We had some AWESOME visitors to our farm in 2017!  When the group of folks pictured below showed up one cold Saturday morning in November, we were a little over whelmed.  So what brought this large group out for a visit?

Read, Brennan and Post Families from the Omaha area visiting November 2017.

Post, Brennan and Read Families from the Omaha area visiting November 2017.

Mothers On Mission

The three Mom’s in the photo above had done their homework.  They care about what they feed their families.  The questions they brought to us were to the point:

  • How do we care for the animals?
  • What else do the cattle eat besides grass?
  • How do we manage the pastures?
  • What kind of grass is this?
  • What about the fat profile of the meat?
  • Do you spray the pastures?
  • How do you move the cattle?
  • What about the water for the herd?
  • Do the cattle get any medicine or shots?
  • When are the calves born?
  • What are the best ways to prepare the meat?

We did our best to answer each question.  The Pass – Fail test comes when our guests visit the herd.

  1. It doesn’t take long for anyone to decide if the animals are calm & satisfied versus stressed or lacking care.
  2. You don’t need to be a range scientist to see if the pasture is overgrazed.
  3. A simple walk across the pasture will tell you if the land and water is protected.

Seeing the pasture and herd is KNOWING.  Know Your Farmer Know Your Food.

Back to our visiting Mom’s

We applaud the Mothers and Grandmothers that visited our farm over the past few years.  The impact THEY are having on the “food industry” is a welcome change.  Successful Farming noted this change on this February 2016 Magazine Cover.

meet your new boss

Real change is happening

After the families pictured above left our farm, we had another visitor scheduled this same cold November Saturday.  Our next guest was a woman who works for one of the largest food processing manufactures in the world.  She was interested in what was happening in our pasture.  As with all our visitors, we had a great time discussing farming, food, environment and “the herd”.

When she disclosed who she worked for and what she did, we asked about any changes her company was going through.  Our guest was quick to point out that her “customers” were demanding the removal of many processed food ingredients.  The number one priority, removal of artificial food colors and dies.  Her company is responding, change is happening!

Change starts one bite at a time

Years ago when Sheila and I first felt the need to change our food buying options, it seemed overwhelming.  The first farmer we purchased clean food from locally was quick to discuss our feelings.  He told us to just keep it simple.  Make easy changes to your food purchases.  Grow into the change where it makes sense when the timing is right.

This advise was spot on.  Slow and steady wins the race.  We all vote for what kind of “food industry” we want with each bite.  We are moving the food industry one bite at a time!

What about our visiting guys?

We really need to talk about the guys pictured above.  These husbands had taken the wives out for a special Friday evening the night before visiting our farm.  Where did the ladies take the guys?  HA, I had to laugh, the ladies get a night out on the town and the guys get a cool morning walk in a pasture!  Way to go Men, supporting the ladies!  What a fun group.

What about the kids that came along?

The kids pictured above had a sense of wonderment that us adults need to stop and recapture more often.  They had some great questions also.  What can these kids learn from their parents?

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Proverbs 6:20-21

When these kids become the next wave of food purchasers, all we can say is, watch out and Thank You MOMs!

About a year ago national news carried the story of a Bone Broth drive through opening in New York City (move over espresso).  Yes bone broth, you have probably heard it is good for you?  Here at DS Family Farm, the most requests for additional product information is for BONES!

Warm and drink beef bone broth.

Warm and drink beef bone broth.

So here are some basics on bone broth with an emphasis toward beef bones.

There are three kinds of bones:

  1. Meaty, for flavor = oxtail, short ribs and shank/soup bones
  2. Collagen, for body, think gelatin = knuckle bones
  3. Marrow bones, for “essence” a delicacy

Flavor, actually all bones will impart some flavor and all broth recipes will call on other ingredients for more flavor (vegetables, spices, herbs).

So lets talk about collagen or the gelatin, think Jell-O, like consistency of broth.  Note here that broth from your local store will most likely be in liquid form, lacking the gelatin results of home-made bone broth.

Collagen, it is needed every where in our body and actually makes up about 30% of our body’s protein.  These proteins contain thousands of amino acids.  Collagen production in our body slows with age.  Think of sagging skin, stiff joints and increasingly prone to injuries as we age.

