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Posts from the ‘Local Meat’ Category

Story of a Steak

Recently, we came across this series put out by the Angust TV called Story of a Steak. It takes you on a visual tour of how your steak makes it from the field to your plate. It begins with a ranch in Wyoming, takes you through a feed yard in Kansas, and finally ends up at the meat lab. This is a great line up of episodes as it really gives you an inside look into the people behind the cattle production. Often times, we all think that our beef in the grocery stores came out of some factory where there is no human interaction. The cows went in as calves, were pumped with feed and additives, and come out the other side in boxes.

But that simply isn’t the case, this series reminds us that there are people behind that steak on your plate, there are family farms, ranches, and feed yards. There is human interaction between all three and one sector of cattle production relies on the other. It takes all three working together in order to create that quality choice beef that ends up nourishing your family as well as theirs. This series shows that the cattle industry is always looking to do better, to improve, as well as take consumer concerns into consideration.

Story of a Steak Segment 1: Gathering, Weaning, and Shipping

Story of a Steak Segment 2: Shipping Cattle

Story of a Steak Segment 3: Introduction to Feed Yard

Story of a Steak Segment 4: Importance of Animal Health

Story of Steak Segment 5: Halfway Point, Feed Yard and Rancher Meet Up

Story of Steak Segment 6: Addressing Consumer Concerns and Taking a Critical Look at Cattle Industry

Story of a Steak Segment 7: Meats Lab and Final Evaluation

The cattle industry doesn’t just thrive in the Midwest. Fourth, fifth, and even sixth generation ranchers can be found all across Northern California and cattle can be seen grazing all over the grassy hills in Butte, Tehama, and Glenn counties. This production is happening right here in our backyards. Cattle rancher, Holly Foster, was featured on Angus TV in a segment called I Am Angus. We love that Angus TV is working towards putting a face behind the people who are raising and growing our food. If you’ve driven out to Butte College, you’ve seen the cattle of the Foster Ranch.

Angus TV is loaded with all sorts of information on how beef is raised as well as meat handling tips. I hope you took the time to watch this series from the Angus TV along with their channel over at Youtube: Angus TV.

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What We Want You to Know About the Meat Industry

As a business who’s been in the meat industry and seen many different sides of the industry, we’d like consumers to know that you can find good meat no matter where you go. Don’t feel like you’ve got to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get the best meat out there just because your neighbors do, or your friends do. Buying meat doesn’t have to be keeping up with the Jones. Good meat doesn’t have to be beef that was fed rice wine or even massaged their entire life. Feed and how an animal is raised can change taste, texture, and marbling (intramuscular fat), but it doesn’t change the fact that all are striving for quality. And quality can be found even at your big box store. Read more

Reporter Goes Undercover as USDA Meat Inspector

Last week, I came across this story put out by Harper Magazine by a reporter (Ted Conover) who was tasked with becoming a USDA inspector for the meat processing company, Cargill in small town rural Nebraska. Upon reading it, I came out with mixed feelings. My first feelings were that overall, it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I assumed it would be that classic “bashing large agribusiness”  or “uncovering the horrors of the modern slaughterhouse” but instead Conover re-enforces the necessity USDA meat inspectors play to our meat system today. Read more

Finding Out Where Your Meat Comes From…

Today now more than ever customers and consumers are looking to find out WHERE their food comes from. But not just in a general sense, they want to know details. Locations, companies, who is handling their food and what they are doing. With a push towards more and more labeling of origin, I wonder how many people know there is already a system in place that allows you to find the origins of your federally inspected meat…?

2013-04-29_001It’s called an establishment number and any meat under federal inspection that is labeled for resale will bear this seal. Meat, Poultry, and Eggs are required by law to contain this seal. This system has it’s origins in the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906. What this system allows is not only for customers and consumers to look up who is producing their food, but also allows USDA to track back the source of a particular item in the event of a recall. By knowing this establishment number, they can pin point where a product came from and if possible what other products may need to be recalled. But this system is not just for finished products, carcasses are also stamped with establishment numbers. So when we order in carcass animals to either cut up or receive animals that have been slaughtered under federal inspection by another business, all of the carcasses have been stamped with this seal as well. It looks something  like the image to the left.

2013-04-29_002Even our products that we have made on the premises, such as smoked sausages, jerky, tri-tips, etc. are required to contain a seal with our establishment number on the package. Instead of saying U.S. Inspected and Passed by the Dept. of Ag, our seal says California Inspected and Passed by the Department of Agriculture because we are under state inspection, not federal inspection. If you are curious about the difference between the two, you can find out more in this  post talking about local meat.

So how do you find these establishment numbers and information…? Well you take a visit to the USDA website. Here they have a database of establishment numbers by either numeral order or alphabetically by establishment name. For example, let’s say we want to find out where one of the products featured above comes from. All we have to do is look them up in the database. The beef shown on the left came from establishment 245L which the database tells us is Tyson Fresh Meats out of Lexington, NE.

Photo Apr 29, 10 15 02 AMBut this system really isn’t feasible while you are standing in the grocery store aisle trying to make decisions on what to buy. But thanks to a student at Chicago’s DePaul University, he has allowed this information to go mobile. He has designed a mobile app for the iphone which allows anyone to ” to search the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) product establishment number. The new app offers instant access to a product’s manufacturer and provides further information about that company. In addition to identifying the company, the app offers its address, telephone number and web address.”

“The app was designed to be customized for every individual. The Establishment Number Finder App allows users to save any establishment number previously searched, as well as an option to quickly note information regarding the product. Users may also take of picture of the product which will automatically appear along with any additional company information that can be easily saved and stored.” The App can be found in the AppStore by searching for Est. Finder App.

We are excited to see if this app takes off and gains popularity amongst customers and consumers and what they have to say about knowing exactly where their food comes from! How many of you knew how/where establishment numbers? It goes to show you that just because it’s on a label, it doesn’t necessarily mean the public will know what it means or how to utilize the information. Will you be downloading and trying out this app?

For more information about the App, check out this news article. And for more information about establishment numbers and the USDA directory, check out their website.

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The Challenges of Local Meat

We get quite a few people coming in on a weekly basis asking if we sell local meat. And the answer to that question is NO. But is it by choice? Absolutely not. You would think that it would be as simple as finding cattle, hogs, or sheep for us to buy, slaughter, and cut up to put into our meat case. But it isn’t that simple. Why not? There are a few limiting factors as to why it’s not as black and white as it seems. Read more