Talk about a waste of time on top of a waste of money. Three senators recently sent a letter to the USDA leadership to protest that a paltry $65 million from an agribusiness support fund of $307 billion (i.e., the 2008-2012 U.S. Farm Bill) went to groups trying to supply tax-paying customers the healthy, safe, nutritious food they demanded from local American farmers. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their “serious misgivings” regarding the new USDA initiative, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” (KYF2). They charged that the program’s measures were “completely detached from the realities of production agriculture” and accused it of prioritizing locovore markets “at the expense of rural communities with documented rural development needs.” Am I missing something here? According to the 2000 census, nearly 80% of the U.S. population (i.e., eaters) live in urban areas - wouldn’t it make sense to focus our resources there? Though farms may be located in rural areas, their markets are by and large where the people are - in cities. The major beneficiaries of government funding to date have not been farmers but big business and shareholders. Government payments that facilitate production below the market value help the company, not the producer.
Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN!
This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
Kinderhook Farm, by way of Marlow and Daughters butcher shop, was the next to step in the ring, going up against a supermarket cut in the Village Voice’s Battle of the Dishes: Grass-fed Local Steak versus Supermarket Steak. The purpose of the taste-off was simple: while the animal welfare and environmental benefits of grassfed are clear, does it really taste better than conventional?
It was barely a contest as grassfed leveled a knock-out on its opponent. From the beginning, the Kinderhook steak was a stand-out: “It [conventional] had a grayish cast, while the steak from Marlow and Daughters was a rich brownish red, with a firm texture and cream-colored fat.” Kinderhook then went on to a swift and decisive finish, notably for practically cooking itself and developing a gorgeous brown sear, knocking the supermarket steak out of competition.
Chef Bill raves about 100% grassfed beef’s “great, deep beef flavor.”
The Village Voice’s Sarah DeGregorio enthuses, “This is probably how beef used to taste, before we all got used to flaccid, fatty, vaguely-tasty-but-characterless industrial meat.”
Don’t we all want a winner on our dinner plate?