The days when we eat whatever restaurants or grocery stores have to offer, without questioning source and process, are waning. Consumers demand to understand where their food comes from. We want to know what we put in our bodies and how the environment and our own health are affected by what we eat. The sourcing and overall quality of meat, and especially beef, has become important to those of us who care about our own health and that of our planet.
In our hamburger poll, 2/3 of people responded that lean meat is important to them, while over half prefer organic meat. Consumers increasingly select artisan, natural, organic, grass-fed, family farm-sourced, and locally-raised beef in their efforts to be conscious of health, environmental, and animal welfare issues. As people become more aware of the problems associated with the factory farming, we look towards choosing beef from alternative sources, such as family farms. Eatwild describes the problems associated with factory farming and the benefits of eating grass-fed meat and dairy products. It also lists safe sources for these products.
It is often time consuming to order meat products directly from these farmers, but there are resources out there to help us eat better meat, even if we don’t have time to make a trip out to the ranch. The top restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area highlight their use of natural and gourmet meat provider, Niman Ranch.
For those looking for something even more special, check out the Oliver Ranch Company, an online beef marketplace that elevates the consumption of beef to an experience that embraces the variety of texture and flavor that results from quality family-farmed natural beef. Founder, Carrie Oliver, says that “the differences that arise between meats produced by different family farms can be compared to and celebrated like the nuances observed between different wines.” All of the meat sourced through Oliver Ranch is natural and family-farmed, with some selections that are organic and grass-fed. The company’s established standards allow customers to feel confident that they are purchasing beef from quality sources. Oliver Ranch allows customers to see exactly where their beef comes from by posting detailed information about each farm from which it sources, including pictures of the ranchers responsible for raising the cattle. The emergence of companies such as Oliver Ranch demonstrate the public’s rising demand for knowledge of their own personal food chains and a defection from the old paradigm of consumption based on the anonymous and unaccountable factory farm.