By Megan Barber, Grocery & Wellness Buyer, Merchandising Manager, Co-op Owner
A thousand ways to love what you eat.
Knowing where your food comes from and how it impacts the planet is key to staying informed and making healthy decisions. GreenTree carries Thousand Hills Cattle Co. grass-fed beef products in the fresh meat case and sometimes in the frozen cases. We chose to bring in this particular brand because of the great things the company and farmers are doing – and it’s at a great price point for you! Thousand Hills Cattle Co. started in 2003 with a plan to raise good food that’s good for people and the planet. The farmers pledge to use no artificial hormones, antibiotics, confinement, GMOs, grain, or grain byproducts. This means the cattle live on farms in the pastures where they graze on grass like cattle are meant to. In the winter months, they are supplemented with hay and other forage due to the limited availability of grazing grass. If a steer becomes sick or injured and the use of antibiotics is necessary, they are treated and then marked to be delivered to conventional meat markets.
But why is grass-fed better for consumers? When cattle consume grass and natural feed like hay, the meat is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E, and K2, CLA, and lower in cholesterol, saturated fats, and calories when compared to grain fed beef. And why is it better for the cattle to eat this diet of grasses? Because cattle have multiple stomachs with different enzymes that make this diet, not grain, their ideal natural diet. But is it really better for the planet? Yes, because grass-fed cattle and the rotational pasture approach Thousand Hills Cattle Co. uses is beneficial to the environment. The rotational approach has the herd moving from pasture to pasture often, which lets natural grasses regrow after grazing, prevents over grazing, eliminates the need to use heavy machinery to work the land. When cattle consume grasses rather than grain, their carbon emissions are drastically reduced!
Farmers in the Thousand Hills Cattle Co. are dedicated to raising a better quality of beef. One farmer from Minnesota has been raising grass-fed cattle for over 10 years. His father and grandfather and so on back had been raising cattle throughout history. They even brought their cattle from Germany as they emigrated! (I hope they didn’t get sea-sick…) He is now teaching his children the ways of grass feeding cattle and how to raise plain ‘o’ good food. Farms like this don’t need to be sprawling. His farm is just 50 cow/calf pairs, 75 stockers, and 2 bulls generally.
At GreenTree we stock their grass-fed 85/15 ground beef, *uncured stadium bratwurst, uncured beef hot dogs, and, at the beginning of April, steak. The company offers more products and as soon as they are available to us, they will be available to you!
Allow steaks to temper to room temperature for approx. one hour before cooking. Our steak is recommended served between medium-rare and medium (135°F to 145°F). Sear the meat over the heat source, let the juices rise to the uncooked surface, turn once (use tongs rather than a fork), remove from heat and allow to rest at least five minutes before serving.
To make a great burger, cook to about medium-well (160°F). Sear the meat over the heat source, let the juices rise to the uncooked surface, turn once (use tongs rather than a fork), remove from heat and allow to rest at least five minutes before serving.
Grilling Grass-Fed Beef
The difference between cooking grass-fed beef and corn-fed beef is based upon how much intramuscular fat there is. Fat conducts heat (think of a deep-fat fryer – that’s also fat conducting heat). In a steak, fat conducts heat from the outside of the steak to the inside. A corn-fed steak cooks faster, since it’s essentially pre-larded with fat, there’s more wiggle room for a cook to goof up and still have things work out. In contrast, with grass-fed beef, your main goal is to not overcook.
*Uncured means no artificial preservatives like nitrates or nitrates are used.