Marrow, think fat and brain food from this bone source.  Actually there isn’t a lot of data on marrow.  This soft white tissue (marrow) is actually one of the largest organs in our bodies and we don’t know much about it!

What about minerals in the broth?

Actually broth does not contain high levels of minerals.  When you drink bone broth, the minerals you consume will be in the correct ratio, making it easy for our body to absorb.  Broth is “real food” unlike a pill you take from a jar labeled “multi-mineral”.  Bone strength comes from the collagen and not from the minerals we consume.  Our friend Danna recently shared this interesting blog post from a person who did their own research on bone broth mineral content.

Protein

Compared to minerals, broth has higher levels of protein but is an “incomplete protein” (we cannot live on broth alone).  So always plan to compliment bone broth with other high-quality animal proteins such as eggs, milk, fish, poultry or meat.  Bone broth will lower the amount of protein needed from these other sources.  In turn, this will relieve stress from your digestive system.

The big 3 Amino Acids found in broth:

The following amino acids are not actually considered “essential”, but supplementing your diet with the amino acids found in bone broth will aid in your search for better health:

  • Proline
    • Looking for healthy pain-free joints, healthy cartilage, this amino acid does the work.
  • Glycine
    • For healthy blood, digestion and detoxification!
    • Prevents acid reflux, supports wound healing and used by our bodies to remove toxins.
    • A building block for glutathione = cancer curbing, age slowing, an antioxidant.
  • Glutamine
    • For cell regeneration such as the lining of cells in the small intestine (Gut-Healing).
    • Enhance injury recovery from wounds, stress or surgery.
    • Cuts cravings for sugar/carbs.
    • Prevents muscle wasting, stimulates muscle-building and repair.
    • Helps with depression, anxiety and mood swings.

So how much broth should you drink?  One cup per day should be fine for health maintenance and disease prevention.  If dealing with a medical condition try a cup in the AM, at Noon and again in the PM.

warm bone broth

Homemade bone broth from DS Family Farm beef bones will be a thick gelatin. To drink, warm the broth first or add some broth to your hot coffee or tea.

Looking for more information?

  1. Broth Is Beautiful – WAPF
  2. Why Broth Is Beautiful – WAPF
  3. Book – “Nourishing Broth” (information used in this post)

Want to try making your own broth?  All you need:

  1. WE HAVE BONES at DS Family Farm, drop us an email!
  2. Dr. Axe Beef Bone Broth Recipe (try it in your crock pot)

AHHHHH, pour me some bone broth please…

Folks have commented that they really like how our ground beef fries up in the pan with little “grease”.  A friend said, “yeah, love grassfed beef, but still think it tastes a little ‘gamey’.”  I asked, “‘Gamey’ or ‘Beefy’ flavor?”   After a moment he said, “Ahhh, maybe that IS how beef should taste.”  Your taste buds aren’t confused, they probably don’t know any better, let me explain…

If you have spent anytime on our website, you know we refer to our beef as Pasture Grazed rather than grassfed because our cattle consume more than just grass.  Take a look at a list of known plants growing in our pasture:

Complext flavor of beef

“complex pastures create complex flavor in meat” – Grazing guru Jim Gerrish.

In addition to the flavor from our pasture, in earlier posts we discussed the following factors that play into the flavor/taste of our Pasture Grazed Beef:

  • TIME – overall flavor comes with animal maturity.
    • Our beef is harvested after 24 months of age.
    • The last 60-90 days of feed probably influences flavor the most.
  • FATS – Lynne Curry in her book Pure Beef notes:
    • “omega-3 level is one of the reasons grassfed beef has a more intense taste than grainfed beef”
    • Remember our beef is high in those good Omega 3 Fats!
    • Phospholipids fat, the fat we cannot see, stores the flavor.
    • The triglyceride fat we can see will be a hard creamy white to a tint of yellowing.
  • DRY AGING – Lynne Curry has this to say:
    • “It’s all a matter of taste, but many people find dry aging critical to giving the muscles their due time to dry and contract, concentrating the flavors, and letting the calpain enzymes do their tenderizing work.”
    • Our beef is allowed to dry age at least 14 days.
    • Since our beef is vacuum packed, consider letting it thaw in your fridge for an additional “wet age” period.
  • COMPLEX Pastures = primary and secondary plant metabolites
    • In this past post we encouraged you to “eat the rainbow” for your health.
    • Our cattle can transfer to us the part of the rainbow that we cannot eat first hand.

