I follow a couple of rules – never leave a good steak unattended on the grill and don’t mix anything with expensive liquor except a couple of ice cubes. Those rules can be combined into one – have a glass of good scotch in your hand while standing next to your grill and savoring those well-marbled thick cut steaks seasoned with only salt and pepper cooking to perfection. You wonder where I am going with this and whether it has anything to do with cattle markets.
Just this week I read an article about “Nurture Ranch 1 Steer Ground Beef.” The claims for this ground beef product were quite interesting and for many reading the article, probably better described as controversial. The “1 steer” was “100% grass fed – no feedlots, confinement, antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs, and “was a quality ranch breed like those found in steak houses.” The ground beef from that steer is priced at $9 per pound. I am sure there are consumers who are both willing and able to pay $9 for “1 steer ground beef.”
A few years ago the question was raised about growing demand for ground beef and whether the industry could supply that demand. In conversation, I somewhat facetiously made the comment “we can always grind the entire steer,” adding that I wasn’t sure consumers would be willing to pay the higher price required for grinding steaks. Of course, I was assuming the steer in question was grain finished since 98% of steers and heifers marketed are grain-fed. And, while I do enjoy a good hamburger, I also enjoy a good steak – but not as a hamburger patty! It’s somewhat like sorting calves – some are worth more than others and should be sold as a separate lots if you are to capture their higher value.
The U.S. beef industry is the most efficient producer of quality, wholesome, safe beef in the world. I am sure there is demand for that “1 steer ground beef,” but let’s not give the other 98% of U.S. beef which is grain-fed a black eye in order to market 2% of the beef. Going back to my two rules mentioned earlier – while I like ground beef, I prefer my steak as grilled to perfection as a steak. Call me a purist!