This week, we will be talking about an intriguing technology in the agriculture and food science space, cultured meat aka real meat, but made in a lab. Alex Shirazi is a startup advisor, author, and podcast host who has a deep understanding of the cell-cultured meat industry. Alex has advised many startup businesses, some of which are seeking to develop new cultured meat technologies. He has also built The Cultured Meat Symposium which is aimed at bringing together leaders in the cell-cultured meat world. Alex also co-wrote a book titled “Where do hotdogs come from?” which is a kid’s book about cellular agriculture and the future of meat production. In our interview, Alex and I will chat about his background, the processes of making cultured meats, if this technology is a replacement for normal meat or if it’s just another choice for consumers. We’ll also dive deep into how taste and texture are extremely important when developing these meats and how the meat proteins and fats are created. I went into this episode knowing very little about this technology and learn so much from Alex and I think you will too.
Check out Alex’s book and podcast at the links below:
The production process of cultured meat. Source: Tuomisto (2018). This figure represents the three main stages of the production of cultured meat. First, stem cells are taken from muscle tissue or embryos and are expanded and then differentiated into muscle cells. Second, these cells are further grown in a bioreactor to increase their number. Third, the cells are then transferred to a scaffold to grow these into muscle fibres and larger tissue.
This week, we will be talking to Neil Dudley from Pederson’s Farms, a direct-to-consumer meat company. Pederson Farms’ first product was a no added sugar, no hormones, no added nitrates, no antibiotics, vegetarian-fed, humanely raised bacon. The company now carries a wide assortment of products from hams to sausages, hotdogs, and deli meat. As the company’s vice president, Neil has helped Pederson Farms see a 1000% revenue growth over the past 10 years. Neil is passionate about the agriculture industry, sustainable farming and ranching practices, and the western lifestyle. In our interview, Neil and I chat about his background and the background of Pederson Farms, what sustainability looks like on the farm, his passion for cowboy life and western culture, the impact the tv show Yellowstone has had on culture, and the mentality of “No Days Off.” And when you’re done listening, be sure to check out Pederson Farms’ website as well as their podcast, Powdered by Protein Podcast that’s also hosted by Neil.
Our guest today is meant scientist, Diana Clark from Certified Angus Beef. Diana knows all things Angus Beef, why the brand was started, what makes Angus beef so good, and how our meat supply chain was impacted due to Covid. This was a super fun interview and if you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out the Meat Speak podcast by Certified Angus Beef! It features Diana and a few others from the brand as they educate people more about the amazing qualities of Angus.
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Trevor: All right. Well, Diana Clark, welcome to the farm traveler podcast.
Diana: Excellent. How about yourself? Trevor: doing well. So I’m excited to chat with you. I love learning more and more about meat science and butchery. So before we dive into that, kind of tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of how you got to what you’re doing
Diana: Yeah, so, um, I actually grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Uh, didn’t really have much background in meat or animal science or anything like that. Um, I wanted to become a vet, so I went to the university of Illinois. Animal science there and slowly get immersed into agriculture, uh, while I was there and, uh, I started working at the meat lab when I was a sophomore, just to make money and help pay for school. And then I won’t be whole found this career in meat science. Um, I got hooked on pretty quick. We actually have a meat judging program. Not many people probably really know about it, but a lot of universities, especially your land grant universities, [00:01:00] um, we’ll have meat judging teams that will go around and compete. And essentially you place value on carcasses from most valuable to least valuable. You have to write reasons. But the greatest part about it is really get introduced to the whole meat industry, um, from just people within it. And then also peers that will be in it later. I just developed some great friends through that, uh, through that process and everything. Um, so that really got me hooked into meat science, and then. Became more and more interested and went on. And I got my masters in meat science as well. I had did a few internships with Sarah Lilly, um, under the Hillshire farm brand, which is now known by Tyson. Um, and then my husband and I moved out to Ohio. He also has a PhD in meat science. I have my masters, he has a PhD. But we talk a lot about me as
Trevor: soon as I can imagine. Yeah.
