Back to Nature
The best things in life remain as they have for generations; no new technology or innovations in science can compare to the authenticity of nature in her truest form. Conscientious ranchers across the United States have increasingly set out to bridge the gaps between nature, animals, the environment, and people, by raising grass-fed and grass-finished Angus cattle and delivering high-quality beef right from their ranches to your table.
One such ranch is the Arizona Grass Raised Beef Company. Their Angus cattle are born and raised in the Arizona sunshine and are herded by cowboys on horseback. The cattle spend their entire lives freely roaming and foraging throughout millions of acres of ranchlands.
By looking at a product’s packaging, you can quickly find out whether a ranch near you can make similar claims.
The American Grassfed Association (AGA) operates on a strict set of standards, whereby their certified producer ranchers must pass annual, third-party, on-farm inspections to verify that their cattle are only fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, never treated with hormones or antibiotics, and are raised entirely on the natural terrain.
The trending concept of “old school operations” is actually the way humans have operated, with nature, for generations. With growing health concerns regarding genetically modified feed and the use of antibiotics in corn-fed cattle, many Americans are turning to the past to find guidance for the future.
“Our cattle get to be cattle” said Greg Bernett, co-owner and spokesperson of the Arizona Grass Raised Beef Company. “They have to forage for native grasses, and when the grass is gone in one area, they have to move and forage elsewhere.”
A Cut Above
His company’s claim to fame is its onsite United States Department of Agriculture-approved harvesting plant. The harvesting, butchering, dry aging, and packaging of meat are all done in the company’s boutique processing plant. Having an onsite harvesting plant ensures the company’s standards for humanely processing cattle from start to finish. “We are definitely an anomaly,” said Bernett. “There are only a few of us across the country.”
For over a decade now, there have been many researchers advising the cutback of meat consumption to reduce carbon footprints. Agricultural livestock, however, have been an incredible tool for promoting soil health and contributing to ecosystem regeneration.
According to organizations such as the Savory Institute, and Regeneration International, returning cattle and other ruminants to the land, for the duration of their lives, results in multiple benefits to the environment. The holistic management of free-roaming cattle benefits soil by restoring microbial diversity and by making the land more resilient against flooding and drought—it can also boost the nutrient content and flavor of both livestock and plants.
Following the course of nature is essentially giving back to nature. This harmonious cycle benefits the ecosystem and, ultimately, the people. “The reason why government allows Arizona ranches to ranch,” said Bernett, “is because they want the grass to be eaten, to keep the fire hazards down and to fertilize the land.”
Arizona’s mild climate allows cattle to forage and roam all year long. With year-round sunshine and a temperate climate, Arizona ranchers don’t need to worry about housing grass-raised cattle in barns during the winter, nor toil away planting grass to cope with snow coverage.
No Bones Left Behind
Another consideration is a rancher’s commitment to using as much of every animal as allowed under USDA regulations. For example, the Arizona Grass Raised Beef Company has its own bone broth kitchen, where it hand-fabricates all marrow bones, knuckles, oxtails, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. The broth is packed with nutrients from across the full bone spectrum.
Operations like these can also provide healthy treats for your furry friends, from dehydrated organ meat to the same human-grade ingredients found in traditional jerky.
Feel good about the beef you bring home for your family, and get a taste of the open terrain by supporting your local, American, grass-fed- and grass-finished-cattle ranchers.