Benson Farms 09-23-22 Newsletter

Benson Farms 09-23-22 Newsletter

Happy Friday!

Jason, from Benson Farms, here. 
A few weeks ago I began discussing the taste difference between our grass-finished beef and grocery store beef finished on grain. The first part of that focused on the dry aging process, which I believe is the biggest factor. It is the dry aging that really intensifies the robust flavor experience. In case you missed it, you can read that here in our Newsletter Archive. Below, I address the second part of the discussion: diet. I've put together a lot of information for you today, but I didn't want to break it up, so this one is a little long.

Benson Farms Update: This week Sandy and the girls decided that we need a "tiny farm". They have picked out a spot that they want to fence and they have been researching all of the tiny animals they want for the farm. They're decided that they want cows, donkeys, goats, pigs, and ponies. I do have to admit that all of the miniature animals are very cute. I'm sure there will be more to come on that in the future.

Welcome to the Benson Farms Family: If you're new this week, welcome! We're happy that you're here. I've been working on putting together a Newsletter Archive on our website. You can check that out to see more of what we are about.

Spring Deposits are Open: Thank you to everyone who placed deposits with us this week! If you haven't placed a deposit yet for part of our spring harvest, don't wait. Availability is limited. You can check out all of our bonuses hereDeposits will close at noon on October 31st! Click here to see our available packages and make a deposit to fill your freezer this spring.   

The Grass-finished Difference: 
All other things equal, does grass-finished meat taste different? The answer is certainly “Yes”, but the flavor difference is difficult to explain. I’ve talked with several people and read a good deal the past few weeks to try and find the right words to explain it. Then, earlier this week, I was talking about it with one of our regular customers and it hit me. The word is “natural”.

First, some history. You see, in the big picture of beef, grain finishing is still the “new way” of doing it. That’s because grass is a cow’s natural diet. For about 10,000 years, from somewhere around 8,000 B.C. when the first cattle were domesticated through the 1950’s, cattle had evolved on a diet of grasses and clovers. This meant that they matured at a natural rate into healthy adult animals. Then, the invention of the MD-1 self-propelled combine harvester by the FAHR company from Germany changed all that in 1951. By 1953 combines could harvest up to 5 metric tons of wheat per day.

That single innovation completely transformed the entire beef industry within 10 years. For the first time in human history cattle producers had access to huge quantities of wheat, oats, and corn at a relatively low cost. That brought about rapid changes to the “standard” practices in the beef industry. Just like you or I could gain massive amounts of weight quickly if all we did was sit on the couch watching T.V. while we ate corn chips and candy bars that we washed down with pancake syrup, beef producers were now able to fatten calves quickly on feedlots in about one third less time.

The producers quickly learned to inject calves with hormones for early growth and then move them to the feedlots and stuff them full of grain. Because cattle are not well adapted to eat grain, the producers also provided a steady supply of Tums (calcium-carbonate) in their feed to help with the sever stomach issues it caused. Additionally, poor health and overcrowded lots lead to weakened immune systems and increased disease, so they began indiscriminate antibiotic treatment to “proactively” prevent the onset of disease. And that has been the industry standard for the past 60 years or so. The better part of an entire generation.

So, what does any of this have to do with taste? The first time I ate grass-finished beef, it was my own. Many of you may have never had the opportunity to taste what real, natural beef flavor should be. You see, what that rapid grain fattening does is, it results in unhealthy animals with excessive saturated fats. It is those unhealthy fats that create the “flavor” of grain-finished grocery store meat. The general consensus is that the flavor of grain-finished beef is best described as “sweet”. However, people seem to have a much harder time when asked to describe the taste of grass-finished beef. As I said, most people in the United States have never tasted natural beef from a healthy animal as it should taste. The words I commonly hear from people to describe it are “mineral”, “beefy”, “meaty”, and “complex”.

One final note. Not all grass-finished beef is going to be equal. The best steak I ever recall eating was grass-finished, but so was the worst. Most of the farm-to-table producers that I know started out as a cow/calf operation and transitioned to direct sales. That’s what we did. There are a lot of factors that play into the taste of the final product, such as genetics, body fat content, the skill and competency of the butcher, and finally the chef. I know that some of our early success was just pure luck. I’ll probably address some of that in the next few weeks.

Until next time,

Jason Benson
Benson Farms

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