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American Grass Fed Beef Newsletter

June,  2004
Circulation 21,963

Welcome to the latest issue of the American Grass Fed Beef Newsletter. In this issue, you will find the following:

* Welcome Wall Street Journal Subscribers
* Excerpt 1 of 4 Parts -  Jo Robinson's New Book Pasture Perfect
* Our Beef Processing Standards
* Meet Richard Placke in Shipping
* Recipes and Great Beef Ideas


The Wall Street Journal recently featured on the front page of their health section. Their article "Take 2 Grass Fed Steaks and Call Me In The Morning" generated a huge response. It was amazing to see our little grass farm in such a prestigious journal. We welcome the many new customers who joined us after reading the article. 


Jo Robinson is an outspoken advocate of a more natural way to raise our livestock. She has authored or co-authored 11popular books, including Why Grassfed Is Best!

Her new book, Pasture Perfect, offers compelling evidence that taking our animals out of factory farms and retuning them to pasture is better for the animals, the environment, family farmers, and consumers. She also has a website, which features grass fed news, the most recent research, and list of suppliers of grass fed products. This article was published in "Mother Earth News" recently. We thought our readers would enjoy Jo's insights so we are offering it to you in four installments over the next few issues.

Part 1 of 4: 

Grass-fed meat and dairy products have less fat and more vitamin E, beta carotene and cancer-fighting fatty acids than factory-farm products. All across the country, farmers and ranchers are returning to this ancient and healthier way of raising animals. Instead of sending them to feedlots to be fattened on grain, farmers are keeping animals home on the range. Cattle graze, lie down, chew their cud, graze—a soothing cycle., repeated day after day—and chickens hunt for seeds and bugs as their ancestors have for eons. 

Although raising livestock on pasture is viewed as a radical departure from modern ranching, it is simply a return to a more balanced system. Ranchers boycotting the feedlots are hardworking pioneers whose goal is to make a living selling their products directly to customers or farmer’s markets, restaurants and natural food stores. By eliminating some of the middlemen they hope to accomplish what can seem like an impossible dream: making a decent living from a small, family farm. Many of the ranchers have another goal, as well. In addition to feeding their families, they want to create a workable, profitable, alternative to agribusiness-as-usual.

After three years of examining this grassroots movement, I’ve become convinced these farmers are on the right track. Raising animals on pasture is better for the animals, ranchers, environment and health of the consumer. It’s one of those rare situations in life that is a win-win-win-win. 


I became interested in pasture-based ranching several years ago when I was writing The Omega Diet with Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos, an authority on nutrition. The book focuses on the health benefits of a Greek Mediterranean diet rich in omaga-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been proven to lower the risk of a long list of diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, allergies, auto-immune disorders, obesity and diabetes.

To get the benefits of omega-3s, most people eat fish, flaxseed, and walnuts or take fish oil pills. Few realize these lifesaving fats are also found in the products of grazing animals. The reason is simple: Omega-3 fatty acids are created in the green leaves of plants, where they are essential for photosynthesis. When animals eat lots of greens they naturally accumulate more of these essential fats in their bodies. For example, steak from grass-fed cattle has two to six times more omega-3s than a steak from grain-fed cattle according to research at the University of Hawaii. When we eat the steak, the omega-3s are passed on to us.

It’s often said, “We are what we eat.” The truth goes deeper. We are also what our animals eat.


As we mentioned in our last newsletter has now acquired an USDA
inspected, processing plant located in Jackson, Missouri. Denise Yamnitz is our office and HACCP manager at the plant. We thought you might enjoy learning about our processing facility vs typical large meat processing facilities from Denise's perspective.

Fruitland American Meat, LLC is a small processing facility located in Fruitland, Missouri, just north of Cape Girardeau. It has been in operation for 25 years serving local producers in its USDA inspected facility. We process approximately 150 head of beef per week and employ approximately 45 people. 

All animals are produced locally and raised on the open pastures of small farms. The animals are individually cared for by farmers who monitor their small herds closely.  These farmers are able to identify each animal, not only by tag number but also by sight and first hand knowledge.

As a local processing facility, we are familiar with all these farmers as well as their farm environments. Knowledge of the farm-environments allows us to track the animal from birth to harvest. Accurate tracking provides a tremendous safety feature that is not found with larger processors.

This tracking is followed all the way through the processing and allows for confident identification of our finished product. In the industrial production of beef, animals are often traded through many different owners or operations from birth to feedlot and the trail of identification is difficult if not impossible to determine.

Every animal that we process is locally raised. This is a confidence and safety issue for our consumers.

The larger slaughter facilities who handle over 400 cows per hour / 24 hours per day have animals that arrive in large shipments from all over the country and even outside the US. The slaughter and processing in these operations are not usually handled in the same plant.

