Holy Cow Beef is dedicated to providing the highest quality beef and always keeping our customers informed. The stories below are our opinion on two very important and very misleading cases involving the beef industry.
In the 1980s, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) developed a ground beef production process that separates beef trimmings and fats, using a centrifuge. In the 1990s, because of concern over the potential presence of E Coli in beef, BPI started infusing a blast of ammonia gas into the ground beef additive / filler to increase the pH and kill any bacteria or pathogens.
In 2002, a USDA food scientist, Gerald Zirnstein, was working on a project to identify what was actually being included in “ground beef” and whether it met food safety standards. In a private e-mail to a colleague, he referred to the scrap pieces of meat and their chemical treatment as “pink slime.” Thus, the term Pink Slime came into existence in the beef industry.
So, the following information is our personal opinion and is not meant to be a precise scientific explanation. Holy Cow Beefo does not add Pink Slime to any of our beef cuts ... including our Extra Lean Premium Ground Beef and our Ground Beef.
Please search the term Pink Slime and you will find many links to articles that more properly describe Pink Slime and how it is produced. Also, you will see photos of Pink Slime. Simply put, it is "Big Beef's" way of reconstituting, processing and chemically treating parts of meat tissue and fluid from a beef animal. The consumer then eats a hamburger patty that is not made from 100% meat and fat tissue, but from the animals' connective tissue, collagen and water.
Have you ever wondered why traditional supermarket ground beef is so watery both before and after you cook it? Now, you know why! Have you ever wondered why your traditional supermarket beef cuts: steaks, roasts, stew meats, etc. are so juicy when you unwrap the packaging? Processing plants are allowed to rehydrate the animals' carcasses with water. So, the consumer could be paying a high price for additional water weight in their meat purchase.
How does Holy Cow Beef process our Grassfed animals? Once our animals are killed, they are placed in a cooler (at 34 degrees) for approximately 9-14 days of dry aging or dehydrating. Our carcasses lose approximately 5-7% of their carcass weight in water loss. This process further concentrates the animal's beefy flavor profile. "Big Beef's" animals are NOT dry aged as long to lose water weight, but rather, they are rehydrated with additional water to increase their weight. This process further waters down the animal's already bland flavor profile. Which process offers you the most meat vs. water for your hard-earned dollars?
Bottom line: when price shopping, a consumer should know that traditional supermarket beef has additional water in its meat, compared to Holy Cow Beef's Grassfed beef, for which the consumer is paying a hefty price.
Holy Cow Beef knows, that without our faithful customers, we would not have a business. Thus, continuing our business philosophy that Holy Cow Beef customers are our partners in raising and providing the highest quality and most nutritious beef available, I need to inform you about misleading "beef labeling" that you are seeing or will see in your local stores' meat counter. Once again, what follows is the business opinion of Holy Cow Beef.
With the increased interest by consumers in niche-marketing beef; i.e., Grassfed, All-Natual, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) decided to define the minimum standards of what is required by farmers/ranchers/producers of beef to qualify for certain beef labels. Our local Grassfed Livestock Alliance, our national American Grassfed Association (AGA), our national Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), and several other all-grass associations lobbied very hard with our USDA beef labeling committee to seize upon this opportunity to "narrowly define" exact and precise animal welfare protocols and grazing standards so consumers would know exactly what they are eating. Of course, big corporate ranches, feedlots, and the Industrial Food complex also lobbied very hard for a very "broadly defined" set of protocols and minimum standards. In our opinion, we lost; you lost; and they won ... the lobbying war that is; and now meat labels are loose, vague and more confusing for consumers than ever.
So, beware! Below is our abbreviated interpretation of those USDA labeling standards.
All Natural — allows producers to administer additional growth hormones (steroid implants and growth promoters), high-dosage quantities of antibiotics (to sick feedlot animals), and low-dosage quantities of antibiotic feeds (medicated feeds) with the grain-based feeds used in feedlots. FYI, it has been reported that 70% of worldwide antibiotic consumption is in U.S. feedlots. Now the only USDA requirement is that for the last 90 days before slaughter, producers cannot administer these items to the animals. Is it true that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has now given Merck approval to sell a Growth Hormone that only has a three (3) day withdrawal? Can consumers trust both the USDA and FDA to do what is in the best interest of consumers?
