Meatless Meat?

Consumer Reports On So-Called “Meatless” Meat

In its October 2019 issue, Consumer Reports published, as usual, an independent,  science-based analysis of the “meatless meat” coming into the market place today. Meatless meat is composed of highly processed vegetable materials and is put forward as a humanly healthier and environmentally better alternative to industrial meat. As environmentalists who got interested in raising grass fed beef as a humanly healthier and environmentally better food, we at St. Gall Farm were curious to read CR’s analysis which we reproduce in part below.

We can deal with the claim that meatless meat a healthier food quickly: noting that meatless hamburger has much more sodium than factory hamburger, Consumer Reports states that, “while the starting materials may be plants, the main ingredients are all highly processed concentrates, oils, and flavors… If you want the health benefits of plants eat them as whole foods with their nutrients and fiber naturally present.”

We want chiefly, however, to publicize Consumer Reports’ analysis of the claim that meatless meat is better for the environment. On examination we see that this claim has traction only against the industrial beef model that has come to dominate contemporary American agriculture: “replacing meat raised in feedlots with plant-based foods is a win for the environment… That’s in part because cows release methane, a greenhouse gas. And industrial beef production creates runoff that contaminates water. Feedlot farming also tends to sicken cows, contributing to the overuse of antibiotics, which breed superbugs and undermine the effectiveness of those medications.”

What is the industrial beef model? Farmers breed cows to produce calves and sell them between the ages of six and 12 months (that’s called a “cow-calf” operation). The calves are then transported to feedlots where they live in close quarters for up to another year and are fed a rich diet of grain (corn, soybean, wheat) rather than their natural food, which is grass. As their stomachs did not evolve to eat grain, digestion produces the excess methane gas environmentalists rightly worry about. Living in close quarters, moreover, the waste from the feedlot does not naturally fertilize a pasture but accumulates into an environmental hazard, while the corresponding danger of infection requires the preventative use of antibiotics as mentioned above. Not mentioned in the Consumer Reports article is the questionable use of growth hormones to accelerate growth.

Thus Consumer Reports concludes, “Switching to grass-fed animals can also be beneficial.” That’s how we do it at St. Gall Farm. We keep a small, closed herd which minimizes the need for medications. We keep our herd in precise balance with the carrying capacity of our pastureland through rotational grazing. We raise the beef naturally from birth to the day of slaughter, which for our Dexters takes about 26 months until they naturally “marble.” Other than a little treat of sweet feed (grain saturated with molasses) to lure them from paddock to padlock, their diet is entirely grass. Grass fed beef is leaner, has more flavor, and avoids the environmental damage caused by the industrial model.

So-called meatless meat is no real solution to the urgent problem of feeding the world. When you bear in mind that almost 2/3rds of the world’s agricultural land is pasture, you realize how much land would be taken out of food production if beef were banned and how much more stress would be placed on the 1/3rd of the world’s agricultural land which is suitable for grain production. The monocultures of alternating soybean and corn rely heavily on glysophate herbicide – dangerous dependence that would be exponentially increased if beef were banned and we had to rely on these plant products to create our meatless meat.

Thus Consumer Reports concludes by quoting an expert from “the EAT Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on environmental sustainability,” that “most of our foods – about 60% – come from soy, rice, maize, and wheat, and we are just perpetuating the system that is based on monocultures [with meatless meat]. I’d rather see a low density grazing system with grass fed beef then to have that land converted to soybeans.” Another expert from Friends of the Earth states that “the hype around meat alternatives distracts from better solutions to climate problems… Rather than creating new products that require more energy, more money, and more processed chemicals, why not invest in a truly sustainable system?” That’s what we’re trying to do here at St. Gall Farm! So order some of our beef and he eat it with pleasure and a better conscience!

Catawba wildflower honey is back!

After the devastating winter of 2017-18, we had to rebuild our apiary from the bottom up. Our colonies survived the winter and have now produced a bountiful spring harvest. Honey is sold by the pound. As a rule, 1 pint of honey by volume equals 1.5lbs. of honey by weight [24oz.] or quart equals 3 pounds [48 ounces]. The going rate now for raw natural honey is $7 a pound. We can sell in plastic bottles for no extra charge but for the Mason jars we require either a $2 deposit or an exchange of a widemouth jar..

1 LB plastic @ $7

2 LB plastic@ $13

3 LB in 1 quart mason jar @ $20 + $2 DEPOSIT on the jar caps or exchange of a widemouth jar

5 LB plastic @ $33

Honey is coming!

The apiary is back! After being wiped out in the dreadful extended winter of 2018, we started 5 new colonies in the spring and have discovered that 4 of them have not only survived but are bustling with life. So we anticipate a wonderful honey harvest at the end of June or early July.

Farm to Fork from St. Gall Farm in Catawba, Virginia: Beef shares now for sale

 

Shares (by percentage) in a Dexter cow are now for sale, which will be harvested in December. It is entirely grass-fed, not grain finished, has never been given any hormones, antibiotics or supplements, and has spent her entire life on farms in Craig County and Catawba, Virginia.

 

With exception of the organ meat, the animal will be processed for steakburger. Price to St Gall Farm is $2.00 per lb. hanging weight, which I estimate to be to be about 400 lbs. (to be determined precisely at slaughter). The hanging weight is the carcass after skinning and evisceration; the carcass will convert after butchering to about 240 lbs. of burger. Your net burger is the percentage of the hanging weigh that you purchased applied to the total amount of burger produced.

 The cow will be processed at Hunter’s Burden in Ironto.  The processing fee is $.90 per pound of the hanging weight for vacuum packed, but only $.50 per pound for tube packaging such as breakfast sausage is sold in. You must inform Hunter’s Burden in advance of your preference and make arrangements to pick up the finished steakburger in Ironto and pay the remaining costs.

 Illustration: Using the above estimates, if you buy 20% of the hanging weight at 80 lbs., you will make a deposit of $48, and pay the remaining $112 at slaughter (for a total of $160) to St. Gall Farm. You then pay $40 to the Hunter’s Burden for processing and tube packaging. Your total cost is thus $200. You net 48 lbs. of packaged, grass-fed naturally raised steakburger for a little over $4/lb.

 You must make a non-refundable 30% deposit to St. Gall Farm with balance due as reckoned on the day of slaughter. To place an order, contact Paul Hinlicky at St. Gall Farm at pehinlicky@hughes.net or 540.384.6069.