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Best ranch to buy 1/2 grass feed cow from in Northern California?

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I'm about to take the leap and switch to all grass-feed cow.
There are several places where we can get this done at:

Marin Sun
Freestone
Stemplecreek
+ others

Its a fairly sizable investment, so I want to do as much research as possible. I just finished reading 'Good Meat' and am a pretty decent cook. I have not been able to really do a comparative taste test, but would love to hear any opinions out there about your experiences.

Thanks a bunch - John

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  1. I've gotten grassfed beef from Magruder Ranch (Potter Valley) through my meat club and the quality is excellent. Half a cow is a huge commitment if you haven't done it before or tasted the meat, so you might want to ease into it via a meat CSA. When I buy a share (probably 1/6 or 1/8 a cow) it's about 40 lbs. Grassfed whole animal will require you to change your cooking methods/habits too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rubadubgdub

      Magruder's great. I've bought their beef at Cafe Rouge.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        hey Robert - i've had delicious steak fritz at cafe rouge periodically, and it is really good.
        I am gearing up for a freezer and already have an extra fridge in the garage set at a higher temp that i use to dry-age my meats. So far, i have bought meat already prepped, but am getting ready for the next step after reading 'Good meat' and 'Mission Chinese Food' - particularly on the section of how to break down a rib roast.

        1. re: johnaco

          Cafe Rouge uses several beef suppliers, but Magruder is one of them, so you could try before you buy a half cow.

      2. re: rubadubgdub

        Thanks rubadubgdub!
        Yes, i understand 1/2cow is HUGE. My idea was to split it with another family. As i understand, getting 1/2 cow gives me more options o the cut-sheet. I am a big fan of special cuts; oxtail, things that require long braising, offal cuts.
        Interesting - i went to Whole Foods today to get some grass fed meat - and noticed that the short ribs were the same price as standard industrial - 5.99 lbs. So I went for it and made it for dinner.I have to admit, it was pretty fantastic, and a good deal, in comparison to rib-eye at 22 lbs (it did look beautiful). I'll look up Magruder and check out their prices and options.
        I have a 'watch' set up of used freezers on craigslist...

      3. the Marin Sun retail meat shop has a nice variety of cuts usually available, so you can see and taste for yourself before making a decision. everything we've had from there has been excellent, with a nice depth of flavour.