Now let’s take a look at the feed source for typical conventional beef:

Feedlot beef rations

Simple rations result in simple flavors in meat.

Look at the above feed for the last few months of feedlot beef.  Pickup some conventional hamburger at the grocery store.  Now look at the above list again, these are the primary ingredients that make up the store-bought hamburger.

  • Pickup up any other prepared food product in the grocery store.
    • Corn, corn, soybean and more of the same.
    • Aren’t you tired of eating corn for three meals a day?
    • Consider eating beef with real “beefy” flavor.
  • In addition to the simple feeds, feedlot beef are harvested much younger and don’t have the time to acquire “flavor”.
  • Dry aging, due to the time and locker space involved, is not practiced for conventional beef.  It is “wet aged” in a package waiting for purchase at the store.
  • Finally, when you add grain to the diet, the beef rumen bacteria populations switches over to “proteolytic”.
    • The good omega 3 fat disappears, along with the conjugated linoleic acid.
    • The fat turns from a hard milky white marble to a clear greasy fat.

So enjoy some “beefy” pasture based beef!  Just as folks like trying different wineries for the different flavors from each vineyard, we encourage you to try different pasture farm beef!  The different makeup of each farms pasture will give a unique flavor to the beef you find there.

pasture grazed beef

Late summer 2015 grazing, 24+ month old steer (mature flavor) on left. Not just grass-fed our herd is pasture grazed.  The cow in the right image literally ran past the rest of the herd to get to this patch of showy partridge pea when turned into this new paddock.  What was she seeking?  A specific nutrient, mineral or flavor?  Maybe she just likes the pretty flowers in our pasture?

 

In the past three posts we took a close look at our Pasture Grazed beef when compared to typical beef.  Thanks to the folks at Mother Earth News, we can see how our beef compares with other grassfed beef from around the country.  We were fortunate enough to have DS Family Farm beef included in the recent Mother Earth News pilot Omega 6 to Omega 3 test study with other grassfed beef farms from around the USA.  It is an honor to be included with the list of grass based farms that participated.  From looking at the list of participating farms I am guessing many of these farms raise grassfed beef similar to our farm.

To clarify, when people ask me about our “Pasture Grazed” beef, my first point is “yes, we are 100% grassfed”.  So what is the difference?  Basically “grassfed” just involves what feed the animal consumes.  In that sense, yes, we are 100% grassfed.  When we say “Pasture Grazed” we mean that our herd spends their entire life on our pasture, never confined to a feed lot.  For more information please refer to our blog post “Pasture Grazed vs Grassfed Beef“.

Our Pasture Grazed beef compared with the Grassfed beef – Omega 6 to 3 Study

Here is the Data Analysis Summary for beef from the Mother Earth News, 1/11/2016, pilot study.

omega fatty acid testing grass fed beef Mother Earth News

Beef Data Analysis Summary, Mother Earth News 1/11/2016.

In the table below I take the pilot grassfed beef values from the table above and compare them against our Pasture Grazed beef findings:

Grassfed beef omega-3 and omega-6 data

Our Pasture Grazed Beef Omega-3 & 6 data versus all grassfed farm averages in the Mother Earth News Pilot Study 1/11/2016.

A few points about the above chart:

  1. We are humbled that our beef expresses 60% higher anti-inflammatory Omega-3s (above average).
  2. We recognize also that our beef has 24% higher of the inflammatory Omega-6s (above average).
    • It is the Omega-6 LA that holds conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the anti-cancer fatty acid.
    • LA was the primary Omega-6 component of our sample.
    • Since our animals live their entire lives on grass, we estimate ~75% of our Omega-6 LA is CLA.
    • Potentially our sample was above average for CLA, but that is only a guess based on research data.
  3. Again we are humbled that our beef expresses a better Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (above average).
We went into great detail on the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, the O-6 to O-3 ratio and estimating CLA in our previous three blog posts.  We put together a one page summary “Fatty Acid Analysis” PDF with the main charts and links to each post.  Consider printing out the PDF so you have the charts in front of you while you review each blog post for detailed analysis.
The first time I heard of Mother Earth News was back around 2008 when we were really researching our opportunities in grass based animal production.  I remember they created a stir in the health community when they claimed that not all eggs were created equal (Meet Real Free-Range Eggs – Mother Earth News 2007).  Again we feel fortunate that our pasture grazed beef was part of this pilot 2015 grassfed study and thank Josh Brewer for his encouragement and insights with this project.

