Tag Archives: free

Grass Roots

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!! Read on to get all the details!

Grass Roots represents a nice, new and refreshing take on custom delivery meat boxes. They’re a farmers cooperative – meaning they’re a group of small, local, family-run farms who have pooled their products together in a sort of “virtual farmers market,” so to speak, where they sell their proteins. I know, I know… My more avid and beef-educated readers are pounding their fists into their desks in protest, shouting “but Johnny, you told us already that 97% of the 619,000 beef farms in this country are small, family owned operations with an average of 50 head of cattle!” True!

But here’s how Grass Roots is different: They’ve set themselves up as a very niche virtual farmers market, catering to the increasing market demand for grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and turkey, and forested pork. I only tried their beef (with the exception of the jowl bacon and deli ham), so I’ll speak directly to that for a moment.

While all beef is technically “grass-fed” (which can be a confusing turn of phrase), all of Grass Roots’ beef is 100% grass-FINISHED as well. That means no grains are in their diet. They also state on their website that their beef is GMO free, which would make sense, since no grass contains GMO that I know of. Grass Roots cattle are also never given antibiotics or growth hormones. One interesting thing I noticed is that when you order their ground beef, it is sourced from a single animal.

So Grass Roots contacted me and asked if I’d feature their products in exchange for a $100 credit to make my own box. I accepted! Here’s what I ordered:

Everything arrived vacuum sealed and frozen, packed in a really nice box that even contained a tote bag and some dry ice.

Here’s everything nicely labeled for you:

My order went over the $100 credit by about $12 or so, but I figured it was worth it to try everything that looked interesting to me. The first thing I cooked was their jowl bacon.

I loved it. It had a nice texture and a great flavor. Naturally, it went well with a cheeseburger.

But I did preserve the jowl fat for a later date, and even used some to fry up the onions for the top of the burger.

Waste nothing!

I threw the jowl bacon on some hot dogs too. Amazing. I split griddled them in some of that jowl fat first, as you might’ve imagined.

“Garnished with jowl bacon.”

I used some of that jowl fat to cook up a pair of their steaks too – a strip and a rib eye. I have to say, I was really impressed with the quality. If healthy, grass-finished lean beef is what you’re after, then this is definitely the place to get it.

I simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and seared these babies off in a pan with fresh garlic and rosemary.

Since the beef is lean and grass-finished, it cooks faster than usual, and you can go safely under, to somewhere between rare and medium rare.

I ate this with some wasabi, and it was perfect. I’m really looking forward to trying their sirloin, roasts, ribs, skirt and shanks. It’ll give me good reason to use my new Instant Pot.

Okay so the GIVEAWAY! Well, the giveaway is over now, but you can use code NEWYOU50 to get $50 off your first box!!!

And feel free to jump out to my Instagram post, like the photo, tag a friend in the comments, and follow both me and @GrassRootsCoop on Instagram!

B.A.M. Episode 6: Antibiotics, Schmantibiotics

A whole crapload of unnecessary freaking out has happened over ranchers’ use of antibiotics in the raising of animals for human consumption. While some of the alarmist stuff out there might sound scary, in reality it isn’t. So I feel the need to ease some tensions here with this beef advocacy post.

It’s Humane

The judicious use of antibiotics is the humane thing to do for animals that are in need of care. Just like humans, animals need help every so often to fight off a bug. When sick, their ears droop, they cough and have runny noses. They separate from the herd and go off by themselves. Some diseases can be avoided through the use of vaccines, and illnesses can be prevented and combated with the use of vitamins and antibiotics.

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The Law

By law, producers must wait a certain amount of time after administering an antibiotic before an animal can be slaughtered for consumption, to ensure that no traces of the antibiotic remain within the animal. These “withdrawal times” are strictly monitored and vary from 0-60 days based on the substance being administered. That means you can be confident that there are no antibiotics in the meat you buy at stores or order in restaurants. Once the withdrawal time is tolled, that basically means the antibiotic has been completely metabolized and has worked its way out of the animal’s system.

Ranchers must carefully follow directions for administering the proper amounts of antibiotics to their animals, and the FDA tests for traces of antibiotics in meat products as well. There is a mess of paperwork, regular federal inspections and tedious record keeping involved in this entire process. It really is a tightly run ship.

