Raised in the shadow of Northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains, fourth-generation rancher Cory Carman’s beef is an Angus-Hereford cross with a robust, beefy flavor. Free from all chemicals, the beef from Carman Ranch benefits from rich, volcanic soil, which makes the meat taste — as Cory describes it — “complex and multi-layered.” You can find Carman beef at Portland chef Greg Higgins’s restaurants, and at Seattle chef Renee Erickson’s notable steakhouse Bateau.
When Cory Carman was a young girl growing up on her family’s ranch in mountainous Wallawa County, Oregon, her grandmother taught her to ride horses and to not think twice about a woman running a cattle farm. Today, Cory is the fourth generation of her family to raise cattle on their land, and she explains that it was only once she returned to Wallawa County — after spending four years at Stanford and several more on Capitol Hill — that she realized “just how amazing it is that our ranch has been passed down through women.”
Cory graduated from high school in Wallawa County, Oregon with 17 other students in her class. After graduation she headed off to Stanford, where she picked a public policy major because she wanted to improve the food system — and the world. Somewhat to her surprise, she found that many of her college friends were vegetarians, who’d opted out of meat once they learned about factory farms and feedlots. Their critique of conventional meat lodged in Cory’s mind, but she headed off to DC to work on policy. After a few years, however, she realized that if she really wanted to help improve food, she needed the real ranch experience her parents and grandmother had had before her. She headed back to Oregon, bent on building a new supply chain — “totally outside of feedlots.” And that’s exactly what she did, raising grass-finished beef that’s both tender and rich in savory flavor.
Since Cory returned more than ten years ago, Carman Ranch has been holistically managed to produce delicious, grass-finished beef. In the first few years after she came back to Wallawa County, Cory connected with other farmers who were paving the way for a totally new food system — one built on healthy soil and regenerative practices. She joined the founding Board of the Grass-Fed Alliance, and now, in her rare free time away from her polyculture fields and native rangeland, works collaboratively with other grass-focused ranchers across Oregon and
In the decade-plus that she’s been back, Cory has seen her family ranch — which lies at the edge of the Blue Mountains and the Zuma Prairie, North America’s largest bunchgrass ecosystem — transform entirely. Her focus on rotational grazing and diverse polycultures has reversed soil erosion, brought in wildlife including a resident herd of elk, and made the flavor of her grass-finished beef more rich and complex. How she treats her soil, Cory says, is at the root of it her farm’s restoration story: “It underpins all life. One of the most profound opportunities we have as ranchers is to recognize the connection between soil health, animal health, and human health.”