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DeRusha Eats: I Bought A Cow


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OK, maybe the headline is a little misleading. I didn't buy an entire cow. I bought a quarter cow. And I'm sharing it with two other families, to see how it goes.

I know I'm treading on Reetsyburger's grass-fed sustainable turf here, but after having children, my wife and I have slowly been transitioning to a more local and organic-style of eating. We've been part of Featherstone Farm's CSA program for three years now (we did the winter share this year as well).

We were in the Braucher's SunShine Harvest Farms meat CSA for about six months, and loved it.

I just joined the Shepherd's Way Farm sheep's milk cheese CSA (the cheese is INCREDIBLE!).

And now we bought a cow. (To be fair, I did take my kids to Costco last night to have $2 pizza slices and $1.50 hot dogs—so there's that.)

It can be a confusing process, with a lot of decision points. We knew we wanted grass-fed beef, from a Minnesota farmer. But was it important to have the beef from a certified organic farm? What's the cost? What's the value?

My wife visited a farm with a friend and the kids (to see "happy cows"), and tasted their beef. It was great. But we ended up going with farmer Mike at StoneBridge Beef in Long Prairie.

Why?

He was extremely responsive to all of our questions. Customer service, right? The Devon-Angus breed of cow is grass-fed and served at Lucia's, Broders, and the Dakota, according to the farmer. Their farm is Animal Welfare Approved, which tells us that the cows are indeed happy cows.

We decided that being certified organic was not important to us; this farm has practices that they consider "beyond organic." But many farms don't want to go through the hassle of the paperwork for being certified. So we asked a lot of questions.

What do you feed your cows? Do you rotate your grazing pastures? Where do you process it?

Ultimately, it comes down to trust. Do you trust the farmer? Do you want to support the farmer? Our quarter of beef costs $2.89 per lb. plus processing (57¢/lb). Prices are based on carcass (or hanging) weight.

And even more, ultimately it comes down to taste. How is that beef? I'll report back. In the meantime, I need to go buy a freezer.
 

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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