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Let me unpack those generalizations a bit here: Under new FDA guidelines, there are very specific, detailed measurements that are set for antibiotics in feed – authorized by veterinarians – that are called “veterinary feed directives.” These directives outline exactly how long an antibiotic can be used and which illnesses can be treated. They also specify the number of animals that can be treated.

Again, these drugs will only be used to treat, prevent and control disease with the oversight of a veterinarian. Farmers and ranchers will be required to form even stronger relationships with licensed veterinarians in order to receive authorization for the appropriate antibiotic for a specified illness, and for a specific time period. I’d say that creates a pretty well regulated and closely monitored situation.

Additionally, new laws require that little to no antibiotics given to the herd can be in the same class as human medicines. This is done to prevent any potential reduction in the effectiveness of antibiotics that are needed to treat human diseases.

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Even something as simple as a vaccination carries with it a host of guidelines. For example, no shots are allowed in the hip or thigh, as this can damage the sirloin or round cuts of beef.

Ionophores

This is a good time for me to talk about ionophores, actually. Ionophores are a class of antibiotics that are not involved in human health because they work specifically in the rumen (a digestive organ which we do not have).

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease in the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. Ionophores combat these organisms, so they’re technically “antibiotics” from the US standpoint.

In Europe, these ionophores have a different term (anticoccidials), and are not classified as antibiotics like they are here. You may have heard that Europe has much lower antibiotic use in their beef industry. That’s misleading, mainly because Europe does not consider the ionophore to be an antibiotic.

Hormones

Hormones and steroids are often used for growth promotion, digestive aids, and to prevent illness and the later need for antibiotics in a herd. Small pellets are implanted behind the animals ear, under the skin, to release these aids into the animal’s body. Many don’t realize that these are completely metabolized and no traces are found in the beef products at the point of consumption.

The FDA and USDA enforce rules on these things, and scientists have tested them for safety. Additionally, once the use of a hormone has been reviewed and approved, it’s continually re-tested, annually, and reevaluated. It will only stay on the market if it continues to pass all FDA and USDA testing. So this stuff may sound scary, but in reality it’s completely safe according to all scientific testing.

Niche Labels

Despite these numerous safety assurances, U.S. consumer concern about using antibiotics in animal feed has led producers to create niche markets for products with specialty labels. “Never ever” means that the animal was never given an antibiotic, for example, throughout its entire lifetime. Other labels tout the fact that the animal was not given any antibiotics in the last 60 days of it’s life, or from various points of its life cycle onward (for example, no antibiotics administered once the animal is sent to the feedlot).

The USDA makes no claim about these products being safer. They are, however, more expensive to produce, and, therefore, more expensive to buy at the consumer level. Here are a few more:

  • Natural: minimally processed with limited additives.

  • Naturally Raised: No antibiotics and no hormones except for ionophores.

  • Certified Organic: No hormones, and raised on 100% organic feed, which means no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were used to grow the feed.

Conclusion

While our beef producers are wonderful for creating new markets and catering to the odd and unique demands of a diverse population, I felt obligated to set the record straight on the issue of antibiotics with this post.

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In general, the use of antibiotics is more an issue of animal health than human health, but it’s still an important topic to know about.

Remember, beef producers have a vested interest in raising healthy, safe and nutritious food, because they feed themselves and their families with the same beef that you and I eat. They understand that antibiotics are vital for the health of the herd, and administering them is a humane act to safeguard their animals.

Farmers and ranchers are dedicated to providing safe products to the market. It’s their livelihood, after all. Implementing new antibiotics guidelines and working closer with veterinarians are just a few examples of how farmers and ranchers are continuously improving the cattle industry.

There’s really nothing to worry about. US beef products are safe, nutritious and delicious. There are safeguards put into place at every step of the beef life cycle, and even afterward at the slaughterhouse and packing plant, to ensure our safety.

Lawless Jerky

Attorney Matt Tolnick created Lawless Jerky and got the fuck out of the lawyering game. God bless him, and good for him. I’m trying to do the same (though not with jerky, of course), so I know how real that struggle can be.

