Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Shasta City Market of Carnage

How do you know where your beef has come from? Where do you go to find good beef from cows that have been treated humanly? Any ideas?

When I was traveling through northern California last month, in the shadow of Mt Shasta, not far from a Stewart Springs where the locals come to gab about politicals sitting naked in a Turkish style sauna, I found the town of Shasta City.

At some unholy hour of the morning, I stopped by the grocery market before it was open. I was enroute to visit my family in Cali and had pooped out and slept the night in my car parked along some street. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed three guys (boogie men from my nightmare) wearing long white lab coats huddled near the back of the store. It looked really suspicious. I noticed they pulled some kind of fleshy red carcass from a big white van, so I kind of slunk down in my seat then heard the sound of a chainsaw. I felt like I was an extra in some slasher movie. I wanted to duck and run, like the woman from this 80's Boogie Man film. Those of you who know me well can easily imagine me as a sleep-deprived woman running around Shasta City like this:

The crime scene

A closer-up shot

The instrument of evisceration


Come to find out, this early arrival of beef freshly cut right out the back door of the market -though a bizarre sight to a travel-weary visitor- was a GOOD thing. This meat came from Prather Ranch, who after researching, I discovered is one of the first retailers to become "HUMANE CERTIFIED." A designation by the Humane Farm Care organization.

Click on the link because it will give you an answer to the question: Where can I buy meat that I know came from humanely treated animals?

May 11, 2006 – Prather Ranch Meat Company, a retailer of organic, sustainably produced, pasture-raised beef, buffalo, pork, lamb and vitellone located at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza, is the first retailer in the Bay Area to be "Certified Humane." It follows New York retailer, D'Agostino, becoming the second U.S. retailer to commit to selling products that have been "Certified Humane" by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the Virginia-based non-profit organization that certifies humane treatment of farm animals.

No synthetic herbicides and pesticides have been applied to feed crops for a minimum of three years. The majority of feed consumed is grazed forage from our pastures. We finish our cattle on a diet of organic hay, organic barley and organic rice.
Prather Ranch

The cattle drink pure mountain spring water that is routinely tested for the presence of non-indigenous trace elements.

Interesting sidenote: Prather Ranch is ALSO known for genetically engineering cows to be more tender... can they do this for the males species in general? What do you think?

Cows with Tender Genes

Press release:
Prather Ranch, in its never-ending commitment to provide their customers with the most tender and tasty beef on the market today, has implemented the use of new technology available in the beef industry. The ranch began DNA testing in 2004, using GeneSTAR tests for the tenderness gene marker in their herd sires. Those bulls that test positive for the tenderness trait are retained in the herd as breeding stock. Their offspring are more likely to produce meat that will be tender. This test has been validated by the National Cattle Beef Evaluation Consortium.

In order to evaluate meat tenderness, the GeneSTAR Tenderness evaluates the genes of Calpain and Calpastatin. Prior to this test, bulls were evaluated by their ability to produce offspring that had the characteristics of tender meat. This process included following their offspring that possessed the characteristics of tender meat. This process included following their offspring through the life cycle which would take a period of years. The GeneSTAR test allows for selecting sires that already carry these positive gene markers.

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