This is the third and final post discussing our beef compared to “typical” beef.  If nothing else, I have learned a great deal about the role of fat in my diet as I complete this summary of the laboratory analysis of our Pasture Grazed Beef.  When I asked Midwest Labs to analyze our beef, I specifically requested a report of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), see our “Power Fat” blog post from April 2014 on this all important fat component.  Unfortunately they were unable to analyze CLA specifically.  So what is CLA and what can we tell from the data we have?

Estimating CLA

Conjugated linoleic acid is a form of rearranged omega-6 linoleic acid (LA).  The rearranged LA (CLA) appears to be anti-cancer where as our earlier post pointed out omega-6 fatty acids, like LA, are inflammatory.  So the more LA converted to CLA the better!  This conversion is more dramatic for animals that spend a larger part of their life on green forages.  For a run down of CLA and grassfed meats, refer to the CLA page at EatWild.com and this CLA document at BeefResearch.org.

So what can we deduct from the laboratory data we have for our Pasture Grazed Beef sample vs. the two “typical” beef samples for CLA?

  1. The Beef Research document notes “the total CLA content of beef varies from 0.17 to 1.35% of fat”.
    • Remember, we are comparing 3 lean beef samples with comparable levels of total fat (nutrition label).
  2. We have established our beef matches grassfed characteristics and the typical beef matches grain fed.
    • The Eat Wild information notes that grassfed beef will have 3 to 5 times more CLA than grain fed.
  3. For our estimates we will use 1.25% CLA in our grassfed fat and (1.25/3=0.42) 0.42% CLA in typical beef fat.
    • This will put our beef just below the high range for CLA content and only 3 times more than the typical beef.
  4. Using our four ounce serving size nutrition label.
    • DS Family Farm Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0125 = estimated CLA of 0.13 grams.
    • CNF 6068 Typical Beef = 8.4 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.
    • USDA 23271 Typical Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.

Another note of interest is that CLA is fairly stable under most cooking and storage conditions.  All of the facts and figures presented in these three posts have been on raw meat analysis.  I’ll keep “what happens during cooking” for a future blog post.  From what I hear, during cooking we loose more Omega 3 than Omega 6 which will raise the final Omega 6 to 3 ratio.

Is There Really A Difference Between Grassfed and “Typical” Beef?

I think we can say, “Yes” there is a difference.  From the laboratory, to the field, to the animal and to the taste, many folks will tell you, yes, there is a difference.

The question becomes, “Is the difference enough to make a difference?”

If you are interested in grassfed meat for your health, here is a 2010 study where eating grassfed meats (beef and lamb) increased the study groups blood omega 3 values.  (Cambridge Press link).  Note in this study there was not much CLA difference in any of the beef, but the lamb was off the charts (higher) for CLA!

If you ask for my opinion, I would have to say “I don’t know” if the difference is enough to make a difference.  There appears to be some good indicators that grassfed meat does have health benefits but as my “Health Nut Highway” friend would tell me, we are all “biochemically different”.  If grassfed meat makes you feel better, than yes it does make a difference!

Looking to improve your health:

  • Eat whole foods, locally produced and minimally processed.
  • Reduce sugars, starches, vegetable oils, stress and toxic relationships.
  • Increase your intake of animal protein and fats!
    • 100% Grassfed preferable (I am biased).
    • But any animal that has access to grass for a significant part of their lifespan should be just fine.

The old adage applies, “if you don’t measure it you can’t manage it”.  These results show that our management is headed in the right direction.  Our beef definitely fits the “healthy profile” as promoted by the grassfed beef industry.  We will leave you with a graphic of our beef nutrition label.  Note this graphic depicts an eight ounce ribeye steak (four ounce sounds kind of small to me).

grassfed ribeye nutrient breakdown

Graphic of the major nutrient make up of our grassfed ribeye including detailed omega 6:3 ratio.  Estimated CLA = 260 mg.

A summary of all three “Fatty Acid Analysis” posts PDF.