Anyway this stuff is essentially craft beef jerky, all natural, no preservatives, no nitrates/nitrites, and with real flavors that are different from all the rest of the slimy, waxy, over-processed shit you’re seeing out there today at gas stations and in supermarket check-out aisles around the country. You can actually pronounce the list of ingredients, like onion powder and paprika. No chemical garbage. And all the jerky is made from 100% grass-fed beef, so it’s lean, and only 80-85 calories per serving, depending on the flavor. That’s great for weight-conscious guys like me, and it comes in re-sealable ziplock style packages, so you can lock in the freshness if you don’t devour the entire bag at once.

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How did I hear about this shit? A buddy of mine told me about this stuff and dropped a coupon code on me so I could try a bunch at a good price. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that this code was reserved for military personnel only, shipping only to legit military addresses. I felt like a big, fat dick when the good people at Lawless Jerky contacted me, asking for my bona fides to make sure I was legit military. I’m not. And I’m glad to see that these guys are actually checking up on things to make sure the sanctity of that coupon code only applies to our brave soldiers who sacrifice every day for our pathetic asses. Good on you, Lawless Jerky! And I apologize for the mix-up.

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The gents quickly and painlessly refunded me, but also sent along a sampling of jerky to me anyway, free of charge. I was shocked! I was totally ready and willing to pay full price, as I had heard great things and the flavor descriptions are very enticing.

What are these flavors, you ask?

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Japanese Curry; Pho; Sweet Sriracha; Aloha Teriyaki; Honey Chipotle; and Mango Habanero. HOLY FUCK! How can you try one and not any of the others?!?? I will eat pho flavored shit if served to me on a nice plate… maybe… But seriously, just reading these flavors caused a hair-raising, salivary gland-squeezing, teeth watering (yes… teeth watering) crave to sweep over my entire gustatory system. I needed these things in my gut at once.

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So what’s my verdict? My holding, my decision, if you will? AWESOME! Get these fucking things ASAP. Every single flavor has something special about it that you will want to have again and again. But here’s a breakdown of the specifics of each flavor, incase you’re a big throbbing pussy and you don’t want to go in for the full sampler pack:

Japanese Curry: This definitely tasted exactly like you would expect. I was actually hoping for MORE of that characteristic curry flavor, but I was happy to see the beef shine through as the star of the show. Actually, I think this flavor would be really great on something like chicken or turkey jerky as well. I wonder if the guys at Lawless are thinking about getting into the non-beef stuff as well?

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Pho: All of the right ingredients for pho are represented here in the jerky: cilantro, lime, anise, and other aromatics that you get with a delicious bowl of Vietnamese beef soup. This was a very tasty bag, but not my favorite of the six (which I had expected it to be). The great thing about this flavor is that you can really taste that meaty flavor. Like pho, this jerky is all about the meat itself as opposed to the coating of flavor.

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Sweet Sriracha: Candidate for best flavor of the group, this was the right balance of sweet and spicy together, with a generous coating of flavoring on each piece of beef in the bag. And with the meteoric rise in popularity of Sriracha sauce, this baby should catch on as a big money maker for Lawless. Well played!

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Aloha Teriyaki: This was nice because it had sesame seeds sprinkled on the beef. The flavoring was more of a glaze, as you might expect, as opposed to the dry seasonings on the Sweet Sriracha and Japanese Curry flavors. But it wasn’t wet like some Asian flavored jerky is. This is a comfortable and easy to eat jerky. A definite pleaser for all fans of jerky.

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Honey Chipotle: This was my least favorite of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it was bad by any means. I really enjoyed it. I think, for me, this simply was the most “safe” or “common” flavor of the group, aside from maybe the Aloha Teriyaki flavor. As such, I wasn’t as excited about it, but I still kept reaching in for more. This, like Aloha Teriyaki, is a crowd pleaser as well. Easily scarfed down at parties or while making a long cross country drive.

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Mango Habanero: This was very close to being my favorite. It’s neck and neck with the Sweet Sriracha for me, but my wife gave this one her choice for favorite. It, too, has the right balance of sweet and spicy. Really nice. There’s something magical about this flavor combination. I even love it at Buffalo Wild Wings. Ha!

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So there you have it. I think these would even be good with dipping sauces that you can make at home to match the flavors listed on the bag. So good. Be a man and get them all, and tell your military pals about the deal. I think they’re still offering some deals for active military. Check out their Twitter page for updates and other deals.