What does it all mean? Each cow that is funded has different "tags", while all are organic some are free range, grass-fed, or corn-finished. This section aims to give clear answers to these different types of meat. It describes what is meant by the tag and what (if there are any) the implications are for the taste of the meat.
Why local meats?
By eating locally you support your local community, but also reduce the environmental impact. We pride ourselves in locally sourcing the animals. To give you the best meat that your district has to offer. Such that you see what the local farmers produce and keep your environmental impact as low as possible.
What is a grass-fed, or grass- or corn-finished beef?
Grass-fed cows are solely fed with grass. Canadian winters can be harsh, this means that the grass is not always plentyful. Therefor, during the coldest months some grass fed cows are fed hay. This is usually not more than 4 - 6 weeks per year.
Grass-finished cows, as the name suggests, are fed corn, etc. during their lifetime. However at the end of life they are solely fed grass.Corn finished means that animals are fed corn at the end. This is to fatten them a little.
The implication for your meat is that the meat is less "juicy". The grass fed cows are considerably less fatty. These are leaner cows. This means less marbling (fat veins running through the meat), which in turns means a more difficult baking process. This is not to say that the meat is of a lesser quality.
What is organic, and what does it mean for the meat?
To be certified organic a farm, butcher, or abattoir should follow a set of guidelines. These consist of a list of principles and management standards to which they are to adhere. This proces - of getting your business certified - is not cheap. This means that some smaller farms do not have the means to pursue official certification, but follow their principles nonetheless.
The General Principles and Management Standards Official Document prescribe that:
- No antibiotics are fed to the animals;
- No chemical veterinary drugs for preventative treatments such as hormones or steroids are administered to the animals;
- At all times adult animals (cows) are to have a 6 m2 or 65 ft2 of indoor space, and 9 m2 or 97 ft2 of outdoor space.
In general certified organic implies a standard of welfare for the animals. Farmers can improve on these guidelines but never do less.
Organic does not necessarily imply that the cows are free range. It does not imply that the cows are grass-fed. These are all different variables - each with their own implication.
What is free-range?
These cows are made to roam the vast British Columbia fields. They graze outside as much as possible, rather than being confined to an enclosure 24 hours of the day.
While you may not necessarily taste the difference it makes quite the difference for the welfare. It means that the animals get some exercise which some claim to make the meat more tender.
What is dry- or wet aging?
To achieve the best possible taste in meat it has to age for some time. This can be done "dry" or in the modern "wet" manner. Aging the meat is done to get a better taste.
The process of aging means that the natural enzymes break down the muscle (the meat) tissue. The taste and tenderness depends on the amount of time the meat is aged. However, the downside (especially to dry aging) is that the outer parts of the meat go bad and need to be cut away when the individual cuts are prepared.
So what is dry- and what is wet aging? Dry aging is keeping the meat in a cooled environment but open to the outside air. In wet aging the meat is sealed in some form of plastic. The upside is that this way no meat is wasted. This is exactly why we vacuum pack all our products. To give you the benefit of aged meat without the loss (or waste) of meat.
What does the rating of meat imply?
Canada has thirteen beef grades. The highest categories are A (A), double A (AA), triple A (AAA), and prime. Generally 88% of all meat is of one of these four categories. But since all our meat falls in these categories we shall explain the distinctions between those top four categories.
The main difference between the quality grades is the marbling. This is the fat veins running through the meat. It helps the process of preparing (i.e.: baking, cooking) the meat. The better the marbling the juicier and easier to prepare a cut.
The single A rating means that there are traces of marbling, the double A means that there are slightly more traces, triple A indicates small amount of marbling, Prime indicates the perfect amount for a perfect cut.
However, as explained before, it is nearly impossible to achieve the Prime category with grass fed beef, because the grass keeps the cows lean and the fat percentage low. Keep this in mind when judging your meat.