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Sustainable Meat?

p
paprkutr Aug 26, 2010 12:11 PM

A friend's granddaughter is looking for meat that is not fed unhealthy things(not organic), doesn't eat meat etc. They threw out the word sustainable, and I would like to know if anyone knows about it in the area, and if so where can you buy it? TIA

  1. f
    Fru Aug 26, 2010 12:37 PM

    My understanding of sustainable only applies to produce meaning that no unnecessary pesticides are used or chemical fertilizers. For meat, you really have to read between the lines. If the product says it is from "pastured" animals, that means they have been raised on grass. Even if the label says "free range", that doesn't really tell you what the animal ate as their free range could be a patch of dirt and then they go to the feed lot and eat corn/grain. I can tell you that I purchase pasture/grass fed beef at the Saturday Farmer's Market in Pasadena. The Ranch name is Dey Dey's Best Beef out of Santa Barbara. You can find some pasture raised meat products at Whole Foods. The biggest argument you will hear is that there is nothing wrong with cows being raised on corn. Cows in particular are ruminants and are meant to eat grass. The majority of beef raised today is started on grass and finished on corn for up to 160 days. Cows aren't meant to eat a steady diet of grain. Therefor, most of these cows have antibiotics added to their grain as well as injected as a prophylactic. It is illegal to put offal/meat products in feed now but that doesn't prevent companies getting around it by adding beef fat or bone to some feeds still.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fru
      j
      Jack Flash Aug 27, 2010 10:54 PM

      Dey Dey's is really good. It isn't cheap, so I have to be judicious with my purchases, but it tastes really good, and I like knowing that I'm supporting a relatively local entrepreneur who cares about his product, and wants to put out the best that he can. I'm sold on their grass fed beef. And, they have good pasture-raised chickens as well (they bring them out around the pasture with the cows; are full-beaked; etc.)

      http://californialowlines.com/OurBeef...

    2. a
      AAQjr Aug 26, 2010 01:11 PM

      It is not legal to feed cattle bone meal anymore. So that will apply to all meat. I would look for grass feed beef as grass is a healthy diet for cows. AFA sustainable the more local something is the less energy it takes to get to the table FWIW.

      1. Servorg Aug 26, 2010 01:47 PM

        Check out http://www.lindnerbison.com./

        1. w
          WORX4FUDE Aug 26, 2010 05:24 PM

          Sustainable agro and produce are "harmonious" with nature and blah-blah-blah. I'd ask around at Harvey Guss and maybe Vicente, where actual pro butchers can give you the low down. They may not be ranchers, but they'll probably be familiar with where to find such a thing, if "sustainable" meats really exist.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WORX4FUDE
            s
            stuffed Aug 26, 2010 07:40 PM

            You may be interested in Kelley Beef http://www.rainbowranchfarms.com/Kell...

          2. j
            JudiAU Aug 27, 2010 06:28 AM

            Sustainable is a broad term that can mean a lot of things. The baseline is that the animals are not fed subtheraputic hormones or antibiotics. Basically, you don't give them drugs unless they are sick. Everything at Whole foods meets this category. An additional level is that the food be whole grains / vegetarian (no byproducts) or that feed is certified organic (no pesticides and other growing practices). Several grocery stories in addition to WF carry organic meats including Gelsons. Some people feel strongly about how the meat is processed at slaughter and want small scale processing and butchery. A few higher end brands like Niman Ranch have smaller scale less stressful to the animal slaughter with monitored plants. Some people want grass fed which makes for much healthier meat. Whole Foods and Mccalls have grass fed. Many farmers markets do it.

            9 Replies
            1. re: JudiAU
              Servorg Aug 27, 2010 06:57 AM

              "Some people want grass fed which makes for much healthier meat. Whole Foods and Mccalls have grass fed. Many farmers markets do it."

              It was my understanding that many places that feature "grass fed" beef also allow the animals to be "grain finished." That means that the last so many weeks of life the cattle get grain fed. Do the Mccalls or WF animals get grass all the way through to slaughter do you know?

              1. re: Servorg
                f
                Fru Aug 27, 2010 07:21 AM

                This is why the term "pasture" is important in the description. Producers are telling consumers what they want to hear by saying "grass fed". It doesn't necessarily mean that they are free to graze. It could just mean that they are fed grass/hay in a feed lot and doesn't exclude grain from their diet. The wording can be very vague. I don't limit myself to pastured meat but reading The Omnivore's Dilemma has really enlightened me to different ranching practices.

                1. re: Fru
                  a
                  AAQjr Aug 27, 2010 08:24 AM

                  Keep in mind that even the most well intentioned Farmer in most parts of this country cant pasture cattle more than 8 months a year and have to deal with winter weather by putting them in barns and feeding them hay.

                  I would ask the individual WF, because they can have different sources. When you see the grass fed beef at WF from New Zealand, that is all grass fed. They have plenty of open land and no corn subsidies.

                  1. re: AAQjr
                    Servorg Aug 27, 2010 08:28 AM

                    "...in most parts of this country cant pasture cattle more than 8 months a year and have to deal with winter weather by putting them in barns and feeding them hay. "

                    As opposed to that tropical paradise of New Zealand where in June, July and August it's like Hawaii all the time?

                    1. re: Servorg
                      a
                      AAQjr Aug 27, 2010 12:20 PM

                      uhm, no. and hay is a grass. I'm not saying its bad. Just unrealistic to expect cattle to be pastured 12 months a year. Abo the NZ.. I'm not saying its holier or something just that it's not part of there system to feed cattle corn. So it is reliably Grass Fed.

                    2. re: AAQjr
                      Akitist Aug 27, 2010 09:01 AM

                      I'd think that the jet fuel involved in transporting that beef here from NZ would be at odds with the overall theme of sustainability. Expenditure of fossil fuel and hydrocarbon exhaust. Not exactly locavore-ism.

                      1. re: Akitist
                        a
                        AAQjr Aug 27, 2010 12:26 PM

                        I agree. Just comes down to whether it is more important for the cattle to be grass fed or local. And before anyone says otherwise. I do realize that it's not the only choice, just a choice.

                        I have no dog in this fight.

                      2. re: AAQjr
                        j
                        jadekarrde Aug 27, 2010 11:03 PM

                        fwiw, I don't consider any international meat to be sustainable. In my mind at least sustainable includes the caveat that it needs to be reasonably local (within 180 miles or so).

                        1. re: AAQjr
                          f
                          Fru Aug 28, 2010 02:27 AM

                          "Keep in mind that even the most well intentioned Farmer in most parts of this country cant pasture cattle more than 8 months a year and have to deal with winter weather by putting them in barns and feeding them hay."

                          Servorg, I have no issue with giving pasture raised cattle hay during winter months. As you said, it would be a necessity. I'm only speaking about the way meat is marketed. If the label does not say pasture raised, then it is possible/probable that their diet is supplemented with grain. Cows being ruminants are not meant to eat corn. That is the major issue besides the humane treatment of animals. Also, from what I have read, there is greater nutritional value (for human consumption) of beef raised on grass/hay than on corn. Again, I'm not a purist, just interested in the subject.

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