal handling, (at a great expense to Brandt, I might add). But the best benefit from the Humane handling is that if you minimize stress, you reduce the release of adrenaline in the animal's body, which causes the meat to eat tough.

There are at least two sides to every story, and all too often, I see people latch on to a cause without doing their own homework.
We all have alot to learn by listening to each others' concerns...learn and merchandize responsibly from and for each other.

Brandt Beef's largest customer and most fervent advocate,

Bruce Rodman
Cambridge Packing Company
Boston, MA

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