Mother Nature’s Meat – Hearst Ranch Beef at Local Whole Foods Markets

courtesy of Whole Foods Market

When you bite into a juicy cheeseburger, do you think about the source of the beef?

When the cheese is oozing out of the sandwich and the juice drips down your chin, do you wonder about the health of the cattle that gave you this meat? Or how far the harvested beef had to travel to get to the store where you bought it?

Me neither. I simply enjoy a tasty burger. Or a nice juicy medium-rare steak. I’ve been doing it for years.

And then, like a lot of Americans, I watched Food 101 and I read Fast Food Nation. Blecch, right? Never eating meat again. Until the next time I was on a long road trip and McDonald’s was the only establishment for miles where one could buy a quick bite to eat and keep going. Sigh.

But when I am grocery shopping, I do pay attention to the quality and sources of the foods I buy. I have gone out of my way to visit small markets to buy organic chicken and hormone free beef. I don’t do this all the time (because hello, hate traveling east of Calabasas if it’s not totally necessary) but when I do I always feel better about sinking my teeth into a perfectly grilled steak.

During this season, I can just go to Whole Foods Market in Thousand Oaks, because it is among 18 Southern California locations that will be selling organic antibiotic-free beef from locally raised grass-fed cattle at Hearst Ranch. Yes, the same Hearst as in Hearst Castle. Right up the coast. It’s as fresh, healthful, and eco-friendly as you can get living here in the Conejo Valley.

Photo by Richard Field Levine

Photo by Richard Field Levine (click to visit site)

I sampled ground beef ($9.99/ lb for 7% fat and $7.99/lb for 15% fat) and top sirloin ($13.99/lb). Both were very flavorful, and I discovered that there are a few things to remember when cooking grass-fed beef. From the Hearst Ranch website:

-Grass-fed beef cooks about 30% faster than conventional beef because it is leaner and richer in healthy fats, which melt quicker at a lower temperature than fats in conventional beef.

-Because grass-fed meats cook quickly, marinating them is a good way to add moisture and interesting flavors.

The burgers were juicy and the steak was delicious, but the best part about digging into these meals was that I knew the beef was just better.  And that peace of mind is worth it. Hearst Ranch beef will be sold at 18 SoCal Whole Foods Markets through August 2013.

I received a complimentary sampling of Hearst Ranch beef to facilitate this feature but no further compensation. Yes, as it turns out, I will work for meat.