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Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Gal Gets Her Grill On

LocalHarvest.org

LocalHarvest Newsletter, June 30, 2016
A Gal Gets Her Grill On

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Summertime, and the grilling is easy. Fresh salmon are jumpin, and the pastures are high. Oh, your sauces are rich and your steaks are good-lookin'. So hush little riblets, don't you turn out dry. (Adapted from the great George Gershwin)

We pulled our grill out of the garage last weekend and are thawing out a flank steak and lamb loin roast to throw on the grill for a small gathering of friends. I also plan to grill some bok choy and green onions, two things I can find at the farmers market that happen to grill nicely. There are tons of foods that go great on the barbecue, but this article will focus on meat.

What kind of meat? About a year ago we got a whole grassfed Jersey steer to fill our freezer. He was finished on pristine mountain pastures and native grass hay. Despite being grass-fed, this beef is plenty marbled with fat and moderately tender (the dairy genetics are a big part of that- he was from a Jersey milking herd). I'm not a fan of fork tender beef- I think it's not natural and requires lots of grain to make it that way. A beefy flavor and tight texture are more important to me than the ability to cut a piece of steak with a fork.

The lamb loin roast came from one of the Dorper sheep we raised last year on our own land. We purchased two weanlings in the late spring and moved them around our property to consume grasses, weeds, and acorns. In December we slaughtered and butchered them ourselves, then packaged and labeled for our freezer. Our family rarely eats any meat we did not raise or know personally (Portlandia chicken episode anyone?). I appreciate that is a great privilege that many don't get to experience, but I also see acres and acres of yards around this country that sit unused except for the Saturday morning mowing session. A lot more yards and small acreage properties could be using a few sheep or other livestock to keep their grass short, reduce fire danger, and provide meat for personal consumption. Think of it as your "Freedom Flock". Freedom from complete reliance on grocery store meat. Freedom from burning petroleum and spending hours mowing your grass. Freedom from the danger of wildfire destroying your home. I also recognize there is more to raising animals than that, and luckily there are a lot of great books out there on how to do it (including my own The New Livestock Farmer if you want to turn a livestock hobby into a commercial business).

LocalHarvest is a great place to start if you desire to include more local, pasture-raised, and organic meats into your diet. At last count, they had more than 3,554 producers of pastured pork alone. Not every farm on Local Harvest uses the same practices, but they are all independent family farms. Just for clarity's sake, let's give a short definition of what some of the common meat terms are these days so you can understand what you are looking at:

100% Grassfed: this term applies to ruminant animals only (cattle, bison, sheep, goats) and means that the animals are fed only grass and forages from weaning until harvest. Sometimes you will see another term "grassfed and finished" to imply that it was finished all the way until slaughter just on grass. If meat is simply labeled "grassfed" that does not necessarily mean it was on grass its whole life and may have been finished on other feeds such as grains, soybean hulls, distillers grains, waste vegetables, etc. Look for AGA, AWA, or PCO certified grassfed.

Certified Organic: requires that the animals are fed 100% certified organic feeds or forages (that is GMO free as well), the pastures they graze on are managed organically, no antibiotics or hormones are administered, and some outdoor access is provided. Look for the USDA or certifier seal on the label to be sure it is organic.

Non-GMO or GMO Free: this just became an approved claim for meat and it applies only to what the animal ate. Livestock fed GMO free feeds can still be raised in confinement, can still be given antibiotics or hormones, and the feed can still be grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It just does not contain crops grown with genetically-engineered seeds. Look for Non-GMO Project certification.

Pasture-Raised: is not a certification program, so its interpretation can be quite broad. But in general it means that the animals derive a portion of their diets from being on pasture and that they spend most of the daylight hours outside on growing pasture. Can apply to both ruminants and non-ruminants (such as poultry and pigs). Ask questions to find out more about the farmers practices. For example, what do they do to ensure the regrowth of the pasture and that it doesn't just turn into a dirt lot?

Ok, back to grilling. I am by no means a grilling expert. I look to books like "The Grassfed Gourmet" or websites like AmazingRibs.com to get it right. My best tips for a classic grilled steak or chop are: 1) thaw out your meat for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, 2) a good piece of meat needs only simple seasoning, 3) get the grill properly hot, 4) don't overturn the meat, 5) don't overcook grassfed meats, and finally 6) let it rest for a couple minutes before you devour it, but don't let it get cold.

Happy Grilling,
-Rebecca




From the LH Store

Sausage and barbecues go together like butter on bread. They are made for each other. Conveniently wrapped in its own edible package, sausage can be made with a wide variety of meats, spices, and styles. There is fresh sausage, smoked, and fermented varieties. The LocalHarvest Store. actually has many fun sausage varieties that would pair well with your grill- polish, kielbasa, hot dogs, bratwurst, sweet Italian, breakfast, and others.



Just Picked: Cooking through a CSA

Got a CSA Share? Check out this new informative video series for ideas on what to do with those veggies. The Just Picked series is set up to follow a CSA share for the entire season. With each delivery there will be a new video to showcase the seasonal veggies arriving in the CSA share.



CSAware and CSA Manager

TRY our newest software product: a lighter version of our CSAware software, CSA Manager is designed to provide small to medium farms with sales, scheduling, and broadcast e-mail capabilities, all from your LocalHarvest listing. No need for a separate website or merchant account. Priced competitively for your farm's maximum success!Need a more powerful software package? CSAware has provided critical technology for CSA operations for over 7 years now. We help you run the business end of a CSA. Not sure which package is the best fit? Compare the two!



Recipe: Cabbage Rolls

It's here. It's finally here. That extra-crisp, freshly harvested cabbage has finally arrived in my CSA box (Route 1 Farms). Now I can get my cooking on. Yes, another Ode to Cabbage, also known as 'Another Ode to Grandma Julia - Queen of Cabbage'.

Recipe...



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