Monday, October 18, 2010


I have written before about my desire to have us escape the industrial food complex to the extent possible.  Well, with the help of Urban Harvest, Houston's main farmer's market (formerly known as Bayou City Farmer's Market), we got to take another step: I bought beef directly from the rancher who raised it.  Grass-fed beef, from Olde World Farms in Montgomery County, 86 miles from here. 

Sign for the market, complete with gang graffiti.  The market is held every Saturday morning in a parking lot north of Richmond Drive.  It's worth the trip!!
In other words, the Saturday before last, I actually got to shake hands with a small business entrepreneur who is defying the massive pressures of industrialization and raising his own animals for slaughter.  This is virtually unheard of in America today.  Grass-feeding is equally rare: not even Whole Foods carries grass-fed beef (not in Houston, anyway).  Everything is corn fed, but cattle didn't evolve to eat corn.  They evolved to graze.

As it was my first purchase for us, I chose a couple of ribeye steaks and some ground beef:
As I was preparing it, I caught a scent that registered with me, but I knew I had not smelled it in decades.

The ground beef was so lean that I had to use an egg as a binder in making it into burgers.
Was it good, you wonder???  Worth the price differential?

G O D ! !

It was out of this world, and almost out of my memory.  The last time I tasted meat that good was... 1972?  Or 1975 at the latest.  My paternal grandfather had grown up extremely poor and, when he finally attained a measure of financial security in his later years, he enjoyed splurging on good steaks.  Occasionally he and my grandmother would have enough to treat us as well.  That which we ate tonight was equivalent to the best beef money could buy almost forty years ago.  And I bet that was the difference then, eh?  I bet that, thirty-five or forty years ago, the farmers had not yet migrated to industrial practices that involved chronic corn-fattening.  And now I've been lucky enough to have some more beef of that type, after all these years.  This is cool.

Subsequent to shopping at the Urban Harvest market, I discovered a producer who is even closer to us, the Law Ranch Cattle Company in east Harris County (it's very hard to ferret out these little guys above the din of commercialization... it takes time to search for them).  I like their authentic website style, and they also appear to be fans of Polyface Farms and the sustainability practices advocated by its famous owner Joel Salatin.  I'm going to try them next, but one thing is perfectly clear to me at this point: unless I'm starving and/or broke, there's no way I'm going back to corn-fed beef.

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