Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.
In 1826 French physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote this phrase which translates more literally into "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are"
When I was first looking at raising cattle in Pennsylvania, this idea of 'You are what you eat' was something I thought a lot about. I wanted to provide beef for my family that was as close to the way that the animals graze as possible and I felt very strongly that we should hold our animals in high regard and treat them with respect.
I started to do some research on feed lots and the best ways to raise cattle. It was clear very early on that many believe the "best" way is the fastest way, that yields the heaviest animal. Why? Its a quicker way to make more money! That's why feed lots require animals to be fed anything available.
Here is a list of some of the things some feed lots feed the cattle that end up in the store or restaurants near you:
Hay (nothing wrong with hay)
Silage (this would be nearest to the sub-herbaceous layer, or just under the surface of the ground where organic compounds are decomposing. Cows never eat this on purpose)
Cereal Grains/Legumes (This produces a nasty strain of e-coli in the digestive tract of the animal)
Sawdust (cows are not termites)
Expired Candy – with the wrappers still on (seriously? They couldn’t unwrap it?)
Crab/Fish Guts (cows are herbivores last I checked)
Cow Parts (most people already know you shouldn’t feed cow parts to cows)
Chicken Poop (Really??)
I was mortified.
This is the stuff I was buying and feeding my family. As I dug deeper, I learned that to even keep an animal alive with this type of diet, they had to be fed constant antibiotics with their feed. Then, GMOs were invented and used to supplement. Nowadays, growth hormones are typically implanted into the animals ears and disperse hormones every couple of hours, and the FDA says they are perfectly safe. Whatever your feeling or opinion is on that is fine, but I think we keep getting further and further away from natural grazing. That means the beef we get isn't as it used to be. And it didn't sit well with me.
So, we decided to do something radical.
One of the first places we visited and interviewed to become our butcher said we were crazy and leaving a lot of money on the table. Feed lot, and even finished on grain and supplemented with hormones animals finish (go to butcher) in about 10-12 months. They weigh more. And since beef is sold by the weight, they can fetch a higher price.
A quick pause here, because I am definitely *NOT* saying that industrial feed lot cattle is the same as lets say craft beef-- there are farmers out there who raise and harvest their own particular grain to finish their animals on and that kind of beef has its own unique taste, texture and value. But it's not what I wanted. I wanted NO GRAIN, all grass foraged whenever possible. In the winter I feed stored grasses I've harvested. Because you are what you eat.....but I digress.
Fast forward and here we are! A few years later and we are raising grass fed, grass finished beef for our friends and neighbors! We feel blessed to do what we do.
I personally speak with every person who buys a quarter, half or full animal from us and that is truly the key part of this business. If you 'are what you eat', you should know where your food comes from and who has raised it and what they believe.
At Blue Dog Farms that's me, Dan Van Nice, my wife Giana and our four kiddos. We are proud to serve you and answer all your questions.
Contact us anytime by:
Sending us an email.
Following us on Facebook.
Following us on Instagram.
Checking out our website
or picking up the phone to text or call at: 717-814-2744