A feedlot animal is slaughtered at approximately 12-24 months of age. A three-day (3 days) or even a three-month (90 days) withdrawal out of 12-24 month lifespan allows producers a lot of time to implant and to medicate their animals. The USDA believes all the negative effects of added Growth Hormones and Antibiotics have left the meat tissue after 90 days or possibly even 3 days. These animals can be finished in the feedlot and never have access to grass their entire lives and they still qualify as All Natural? Go figure! Big lobbies have big money!
Pasture Finished — means a producer can feed his animals a "grain-based diet" as long as animals have access to pasture. In my opinion, the problem is that the USDA is allowing feedlots to open a gate from their feedlots, into an adjacent but inadequately small pasture, to qualify as pasture finished. Feedlots manage thousands of head per day on a limited number of acres. Most ranchers run 1 cow per 5 to 40 acres to ensure that one animal has adequate grass to graze. So, a feedlot with 10,000 head would need thousands of acres to adequately provide for those animals. Given a choice, cattle will spend the majority of their time at the feed trough and a minority of time eating grass.
The original intent, of most of us small producers using the term Pasture Finished, was to define Pasture Finished to help consumers understand that cattle do not eat just grass. While in a pasture, they eat a lot of different green forages: winter annuals, weeds, wheat, rye, forbs, tree leaves, etc. But, it needs to be "green". Green forages provide chloroplasts that make chlorophyll green and make grasses nutritious for cattle. Also, grasses consists primarily of proteins rather than carbohydrates. Grains (corn, milo, etc.) are a starch or carbohydrate. A cow's stomach (rumen) was not designed to process starches as efficiently as they process proteins. Lastly, under the Pasture Finished label, small producers supplement protein through the use of cotton seed and/or soybeans. These two supplements provide a lot of healthy protein and fat into a cow's diet.
Grassfed — according to the USDA, means an animal must have "access" to grass and pasture during its life, and the animals must get the majority of its nutrients from grass. The USDA does not define how much time or at what age these animals have this "access" to grass or pasture. Nor will the USDA monitor ranches/feedlots 24/7 to verify how much time an animal spends eating green forages vs. grains from feed troughs. So, is the big beef industry allowed to open a gate from their feedlots to an adjacent pasture to qualify as grassfed? Also, the USDA is allowing producers to implant animals with Growth Hormones and to doctor with antibiotics and to feed medicated feeds and minerals and still qualify as Grassfed. Then, one most assume, the USDA's position is that the use of hormones and antibiotics has nothing to do with the consumer's "concept" of what constitutes Grassfed. We, little guys, all argued (in person before the the USDA's labeling group in Austin, TX) that the average consumer would be extremely confused by this labeling. The SPIRIT of the Grassfed movement is to provide consumers with a healthier choice. All I can say, in my opinion, is that the big-beef industry easily won this labeling battle, and American consumers lost and they will be very confused by it.
Cloning — the USDA recently ruled that meat from cloned animals is safe for human consumption. This means that the beef (all meats) you buy from your supermarket will not carry a label distinguishing that one cut was produced from a cloned animal while another cut was produced naturally. This means you will never know how your beef was produced. I'm sorry, but that is just not good enough for me. I believe in eating only plants and animals that can reproduce themselves ... be fruitful and multiply! Cloned animals are infertile and cannot reproduce. The Bible speaks of eating only foods that contain seeds and can reproduce. That's good enough for me and my family!
Holy Cow Beef will continue to raise and to produce the highest quality Angus Grassfed beef possible. Our beef has all the nutrition God intended it to have ... whatever the heck that is!
After discovering Ascorbic Acid as the main component of the Vitamin C Complex, Linus Pauling is credited for having said, paraphrasing, "What we don't know that exists within the complex or entirety of the Vitamin C Complex is infinitely more important that the singular element Ascorbic Acid." But, of course, it is easier for our big business to synthesize (to manufacture synthetically) Ascorbic Acid than it is to provide everything to consumers that exists in the Vitamin C Complex.
My family eats our beef and we thank you for your support and patronage.