Diana: And, uh, so I started off working at a veal packing plant in Creston, Ohio. I was there for [00:02:00] probably about four months before a position opened up at a certified Angus beef. And then I started working there in 2015. So I’ve been there since, and I love it. And each and every day, uh, it’s a lot of fun. Essentially what we get to do here is we do a lot of hands-on education. So we’ll. Distributors chefs, um, even some just consumers come in and show them where different cuts are on the carcass and how to break things down. And then we also have six chefs on staff and they’ll go ahead and cook up all those cuts. So that way they can get experiences of different muscles textures. And just seeing those light bulb moments is phenomenal. One when people walk in. So it’s just really neat to have. See the whole industry through and
Trevor:No, I can imagine. So I taught high school ag in two years in Daytona and the first competition we covered was meet ID actually. And it was so fun the first time it was the first competition and we did. [00:03:00] And so it was really cool actually teaching them, showing them the different cuts of meat and stuff like that. And we actually went to Gainesville and did the state competition and it was super fun. And of course they were in the meat locker the whole time and they were super cold, but, uh, they had a blast. We didn’t place very high, but we learned a lot and it was so.
Diana: That’s all that matters. It is. So like, it’s just so neat that experience. We, I coached a, uh, a four H meat judging team here in Ohio. And then I also coached one in Illinois. Um, and coming up with the little ways for people to remember that cuts of meat, you’re like, oh yeah, that one looks like Pac-Man that one, you just have those things engraved in your head then for the rest of your life. The store at the grocery and you’re just like, oh, oh look, look, there’s a Pac-Man steak right there. Tick. Okay. I got that.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s awesome. So now anytime my wife goes to get meat from Publix or wherever, um, she’s always making sure that we get something that’s well marbled and it’s got some good quality to it. So that’s pretty cool. [00:04:00] Um, and, uh, yeah, you’ve been doing something on your Instagram, which has really neat where you showcase different cuts of. Um, and usually they’re like some lesser known cuts and I think I’m like, oh, for 10 on guessing all of them, which hopefully I get better at that. But, um, what kind of inspired you to do that? Because it’s been really, that’s been really fun to kind of follow Diana: just all, uh, COVID inspiration. Um, I was sitting there thinking about. What, what did people ask most of when we have people in the back and I’m breaking down sides of beef, what do they ask the most of? And 90% of the time they’re back there. Can you show me this cut or, Hey, have you heard of this? Cut. They want to know more about the cuts. So I thought. I think it’d be fun for people just to guess what cut it is. Um, and just put something up there and then the next day, just give them a little bit of education behind it. So that way they can kind of play a game and keep challenging themselves. And it is it’s fun just to see people’s answers. Cause sometimes like, oh, I totally can see why you think that. [00:05:00] And that gives you some culinary inspiration at the same time when you’re looking at it like, oh, we probably could use utilize that in a different way. Um, but then also to me, one of the neatest parts. That this is the beauty of Instagram is being able to connect with everyone through the world. So it’s not just that small niche. So I put something up and you get responses of, well, this is what we call it in Argentina. Well, this is what we call it in Japan. This is what we call. So. Cool for me to learn and see all these different names of cuts throughout the world, and then how they utilize it in their cuisine. And you’re instantly connected. Uh, and that’s, that’s always the fun part of, of having that, that education. But. Goes both ways. It’s just not on, on my end, preaching out. I receive a lot from people. And so that’s the fun part when people plug into it too.
