We just purchased a side of grass fed beef from Shagbark Mountain Cattle in Maryland/ West Virginia. It is amazingly tender and absolutely delicious. John and I happily enjoyed our rib steaks the other night, especially since we'd been eating only chicken since ordering our beef a month ago. The flavor of this grass-fed beef is excellent, in my opinion, with an incredible tenderness.
Finally, we've found beef that meets the high standards we're used to after being spoiled by John's family's grass fed beef in Kentucky. We previously bought beef from another farm, in Virginia, a half one summer and last fall, but the results were not as good. The meat had a gamy taste to it and while the ground meat was good, the steaks and roasts tended toward dryness. Even rare, the meat was not as tender or flavorful as we expected.
My friend Anne (who got me into Nourishing Traditions in the first place ... but that's another story) found the Shagbark Mountain through EatWild.com and spoke at length with the rancher before placing an order for a whole animal, which we split.
According to their listing, Shagbark Mountain raises "Black Angus and Simental cattle on over 200 acres of clover, broome and orchard grass—naturally without hormones or chemical fertilizers." We enjoyed meeting the owner and his sons, who kindly showed our kids the goats, kids, sheep and donkey near the office while we completed the transaction.
We ended up with 191 pounds of meat, and 5 pounds of organ meats. The price per pound, packaged in the freezer, came to $3.87. (Hanging weight price was $2.85/ lb.) That's ground meat to sirloin steak, and everything in between. I didn't even include the soup bones and suet in that price calculation, although the butcher delivered them as promised.
There are several grass-fed beef ranches near us, but we're so pleased I expect we'll order from Shagbark Mountian again, if we don't have our own cattle by then. We've even recommended them to our friends already -- some things are too good to keep secret.
I'm looking forward to marinating and grilling and spicing and roasting our meat over the coming months. My friend Anne recommends the Grassfed Gourmet cookbook, which I will buy as soon as the budget allows.
What's your favorite source for grass fed beef? I'd love to hear from you!