Very often the meat is transferred to three or four different fabrication plants which greatly increases the risk of contamination before it reaches the store to be purchased by the consumer. During this process of transferring, the meat is mixed together in large bins with no way of identifying the final product which may contain the meat of dozens of different animals. 

Fruitland American Meat, LLC is federally inspected by the USDA as are the large processing plants. This is an important issue in comparison to many local processors who do not have USDA inspection and do not have to adhere to established safety guidelines. We have federal inspectors
in our plant at all times to inspect each carcass and to monitor the further processing of all meat to ensure safety.

The USDA requires all plants to have a HACCP Plan. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. This plan is a detailed look at each step in our process from start to finish. By analyzing each step, we can determine if there is any possible hazard that could arise before it happens.

If it is determined that a hazard is reasonably likely to occur there are steps put in place to prevent and monitor that step so that no adulterated product is put into human consumption. Through this program we have several temperature checks, monitoring procedures and testing programs in place that are preformed by In-house Quality Control. This testing includes tests for generic E.coli, E.coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria Monocytogenes. This testing is completed both in-house and by an accredited outside laboratory. 

Our monitoring program includes inspection of the facility, all sanitation, sterilization, manufacturing practices and employees throughout the day. Each specific hourly inspection, temperature and various other control parameters are carefully recorded. This plan allows us to supply, with confidence, a safe and sterile environment in which meat is processed to produce the highest quality product for our customers. 

An additional asset of Fruitland American Meat, LLC that sets us apart from other processing plants (especially the very large ones) is the skill level of our employees. The industrial meat industry changed years ago from the use of skilled union butchers to unskilled minimum-wage laborers to man their processing plants. This assembly line approach focuses on speed and cost cutting. It utilizes a workforce that is cheaper, but for the most part does not speak 
English, has no skills or experience and has a 100% turnover per year. 

At Fruitland American Meat, LLC many of our butchers have been in the meat business for 25 years and even learned the trade from their fathers. These highly skilled and well compensated butchers take pride in the work they do and consider it an art. It is for this reason we continue to dry age our beef plus bone and cut our steaks by hand rather than machine. All our meat is hand trimmed as we value quality over quantity. 

We can simply do a better and safer job by handling each animal and each cut individually. We can assure our customers that we produce the safest, freshest, and highest quality meat available anywhere.


When an order is placed and is being prepared to ship, more than likely it will be packed by Richard Placke. Richard has worked on our ranch and in the packing area for 2 1/2 years. He is quite knowledgeable concerning our grass fed beef operation. His innovative ideas have helped improve our packaging and shipping services. 

Richard has the responsibility of packing our beef orders each week. He makes sure they are shipped out in a timely manner and helps load our orders on the UPS or FedEx trucks. Not only does Richard pack most of the shipments . . . he keeps up with our inventory of beef in the freezer and shipping supplies on hand. 

When he is not packing orders, you will find him out on the ranch repairing fences, rotating and moving cattle and taking care of the basic everyday ranch needs.

Richard is very conscientious employee. He diligently works to ensure orders are packed and shipped out correctly. He is also our surrogate momma cow. Richard has a very tender heart towards animals and is the first to step up and volunteer for any special treatment a particular animal needs to receive. If we have an orphaned calf, Richard supplies the tender loving care and bottle feeding needed to help the animal thrive. 


2 lb. Grass fed beef
Celtic sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 oz. Blue cheese, crumbled
3 T Butter
1 cup Fresh spring greens
1 Small red onion
4-6 lg. Hamburger buns 

Shape the ground beef into 4-6 burgers. Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix the Blue cheese and softened butter Grill burgers to your liking. Meanwhile, toast the buns in the oven until crusty and golden. Spread the buns with the blue cheese butter on both sides, add burgers, top with greens and thinly sliced red onion. 


4 Grass fed Tenderloin Filets
2 T Whole black peppercorns
2 T Whole white peppercorns
2 t Whole yellow mustard seeds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 T Butter (optional) 

Coarsely crush or grind the peppercorns and mustard seeds. Mix with enough olive oil to form a paste. 

Wipe steaks with a paper towel and rub both sides with the peppercorn mixture. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the grill to hot. Lower the heat to medium-hot and place the steaks on the oiled grates. Cook on medium-hot for 5 minutes. Turn 1/4 turn to create crosshatch marks and cook two more minutes. Turn the steak to the other side and cook until done to your liking. Approximately 5 minutes for rare to medium-rare. Remove from the heat. Add a pat of butter to the top and let rest for 5 minutes.

Patricia Whisnant, DVM
Grass Farmer and Veterinarian

P.S.  Feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends, clients and colleagues.

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