Trevor: Pretty cool perspective. So are there any other types of meat, like maybe a T-bone steak where we treat it really well here, but in other countries, maybe they don’t care.[00:06:00]
Diana: Well, it’s more than that. So they’ll, it’s more that they won’t have it. It’s not as utilized. Um, because if you think about just even from how fortunate we are in terms of refrigeration and everything like that. Well, a lot of times it’s, well, we don’t have that capability in this country. So we’re going to have these large hunks of meat that rockabilly going to cover in salt to try to preserve them. And we have to slice it really thin. So they still will use like kind of your middle meats. I feel like our go-to they’re great. But then it’s all of those other cuts, like you think about, and, uh, Japan like a shabu, shabu, just the thinly sliced, because I want to make sure that the meat’s cooked all the way in thoroughly, even down in south America, you have a lot of things that are cut really thin on the bias because they want to make sure it’s well done just from a food safety standpoint. Well, we really don’t have to worry about that. So we try to use these in different ways. We usually cook them way under them, what they would. And, um, but I think just getting that culinary inspiration and you see some of the acidity that [00:07:00] they add into their dishes too, just to help with that is, is really neat to see. And also I’ve noticed there’s a ton of. Meet education going on, someone just reached out to me from Argentina. That’s doing a butcher school within Argentina, and they’re trying to train up, get people more involved and engaged in this career because they’re realizing it’s that dying art, but they still have. Uh, there was someone in the middle east that was just talking to me about that too, that she’s doing the same thing, trying to educate and get people more involved in cutting because there, so few of those people out there, uh, so just seeing the need globally is really awesome. And knowing that you have that trade, that can be really useful. And I think there’s a lot of people out there that can cut meat. They just don’t know that there’s very few of them that can, so it’s, it’s fun just seeing that kind of.
Trevor: Oh, that’s awesome. So, man, I can’t remember his name, but we had on somebody a few months ago or I think last year and he does butchery, which I think specifically for hogs. And so [00:08:00] he goes to those locations and he butchers them on site and kind of holds a class to kind of show the cuts and all that stuff. Uh, which is really neat because there really aren’t that many butchers as are. Whereas there were in years past. I mean, it’s kind of like, um, a career field that nobody’s really interested in anymore. Yeah.
Diana: It’s funny that you say that too. So we have neighbors down the road, um, being that we’re transplants from Illinois to Ohio, we don’t have family around here. Uh, but our neighbors were fortunate enough to invite us over. They do this every year where they’ll, they’ll bring in a few hogs that kind of the surrounding families want and they’ll butcher them all. And. They’ll cut them apart. And they’ve set up this whole system where they have basically this small room that you could pretty much fit a table and they put air conditioners in to cool it down. They’ll have about like eight people in there. Cutting. And then you transfer the meat down to the basement and they have a group of people making sausages, and then people packaging steaks. It’s like this whole process and there’s usually [00:09:00] five or six families that are. But then afterwards you distribute out the meat and you guys are pretty much set on pork for the year. So it’s, it’s really neat because that’s how it used to be done. Like they used to go around and help each other out, but it’s a great way just to get people involved with each other, um, and just help them want each other out. So that’s, I always, I love seeing. Those things go on. And as long as it’s done, like in a, in a safe way, of course, that’s always the concern when you see that happening. But seeing that they’ve taken the time to, to know the ins and outs behind it is a lot of fun.
