The Price of (organic) Beef

I haven’t blogged much at all lately apart from the obligatory Paper Chef tracking and I’ve been missing it – but work is busy and pretty interesting too, so that’s that. I have been cooking but nothing terribly memorable. Last night for example was the traditional garlic pasta. Accompanied by a variation on my normal greens – this time with purple kale, beet tops, leeks and seasoned with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. To accompany this was my family’s favorite ground beef dish. I fry the ground beef very high, pour off fat after it has browned and then continue to cook until it begins to become crunchy. Add a little soy sauce and keep cooking until dry again. Sounds horrible but is actually very tasty.

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But eating ground beef led to a discussion of why we buy grass-fed, range beef (preferably organic) and how mad cow disease can be seen as an indicator of lots of other problems in our meat supply – for every cow with mad cow, thousands in similar situations have other food pathogens. So we get beef from places where we know they are clean, make ground beef out of a piece of a single cow and that cow has lived a relatively natural roaming life. As opposed to a cow penned, fed feed made of all kinds of garbage and then slaughtered, hacked up and ground with beef from several other cows along with whatever other bits of material got in the way.

This in turn reminded me of the friend of a friend who has a small herd of beef cows near Half Moon Bay that live in fields and eat grass and artichokes by the ocean. We can go in on a cow – he only sells a whole one at a time – and we reckon we need a total of about eight more people to get either an eighth or a sixteenth of a cow. If you are interested email me or leave a comment…

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  1. Have you read The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – brilliant. A British perspective, but I am finding it mostly applicable here in NZ as well. It all really hit home when I bought an organic chicken the other day and actually compared the prices with the non-organic ones – twice the price. I was amazed. But it went twice as far (on purpose perhaps) and made a firm setting stock just from the juices from roasting – now those are properly strong bones as they should be! And it tasted absolutely wonderful.

  2. Emma – I haven’t, but it has been on my wishlist for years!

    We are very lucky where I live – organic chicken isn’t all that much more (about 50%) than regular and is easy to get. One restaurant/market near us sells raw organic chicken at $1.99 a pound and a cooked rotisserie organic chicken (really well cooked) for $9.99 – it is usually about a 3.5 pound chicken. That’s basically $2 to cook it and you can reserve them for a particular time. Since other local stores sell organic chicken for $2.59 or more a pound it is a real deal.

  3. A few weeks ago we were gifted a rather daunting package of organic beef ribs. Not only were they leaps and bounds more flavorful than their grocery store counterparts–the bones made 10 cups of amazing stock. It has been hard to go back to the best we can get at prices we can afford, but unfortunately we live in an area where organic chicken is a breeze to come by, but beef is trickier. I hope to find some people to go in on a whole cow closer to this area–good luck to you.

    As an aside, I am a new reader that is really enjoying your blog! Thank you.

  4. Hello:

    Interesting post about Organic Beef. has just releases an interview with Scott Lively, CEO of Dakota Beef 100% Organic.

    All the best,

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