Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Arizona Local Pastured Meats and Eggs

Growing up in the midwest, I assumed as a child that all cows ate corn.  After all, grain fed beef made for the tastiest, most tender, and most prized burger at the time.  (It's funny to think of it now.  How would a cow have access to corn, soy, and other domesticated crops in the wild?  Apparently I didn't spend enough time on a farm.)  

As it turns out, cows and other ruminant animals like goats and sheep are meant to eat grass and pasture plants.  They tend to become quite ill eating something they're not biologically designed to digest, and they often require antibiotic treatment for subsequent infection.  Grain feed can damage the liver and can cause them to bloat excessively, something that - if left untreated - can suffocate a cow by placing too much pressure on its heart and lungs.  For more on these practices, check out this interview with Michael Pollan.

Meat and milk from animals who eat what they're supposed to is healthier for us.  This makes sense, but do we usually evaluate what the things that we eat eat?  It's just as important.  Grass fed beef has up to five times as much omega-3 fat and double the amount of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a potent anti-inflammatory that may have anti-cancer and reproductive health benefits.  What's the takeaway?  Beef is back...but make sure that it doesn't dominate your plate - after all, variety and lots of veggies are still important - and go for grass-fed when you can.  Eggs from pastured hens have similar health, ecological and ethical benefits as grass-fed bovine products.  

What about milk from grass fed cows?  Many companies are now selling pastured milk, and Kerrygold is my personal favorite brand of butter and cheese.  It is even carried at Costco!  Check the specialty cheese section for both products.

I tasked Intern Macy with researching sources of pastured animal products in Arizona.  Many of these farmers sell at local markets or to restaurants.  The more we support ranchers who are using ethical, sustainable animal husbandry techniques, the more the demand for these products will flourish.  You can also find pastured meat and/or eggs at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joes and many chain grocery stores.

Keep in mind that most conventionally raised (feed lot) cows are grass fed for the first 6 months of life but are then switched to grain to increase their growth rate and fat composition.  Thus, it's imperative to talk to a rancher, if available, and ask if the animals receive anything besides grass, including antibiotics.

As Authority Nutrition states, "Just eat real food that eats real food."



Benefits of meat, eggs and milk products from pastured animals:
- Free from antibiotics, hormones and other added products
- Better fat profile
- High in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA
- Healthier for animals
- Beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- "Green," earth-friendly, less disruptive to the environment
- Supports local farming and community in general
- Less stress to the animal
- More cardioprotective

Arizona ranches and farms that practice pasture feeding: 
Double Check Ranch is a family ranch featuring all natural grass fed beef on the western side of Lower San Pedro River valley. The diet these cattle consume is purely local pasture on which they roam and graze. They do not use any chemicals on their lands. The only fertilizer that is used is made using legumes and natural compost. Occasionally the cows are supplemented with grass hay and salt. They also do all their own slaughtering in their state-inspected packing house, so you will know everything about them from birth to well, plate! They also sell their products at many local farmers markets; check their website for details.

JH Grass Fed is a local family-owned farm. They provide grass fed and grass finished beef and lamb. Their meats are completely void of hormones, antibiotics, grains, and other feed by-products, just the way we like them! These animals are able to live how they did hundreds of years ago. They are not injected with anything or fed anything that doesn’t come from the ground they walk on. They are located on a farm near Cave Creek, but they are one of the many great vendors at the Scottsdale Farmers Market!

Adams Natural Meats raises a lot of their own bison and beef. The animals that are raised on their farm are all grass fed and grass finished. They do work with other nearby farms and sell beef and bison that is partially grain fed for the customers that like more marbling in their meets. They completely distinguish between the two and you will know exactly what you are getting. Their farm is located in Buckeye, but the great thing is that they are a part of farmers markets close by! In fact, they will even be at the Central Farmers’ Market Saturday September 20th.

Chile Acres Farm sells an assortment of items, including natural eggs from 100% pastured chicken.  They sell their eggs by the dozen also including quail and duck eggs. The sell their items at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market every Saturday, Town and Country Market every Wednesday, and Urban Bean Café.

Cami’s Farm
Cami’s Farm is located in Douglas Arizona and is a family farm of 25 years. They specialize in natural pasture raised chicken eggs. Their hens are raised free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Cami’s Farm does not have an official website but you can check them out on Facebook. They are one of the venders at the phoenix public market, so you can also check them out and pick up you fresh eggs there!


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