Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cows, cows, cows

That is the creative way Henry calls the cows when he feeds them. We are now the proud owners (once we make a downpayment) of 30 Black Angus stocker cows. We'll raise them through the summer and then have them butchered and sell the meat straight to customers, a food coop, and possibly, a local butcher.

This farm to table system is not as popular as it should be. I'm sure many people have heard about how the family farm is dying. It used to be that farmers would raise their cattle and then sell them to the processor who would butcher the cows and wrap them in plastic for the grocery store. With the advent of factory farming, a lot of small family farmers can't make money finishing cows in the traditional system. (Obviously, this is more complex than I make it sound here.)

Recently, we've been meeting farmers who are marketing directly to the customer. This does several things: a) cuts out the middle man, putting more money straight into the farmer's pocket b) allows customers "to know" their meat. (I haven't done a lot of reading on this yet, but apparently, meat that is raised organically is higher in Omega-3s than traditional meat.) This is ideal for smaller farmers, although we know people who have started a coop and are selling their meat together on a larger scale.

We're excited to get involved in this. This fall, we butchered five of our own beeves (an animal raised and slaughtered for beef), kept half a cow for meat (yummy, yummy), and sold the rest. It was exciting to finally get a taste (haha) of what farming could look like for us.

Check out Eat Wild if you want to find a farmer near you!


r.xo said...

*city girl raises her hand*

So, is it higher in Omega-3s because you're feeding them flax feed and the like? Or is there another reason behind it. And what about industry regulations for food and safety, liability for you etc.? Inquiring minds want to know!

Sounds exciting, you guys!!

Sarah said...

As far as industry regulations go, we use a provincially inspected slaughterhouse and butcher. They're a small organization in Lindsay (shop local!!), which Henry has visited and really liked. As long as the abattoir has been provincially (or federally) inspected, we can sell to whomever we like.

It's actually grass-fed beef that is higher in Omega 3s. (I wasn't clear about that in my post). Again, this is only something I've read about on other farm's web sites, but I would think the grass, instead of corn, is what gives makes them higher in Omega3s. (Cows were built to eat grass which is why they have 4 stomachs).

Henry Bakker said...

Here is a little information on the nutritional benefits of grassfed beef. This is from an article on research conducted at Utah State University.

"...the grainfed animals had only 60% as much omega-3 fatty acid as the pasture finished animals.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to increase immune function and to reduce heart disease.

Vitamin E in the meat was 300% higher than in the grain-finished animals. This resulted in a significantly redder meat color than that found in the grainfed animals."

The researchers also found that the grassfed meat was significantly higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), an anti-carcinogenic. Meat from entirely grassfed animals had 466% more CLA than feedlot-finished beef.

You can see the whole article (and more like it) at