Processing, Animal Welfare and Beef Flavor:
I am aware and I have seen personally how big packing plants process cattle. Food, Inc. is an informative documentary to watch and learn about our Industrial Food system. Too often, it is not as good a system as it should be, and animals definitely can be abused. Genetic Roulette is an excellent documentary detailing the perils of genetically modified organisms being promoted by Monsanto. If this documentary doesn't change your life and your attitude toward our Industrial Food system, you are a lost cause.
Here at Holy Cow Beef, we are audited and approved via two separate auditing standards: The American Grassfed Association (AGA) and Whole Foods Market's Global Animal Partnership (GAP) to audit and to monitor how producers raise and handle their animals from birth to unloading them from their trailers at the processing plant. Our goal is to have as docile and stress-free animal experience as possible as we load, transport and unload our animals from our ranch to the processing plant. We do not use electric hot shots (except in the case of an emergency or for the animal's welfare) or machinery to move cattle in the pens or trailers. WHY? Just as with humans, stress, fear and excitement cause a rush of adrenaline to flow through an animal's vasular system. This adrenaline rush and muscle stess (Hello! remember how sore you were after working out?) toughens the muscle, and thus the meat, just before processing and can add an off flavor to the beef. We avoid this event as best we can. We believe our low-stress approach to animal welfare is a major reason our beef has such a robust flavor profile.
Our cattle are allowed sufficient time to drink water, to rest and to relax for several hours before processing begins. Eventually, cattle are moved through pens or wind themselves through a series of turns (that way they never really see where they are going and they remain as calm, as possible, in the process) as they move to what is known as the kill box. Before they reach the kill box, the cattle are washed thoroughly to remove debris. Finally, only one animal at a time is moved into the kill box. The gun is lowered from above the animal's head and out of its field of vision. The animal never sees this happening.
Our Vacuum-Packed steaks can stay in your freezer for a long time if your seal remains good. No customer intends to keep meat in their freezer indefinitetly. The only problem we experience with our Vacuum-Packed bags is that the bone in the meat can puncture a hole in the bag during the many times the cut is handled: it is handled by the butcher, our family unloading the meat into our freezers, our family re-loading from our freezers into our green Holy Cow Beef insulated bags and lastly onto our freezer trailer for delivery to your home, and lastly your handling at your home. Obviously, there are many opportunities for a bone, in the beef package, to puncture a hole in the bag. We recommend you place a paper towel underneath all cuts you are thawing to catch any blood and to verify whether or not you have an air-tight seal.
Dry and Wet Aging:
DRY AGING is the process of hanging a carcass in a cooler (at approximately 34 degrees F) for several days. The carcass does not freeze and begins to dehydrate some of its water weight. We estimate that our animals lose from 5-7 percent of their total carcass weight. This is water weight that our customers do not have to pay for. This concentrates the remaining flavor into the muscle tissue. Also, since the animal is not frozen, microbial activity begins to break down and tenderize the meat and its connective tissue. Our animals are Dry Aged approximately 9-14 days while the animals processed by big packing plants are Dry Aged 1-2 days.
Wet Aging is the process where you thaw your Vacuum-Sealed beef cuts slowly in your fridge. If you place a paper towel underneath the cut, thaw it and there is no liquid leaking from the bag, then your seal is airtight and good. That means there is no oxygen in the bag and you can let that steak wet age in your fridge for one to two more weeks without it going bad. This wet aging process intensifies the flavor and further tenderizes the meat.
This is the best I can do to explain how our processing works and why we Vacuum Pack your beef. It cost us more to vacuum seal but it gives you more flexibility as the cook to leave your beef in the freezer longer, to wet age your beef in the fridge, and to have an even better eating experience.