The longer an animal lives and the more work it does, the more flavorful its meat becomes. (Adam Danforth, author of Butchering, and as quoted in Modern Farmer, 20 January 2015)


In our work with heritage meats–every bit as distinctive as a fine wine or craft ale–it is ironic that we have come to adore (even revere) the burger. Given the choice between an 8-ounce steak and a half-pound ground beef patty on a dignified bun–cooked at most to a medium temperature–it’s the later, hands down. No ketchup, no mayonnaise, no mustard. Just generously seasoned with salt and pepper.

Danforth’s above insight justifies my “low-brow” sensibilities. What parts of a beef become ground beef? It’s the gritty, tough muscles like the chuck or the round. Those are the muscles getting the work-out: “The longer an animal lives and the more work it does, the more flavorful its meat becomes,” (ibid.). But what about the other side of the equation, the question of maturity?


Since our inception as a company, we’ve been looking to the language of viticulture to describe the re-discovered territory of heritage meats. Terroir is one such term borrowed from wine country. When used in conjunction with meat, it describes the reality of a geographic taste in pasture-raised beef, lamb, turkey, or pork.

This week, meet another borrowed term, ripe with meaning: Late Harvest. This verbiage is used by baccharians to denote a wine made from grapes–long past their prime–whose intensified sugar content yields deliciously sweet desert wines, such as a Late Harvest Riesling. The same phenomena occurs in the flesh of a mature animal: the sweet intensification of flavors yielding beef that is deeply rich, with layer upon layer of complexities.


Next week, with Dreamcatcher Farm, we bring to slaughter 10-year-old Dexter beef, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Dexter is an Irish cattle breed (Europe’s smallest, in fact). It’s 100% pasture-raised, feeding on clover grasses. We are pleased to begin using the language of “Late Harvest” in conjunction with what I hope will be some fabulously tasting beef to enrich your celebrations of the Saint of Ireland on March 17.

The beef will begin making its way to West Michigan’s finest restaurants toward the end of this month and in the first part of March. A very limited amount will be offered for sale first to our Pioneer Members and then to the general public though our website. And if you want a fighting Irish’s chance for this Late Harvest Irish Dexter beef, become a Pioneer Member today by clicking here.


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