There’s a lot to love about grass-fed beef.
It’s delicious. The entire production system is far healthier for the cow, the cow consumer and the planet than is the system for typical commercial meats. And while a vegetarian diet puts the least stress on Earth’s resources, meat eaters can still show the planet love by seeking out sources of local, grass-fed beef.
On the typical commercial feed lot (it’s a lot, not a pasture), cows feast on a species-incorrect diet of corn, soy, grains and hormones. This diet is cheap, and the addition of hormones beefs them up way faster than any grass-fed diet, resulting in an average slaughter age of 2.
Unfortunately, as the cow consumers, we ingest traces of the often pesticide-treated corn, soy and grain and, yes, the hormones, too. Grass-fed-cow consumers, on the other hand, enjoy the large amounts of vitamins A and E and the naturally occurring omega-3s that the grass so kindly passes onto the cow.
A cow grazing on grass as Mother Nature intended is part of a natural, closed-loop system. The cows mow the grass down—keeping overactive species in check sans pesticides—and then poop out manure to replenish the field.
If you already knew the benefits of grass-fed beef, then you’ve probably been looking into purchasing some for you and yours. For most people, finding a local source isn’t easy.
South Orange County residents, on the other hand, can get their fix at the Laguna Hill Farmers’ Market (Fridays from 9am-1pm) and the Irvine Farmers’ Market (Saturday 8am-12pm). There, they can meet and greet F.J. Fitzpatrick of 5 Bar Beef.
He’s a local cattleman who raises his herd in Trabuco Canyon. Fitzpatrick is incredibly knowledgeable and easy to talk to. He was patient with all of my questions, even though all of answers are already in this video for In Search of Good Food, which is readily available for viewing on his website.
If you’ve yet to enjoy your first morsel of grass-fed sirloin steak, here’s a warning: This beef looks, smells and tastes different than commercial sirloin, and you can’t cook it like commercial sirloin. Get it right and you’ll slice into a tender, flavor-rich steak. Get it wrong and you’ll be lucky to slice into it at all. Not to worry! I asked Fitzpatrick about preparation. With a smile, he handed me his business card; this recipe is printed on the back:
F.J. Fitzpatrick’s “Low & Slow” Grass-Fed Steak Recipe
Pull the boiler rack out of the oven. Preheat oven to 240 degrees. Place steak onto the broiler rack and poke a few holes into it with a knife. Spread 1 tsp of butter and ½ tsp of crushed garlic on top. Sprinkle steak with ½ tsp each of your favorite herbs, salt and pepper. Place the steak in the oven. Check the steak after 20-30 minutes. At 40 minutes, the steak will be rare.
Are you a farmers’ market customer? If so, do you chat up the vendors? Have you met F.J.?