This summer we took another step towards eating more local, organic and grass fed. Produce has always been easy for us to eat locally and organically because if we don’t grow it ourselves we have endless choices here in Sonoma County for finding what we do want. We can get local milk by buying Clover Stornetta in the grocery store, but what about beef, specifically grass fed beef and butter?
Earlier this summer a good friend of mine, who is a journalist, was asked to write a story on local cheese. One of the cheese makers told her that our cheeses are so good because of the great dairies the milk comes from and that she should go check out McClelland’s Dairy. She took a tour and raved about it, which of course I signed up for in about half a second. So on one Saturday afternoon I rallied the troops and we headed west of Petaluma.
What a great afternoon we had walking around, petting calves, admiring the beaucolic scenery, learning about the organic dairy business, and even milking a cow!
McClelland’s is a family run organic dairy which sells most of their milk to Clover Stornetta. It was really interesting to learn about how a diary runs. And the entire family was so nice, I highly recommend that you take a tour if you can. At the end of the tour you get the option to buy their butter, which is made from organic grassfed milk. I sent Scott up to the counter to buy a 5lb brick of it. ‘Really, do we need SO much?’ he asked. Yes, yes we do! We cut it up into bar sized chunks and have been enjoying it on toast and homemade jam all summer long.
The other thing we began to research was how to buy grassfed beef. After watching Food Inc. and reading beef recall after beef recall, we did our best to eliminate all beef from our diet that wasn’t grass fed and somewhat local (from California). But that gets to be expensive, especially when your little boys are growing to be bigger eaters every day! So we did some research on eatwild.com but ended up buying from a local source here in Sonoma, Beltane Ranch. I had seen their sign as I’ve driven up Highway 12 for a while now that they had grassfed beef but they recently added a sign down by the square to advertise too. So we called and now we have a quarter of a cow in our freezer!
We happened to call just in time, they had just slaughtered the cows by using a local, traveling butcher, and sent the beef down to Broadway Market for them to dry age for 20+ days, butcher down and wrap up. We eagerly awaited our order and went to pick up our 187 lbs late in July. Each package came neatly wrapped and marked with the cut, which includes at least one cut of everything imaginable and about 40lbs of ground beef and stew bones.
We’ve had hamburgers several times now and I have to say that we are eating the best hamburgers I’ve ever had! The butchers got the fat/meat ratio just right and the deepened flavor from dry aging and grass feeding really comes through. The bigger cuts of meat we are getting better at cooking as they are much, much leaner and cook faster that your typical beef. However I think we’ve gotten the hang of it and had an incredible London Broil the other night.
All in all, I believe we paid around $4.50 per pound for this meat, which for dry aged, grass fed beef is a steal!