The beauty and bounty of Northern California’s lush Marin and Sonoma County are no secret to culinarians across the world. Beautiful cheeses, world class wines, organic and truly authentic natural specialty products all make their home in this region. They are produced here. And I would be remiss to exclude some of the highest quality milk and dairy products, rich with butterfat and full of flavor. It is the bounty of some of the happiest cows in the country. If they could talk, they would tell us so.
The cows live on literally million-dollar view properties on multi-generational family farms in the rolling hills of California, with access to fresh and clean pasture and feed. They are handled humanely throughout their life and are deeply loved and cared for by the farmers. They produce rich milk for dairy and cheese production, but there is another chapter to their story. The story continues with Mindful Meats, Organic and Non-GMO clean beef from California.
Del Monte Meat Company, The Chefs Warehouse meat division in Northern California, is proud to feature Mindful Meats and their vision for better beef from this bountiful California region.
‘Along the way, meat people told us, ‘Good luck trying to get a good product out of a dairy cow says. But the taste has been better than expected. It has a robust, mature meat flavor.’
-Claire Herminjard, CEO, COFOUNDER, AND BOARD DIRECTOR of Mindful Meats
You see, these cows are known as dual purpose animals. They support the supply of uniquely flavored beef for the Mindful Meats program. Mindful Meats, headed up by Claire Herminjard, pride themselves in sourcing dual purpose animals. This means the animal has been raised for more than one purpose. Their cows live long healthy lives as organic, pasture raised dairy cows and at the end of their lives provide organic beef for the Mindful Meats program. One cow provides an average of over 80,000 pounds of food during her lifetime, including milk, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, and beef, as opposed to their counterpart, the beef animal that provides only about 600 pounds of beef in total. Mindful cows live longer lives than their beef cattle counterparts. A Mindful Meats dairy cow lives an average of 6 years while a beef animal is generally allowed to live until 2 years of age.
The most common breeds are Holsteins and Jerseys. Holsteins are known for their copious production of milk, and Jerseys are known for their butterfat. They often get a cross between the two. There can also be heritage breeds such as Montebeliarde, Danish Reds, Swiss Brown, Aryshire. Each breed is unique.
Mindful Meats cows live long full lives out on pasture. They are never transferred to a finishing lot or feed yard. They graze the pastures when they are green and during the off season they are supplemented with farm grown silage (fermented grass), alfalfa, and hay. The milking cows are given a snack of mixed grain when they come into the barn for milking. They need the extra calories from the mixed grain to lactate as producing milk is very calorie intensive. All of the pastures the cows graze are certified organic. All of the additional supplemental feed is certified organic and DNA tested for GMOs.
Humanely handled until the end, the day their number is called and when they are sent in to the harvest facility, a Mindful Meats team member is there on the ground to pick the cow out and look each cow in the eye and say “thank you” as they load onto the trailer. It is a core part of the company; to give gratitude and respect to the animals.
So what does this do for the beef? Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO verified, Mindful Meats beef is unique to anything else on the market. In fact, In 2013, Mindful Meats became the first Non-GMO Project Verified Beef in the United States.
As for the breeds, the Holstein is known for their sweetness in flavor; the Jersey for their butterfat. This translates to the beef. The beef is sweet, buttery and rich with a clean finish. Raised on pasture and never transferred to a finishing lot, the beef has similar positive nutritional qualities to 100% grass-fed, including high Omega 3s, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). However, the flavor is not the same as grass fed. The flavor of Mindful Meats beef is sweeter and more buttery because of the breeds and variety in the lifetime diet of their cows.
Being dual purpose cows, Mindful Meat cows are allowed to live longer and to fully mature. More refined than just “tender”, Mindful Meats beef is “mature” like a fine wine or cheese. The beef takes on delicious intricate qualities when allowed to age beyond 2 years old. One of the most important defining characteristics is the intramuscular marbling that happens in their beef. A young cow simply hasn’t had the time to develop deep, intramuscular marbling. This form of marbling is what makes the difference in every bite of Mindful Meats.
Mindful Meats is virtually integrated with full transparency with the USDA. Del Monte and fans of the program can easily follow the process, from the sourcing to the harvest to the plate; raised in Sonoma and West Marin County, harvested in Petaluma, CA and enjoyed by diners all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Del Monte customers can tell the difference, and they take pride in offering what is truly local, truly organic, verified non-GMO, and representative of beef that makes a difference. Chefs come to us looking for old world flavor and texture. This is beef the way it used to be. People notice the chew factor (not tough, but textured). The flavor is delicious, especially for the old world educated chef who learns how to cook it to take advantage of the old world flavor. Mindful Meats beef makes a great, fresh burger, a feature item of Del Monte. It’s a favorite of many customers, including The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay and Stanford Hospital, in Stanford, CA. They want a burger that makes a difference.
Mindful Meats and Del Monte Meat company accomplish this together.