At The Farm GateBeefing up the freezer stocks
Every summer, we defrost the 30-cubic-foot chest freezer, pulling its contents and removing the frosty ice chunks in preparation for the annual supply of beef from our family farm. We receive up to 200 pounds of steaks, roasts and ground products by August, all harvested, processed and frozen by our local family butcher. Since my ability to chew ground beef, I have dined on “freezer beef,” or local-sourced beef in bulk quantities equivalent to a quarter, half or whole animal raised on the farm.
On our farm, we raise cattle like Grandpa did – from birth on both grass and grain, providing a combination of flavor and quality that is signature of American-raised beef. The main difference: We raise beef more efficiently with improved genetics and growth technologies. Within the last 60 years, the U.S. beef industry has reduced emissions per pound of beef by more than 40% while producing 60% more beef per animal, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. A top protein source, beef also supplies 10 essential nutrients like iron, zinc and B-vitamins. And cattle farmers care, making beef a meal choice to feel great about.
My family does. On weekends, a couple chuck roasts smoke low and slow for nine hours for a barbecue-inspired meal. I equally love my time-saving microwave cooker, which takes a pound of ground beef from frozen to browned in 7.5 minutes for a quick taco meal. Under-rated for nutrition, ground beef contains eight times more Vitamin B12, six times more zinc and more than two times more iron compared to chicken.
While we may feast on our own farm-raised beef, so do those who shop grocery stores or dine at restaurants. We raise only a couple calves to process locally for freezer beef. Most of our cattle are sold at market, destined as beef for restaurants and grocery stores, providing the nutrition-packed protein for those who lack the space or desire to buy beef in bulk.
While grocery store shoppers have the option to buy certain cuts repeatedly, we live on the variety and quantity of steaks, roasts and ground products that cut from a quarter of the animal. That means the deep freezer in the garage dictates home-cooked meals around our house. We welcome the annual summertime replenishment of freezer beef, which resets the menu.
About the author: Joanie Stiers farms with her family in west-central Illinois, where they grow corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and cover crops and raise beef cattle, backyard chickens and farmkids.