Those familiar with our work with heritage meats are acquainted with the factors that influence the quality and flavor of [pasture-raised] beef: there’s the breed, the terrior, the skill of the farmer, how an animal is “finished”, the age of the beef at harvest, how the beef is aged (and for how long), and how it’s butchered. Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is considered by some to be the father of the heritage meat movement. In a conversation with him, he added another factor to the mix: genetics.
Mr. Reese pointed out that one cannot expect high quality meat even from a pasture-raised animal whose family lineage includes generations of feedlot living conditions. One cannot, in other words, take an Angus or Hereford calf from the industrial farm industry, place it on pasture, and bid it yield superior quality meat (neither in the sense of superior nutrition or superior flavor). This comes, instead, from generations of breeding on pasture by a skilled farmer. Put it this way: pedigree is important.
It is a great pleasure to share with visitors to our website and those that follow this blog that much of our current inventory of beef comes from those regarded in the industry as amongst the country’s finest cattle breeders, whose breeding experience extends back–in some cases–through more than 30 years. These dedicated farmers win (and sometimes sweep) the national cattle conventions particular to their breed. It is also exciting to consider the long lineages of heritage cattle breeds which, as in the case of Highland cattle, reach back for a thousand years, allowing the process of natural selection to yield a robust, healthy genetic pool.
Considering the laws of genetics–as in the the law of gravity–the apple falls not far from the tree.