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5 Things You Need to Know About Grass-Fed Beef

The organic movement has taken the world by storm. But what’s truly healthy and what’s just hype? The manager of a grass-fed beef farm breaks it down.

BS Top - Maynard Grass Fed Beef

With skeptical, beef-centric films like Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation encouraging the American consumer to question the source of their meat, how do you know what to ask? Mark Maynard, farm manager of the Greyledge grass-fed beef farm, offers five basic queries that will help clear up a lot.

Why is grass-fed beef better?
Beef cattle that are pasture-raised and grass-fed are a healthier and safer source of meat because they are eating a diet naturally suited to their anatomy. As a result, the herd is content, healthy, and the beef is high in Vitamin E, Omega-3s, and conjugated linoleic acid, which some studies have shown has cancer-fighting properties and could lower cholesterol. What’s more, pasture-raised beef is usually free of hormones and antibiotics.

Is it important for grass-fed beef to be certified organic?
No. Often, small, local farmers do not have the capacity to undergo organic certification. My recommendation is to find a farmer you can trust, try the beef, and make it your go-to for healthy, farm-fresh meats.

Where is the beef coming from?
Did your beef come from 3,000 miles away or even another country like Argentina? There is no way to ensure that the beef you and your family consume is healthy and humanely raised without being able to verify its place of origin. Again, it’s best to find a farmer you know and trust. The best farms and purveyors employ a source verification process, in which the record keeping of livestock includes health records, feed records, and genetic history.

Why is beef sometimes flash frozen and does that affect the taste?
Flash freezing is a process when products are rapidly frozen and then vacuum sealed in air-tight packages. This process enriches all the flavors, juices, vitamins, and minerals and allows the beef to keep perfectly for long periods. The beef remains in this condition until it is thawed, ensuring the freshness and quality from when it was originally frozen.

What is the difference between dry-aged and wet-aged beef?
These are the two techniques used for aging beef and they yield very different flavors and textures. Dry-aged beef tends to be richer, more aromatic, and pungent in flavor, and is generally regarded as a superior-tasting beef. Odds are that you have tasted wet-aged beef, as it dominates the commercial market. It also tends to be less expensive, but is no match to the taste of dry-aged beef.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Food & Drink | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Truffles

Difficult to find and divine to eat, there is much to be gleaned from one of nature’s most delicious delicacies.

BS Top - Safina Truffles 

1. Real truffle oil really does exist
There are many products out there purporting to be made from truffles, but unless you’re a label detective, searching for true truffle oil can be very misleading. Here’s a hint: if the label says USDA 100% Certified Organic, you can bet there are real, organic truffle pieces inside.

2. Dogs are the real truffle hounds
While it’s true that pigs have long been used to scare up truffles, they were also greedy little animals who often ate them as soon as they found them. After WWII, truffle hunters started using dogs, which were easier to pack in the car and preferred a meaty snack to the tasty truffle. Interestingly, because the characteristics of the ideal truffle-hunting dog aren’t specific to any one breed, mutts are usually preferred.

3. You don’t have to be a great cook to serve a truffle dish
While I enjoy cooking an elaborate truffle dinner as much as anyone, I get the biggest pleasure out of adding truffle products to everyday dishes like grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, white pizza, and salads.

4. White truffles can’t be cultivated
Both white and black truffles are found in the wild, in parts of the world where they form symbiotic relationships with oak and hazelnut trees. But while recent efforts to cultivate black truffles look promising, no one has successfully grown a white truffle.

5. Not all truffles are created equal
Beware of dishes using fresh truffles in the warmer months—summer truffles (tuber aestivum) are a poor and flavorless substitute for the real thing, black winter truffles (tuber melanosporum), also known as black Périgord truffles. It’s easy to spot the difference: summer truffles are light gray instead of charcoal-colored inside.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Off Topig | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment