Harlow Cattle Company raises premium quality Angus/Hereford cross cattle on 320 acres of expansive prairie in central Pierce County, Washington. The cattle are thoughtfully raised, quietly handled, and roam freely on the prairie grasses and lush bottomland pastures of the ranch.
100% grass fed for their entire lives, these cows have been treated extremely well, as evidenced by how calm they are when owner Becky Harlow Weed walks up and pats them. (We've seen it in action!)
Harlow Cattle Company is operated by one woman, Becky. She's an extremely experienced rancher who's willing to put in long hours because she loves ranching -- it's a lifestyle. She worked the ranch with her father as a child, and returned years later to run it on her own. Her fierce devotion and passionate energy has yielded some of the finest cattle in the state.
Becky never uses growth hormones on her cows, uses antibiotics only an on as-needed basis -- never unnecessarily, or at subtherapeutic levels -- and all her grasses are pesticide- and GMO-free.
In her own words:
"I have no hired help running the ranch and cattle operation. Day and night, rain and shine, 24x7, 365 days a year, from bucking hay to vetting calves, weighing steers to mending fences, round-ups to bookkeeping, mud and manure, dust and dirt, I do all the ranch work myself.
Mark, my husband, does tractor work, fencing projects, carpentry projects and generally does the "heavy lifting" for the operation on weekends.
Every rancher is first a grower of grass. My grasses are plentiful and sustainable, my cattle pampered. Yes, I’m proud of it and love it both."
Harlow's 100% grass-fed and grass-finished cattle produce richly-marbled steaks that are lower in saturated fat than grain-fed beef, but higher in healthy omega-3 fats and other natural nutrients.
Harlow beef is dry aged, a process that lends richer flavor and tenderness. Apart from a few niche butcher shops and restaurants it's almost impossible to buy dry aged beef anymore.
This is truly premium beef that you simply can't find at any grocery store.
"The experience of taking my first bite was eye-opening. It had wonderful marbling of the fat, slight earthy overtones, and a distinct sweetness in the finish of each bite. Not only was this beef much better than the grass-fed beef I’d had before, but it was also different from any other beef I have tasted.
I know you will enjoy this steak. For my part, it completely changed the way I think about grass-fed beef."
— Eric Floyd, Executive Chef at the Washington Athletic Club
Grass-fed, grass-finished beef is delicious, make no mistake about it. Speaking of mistakes, many people who write-off grass-fed beef make the mistake of preparing it the same as the grain-finished beef that they're so used to. At Crowd Cow, we've found more often than not, that the difference between a great grass-fed steak and a sub-par one all comes down to knowing how to cook it correctly.
At Crowd Cow, we've had the good fortune to taste a lot of grass-fed, grass-finished beef -- from different cuts and different producers. We've found that grass fed beef usually takes 25-30% less time to cook. You might be used to cooking your rib steaks 4 minutes per side, but for grass-fed beef, you'll want to only give it 3 minutes. Better yet, try sous-viding your grass-fed steaks or preparing them with a reverse-sear.
Lastly, consider a marinade or rub. These can often overwhelm more-mellow grain-finished beef, but are perfect for rounding out the flavor of grass-fed beef, and marinades in particular are helpful in keeping the meat moist, preventing it from overcooking and drying out.
A cow's natural diet is grass -- not grain. They are ruminant animals, meaning they have an entire stomach devoted to breaking down foraged grasses.
Their physiology is poorly adapted to eating grain. Yet almost all the beef you can buy in America is grain fed, because that's the cheapest and fastest way to increase the size of the animal.
Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat than grain-fed, but higher in healthy omega-3 fats. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass. Grass-fed beef also has higher levels of beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and other healthy nutrients.
Author Michael Pollan wrote in the New York Times about what happens to cows that move from the pasture to the feedlot and fed grain:
"Perhaps the most serious thing that can go wrong with a ruminant on corn is feedlot bloat. The rumen is always producing copious amounts of gas, which is normally expelled by belching during rumination. But when the diet contains too much starch and too little roughage, rumination all but stops, and a layer of foamy slime that can trap gas forms in the rumen. The rumen inflates like a balloon, pressing against the animal's lungs. Unless action is promptly taken to relieve the pressure (usually by forcing a hose down the animal's esophagus), the cow suffocates.
A corn diet can also give a cow acidosis. Unlike that in our own highly acidic stomachs, the normal pH of a rumen is neutral. Corn makes it unnaturally acidic, however, causing a kind of bovine heartburn, which in some cases can kill the animal but usually just makes it sick. Acidotic animals go off their feed, pant and salivate excessively, paw at their bellies and eat dirt. The condition can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio."
Whew. What's more, to prevent their cows from getting sick, feedlots pump them full of antibiotics which lead to more resistant strains of bacteria which inevitably leap over to affect humans as well.
Factory farming is a ruthless, repulsive practice, and is unfortunately the norm when it comes to grain-fed beef. You are what you eat and poorly treated cows are bad for all of us.