By Paula Detwiller For the last two decades or so, our hamburger meat has been “beefed up” with filler made from ground-up, ammonia-treated beef scraps, sinew and connective tissue. Formally known as boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT), the food industry says it’s wholesome, safe and delicious. But recent media reports about this “pink slime” are making people take a closer look at what they’re eating. The good news is that the sudden attention has caused supermarkets and fast food chains all over the U.S. to announce they will no longer use pink slime. In South Florida, the list includes Publix, Costco, Winn-Dixie, Target, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club, as well as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, and Wendy’s (which said it never used pink slime in the first place). Beef is Beef? In an effort to fight the consumer backlash that erupted last month, BLBT mega-producer Beef Products, Inc. started a campaign called “Beef is Beef” in which they argue that their products are high quality, safe and NOT pink slime. But even without pink slime, commercially produced beef may not be as wholesome as advertised. Because much of our beef in the U.S. comes from cattle raised in giant industrial feedlots, where the animals are fattened with corn, given growth hormones, and inoculated with antibiotics, many people are choosing grass-fed beef for their burgers and steaks. Make the Switch Look for the “Florida Grass-Fed Beef” booth at the Delray GreenMarket. The vendor is Arrowhead Beef based in Chipley, Florida, and their meat comes from free-range cattle that eat a natural grass and forage diet. No hormones or antibiotics are used. “Cattle that are fed grass, not corn, produce meat that tastes the way it did 40 to 50 years ago,” says Tom Pellizzetti of Arrowhead Beef. “Not only is our beef healthier for you and more nutritious, it tastes better.” Pellizzetti says grass-fed beef has saturated fat levels as low as chicken. He says it is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids (the “good” kind), while typical industrial beef has no Omega 3 and lots of “bad” Omega 6 fatty acid. Beef is beef? You decide.
By Paula Detwiller Did you know that most Florida-raised cattle are shipped out-of-state to be fattened before slaughter? They get crowded into commercial feedlots in Texas, Kansas and other states, given antibiotics and growth hormone, fed a high-calorie corn diet, then slaughtered for sale to supermarkets across America. It’s not a pretty picture. But it’s the way most beef has been produced in this country for the past 40 to 50 years. Arrowhead Beef at the Delray GreenMarket A group of cattle ranchers in the Florida panhandle would like to turn back the clock. They’re raising beef cattle the old-fashioned way—by letting them graze freely on grass. The meat is processed in local facilities and sold directly to Floridians by Arrowhead Beef, a popular Delray GreenMarket vendor. “Our vision is to take people back to the era of regionally produced food, when your mom knew the butcher and the butcher knew the farmer,” said Arrowhead Beef co-owner Tom Pellizzetti. Multiple Health Benefits Florida grass-fed beef is lower in fat and calories, high in healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, and richer in antioxidants than commercially produced beef. It does not contain hormones or antibiotics, and contrary to what many think, it’s not tough. Arrowhead’s steaks are “wet aged” for 28 days, which Pellizzetti says makes them consistently tender. Online Ordering Coming Soon Now in its second year of operation, Arrowhead Beef is re-launching its website to enable easy online ordering. By the end of August, the company hopes to offer its “Summer Grilling Package”—a 12-pound assortment of flash-frozen ground beef, steak, and kabob meat shipped directly to your home. “People who haven’t eaten beef for 25 years tell us this is something they can digest, and they feel better about eating something that’s closer to the land—not perpetuating a faceless industry,” Pellizzetti said. Be sure to look for the sign that says Florida Grass-Fed Beef when the Delray GreenMarket reopens in October! Meanwhile, check out www.floridagrass-fed.com for cooking suggestions, recipes, and the story of Arrowhead’s heirloom breed stock.