Trevor: So we’ve got some friends of friends that went in, um, with some other friends and bought a cow and processed it. And they got so much meat that they basically had to buy a separate freezer because they had so much, which is so cool. And I want to do that one day because it’s such a great way. I mean, you know exactly where that meats coming from, you know, exactly how that cow processed. And, um, I mean, it’s such a, win-win, you’re getting so much me too at a lower cost than you might get at a grocery store for [00:10:00] buying
Diana: that much. The, the one neat thing. I think seeing the processes kind of understanding that too, because so my, my husband is from a small town and oblong, Illinois, not there’s I think 1600 people there I’m from Chicago suburbs. So my family doesn’t really understand. Process at all. Um, but my dad, at one point he did want to buy a steer from my, my husband’s family. So he did, and I told them like, okay, you’re gonna need to make sure you have freezer space. And so he said, okay. And then I’m like, you’re gonna know you’re going to have a lot of ground beef. Like a lot of ground beef is going to come off this animal. And so we, we go through the process and I was telling him like, okay, so this, this animal was like 1200 pounds. Like. But then once you get to the hot carcass weighed. So once the head hoes hide and viscera or guts have all been removed, now we’re down to like 800 pounds, and now we’re going to process that. And now we’re going to be down to like 350 to 400 pounds. And out [00:11:00] of that, you’re going to have about 10 to 12 revise. You’ll have about 10 strip steaks. And then depending on who’s cutting it, how many sirloin steaks you might have 10 to 15, and then you’re going to have a lot of rows. And you’ll have some, you’ll have about four Tenderloin steaks, and then you’re going to have a lot of ground beef. Like it, you need to realize this is, this is one of it. That’s true. And cause I think it’s understanding a lot. Like you’ll see cars are priced sexual. We get insides of beef here at the culinary center. We pay two, $2 and 50 cents per pound for a whole side. So it’s usually for a side of me is around a thousand to $1,200. Okay. But then from there we process it and you only get so few steaks until you go to the grocery store and you think, man, that’s a sticker shock, especially now. I mean, prices are extremely high, but yeah, they still are trying to utilize though the rest of that entire carcass. [00:12:00] For us, we don’t save w we don’t have the stomach or anything like that, but even at the packing plants, they’re utilizing every single piece of that. So you think about how many restaurants have ribeye on the menu? Great. But how many restaurants have your, uh, lifter meat on the menu? Or how many restaurants have your tri tip on the menu? It’s okay. There’s not as many there too. That’s that’s the beauty of, of the beef system in general is that we find homes for everything. I think it’s fun that to be able to go through that experience, to see the process, because you learn so much in it, I think everyone should be able to do that. That’s why we have that here breaking the animal apart. So you could see where everything is, but by being able to have beef at the grocery store available to us, 24 7 is just phenomenal to be able to have that quality and you get what you want, what you know, you’re going to eat. Right. All right. We’re going to try to take down this round roast again tonight because that’s all we have left in the [00:13:00] freezer and it’s kind of going through all that. And it it’s comical because even here we utilize all of our, our meat and we usually usually we’ll send it to like our chefs. We’ll use it for, for groups coming in for lunches or dinners or what’s. But then the rest of it, we have internally, we can give it to staff for a suggested donation price. Cause since we’re not inspected, we can’t actually sell the meat. But then we utilize that to go back to some of our, um, kind of our, uh, helping other farmers and ranchers. We have a few things that we do that just able to give aid out when needed. Um, so we use that internally, but the middle meats, those steaks will sell first before. And then usually we have some of your round cuts or your Chuck cuts that are left. But to me, those are the hidden gems like that. No one really truly knows about. And I think it’s that the confusion from a consumer of, I really don’t know what to do with it. It’s like, it’s, it’s easy. I mean, [00:14:00] and people will ask me like salt and pepper and grill it 90% of the time. That’s all you need to do or throw it in a Crock-Pot low and slow, depending on how big it is. Though that to me is where more education can be driven to get people, to get some of these lower end cuts to utilize because there’s still phenomenal eating experiences. I mean, especially here at certified Angus beef, we have a lot of high quality meat coming through. You don’t have to pay as much for them. And regardless of you’re buying them here, if you’re buying them at a grocery store where you’re getting them, and that’s even some of the conversations that we have with chefs too, we want you to really utilize the whole animal, not just these middle meats, because, and if you do utilize a Hawaiian. That is going to drive the value of certified Angus beef. That’s going to drive the value of the Angus animal. And then it’s going to go back to that farmer and rancher, the Angus cattleman, because that’s who we are at certified Angus beef. We are actually owned by the American Angus association. Um, and that that’s made up of just farmers and ranchers that pay their [00:15:00] dues every, every year. And so that way it’s going to drive the demand back to them. And they’re going to have a more profitable animal to keep trying to make that certified Angus beef marking it, continue to drive the quality of animal in general, which is, I think that’s one of the neatest parts about this company. That we’re working for that, that local person. Um, even though it’s still just, it’s big beef system, it’s still goes through the whole beef system, but we’re really driving it back to whoever has Angus cattle, because even, I mean, to be quite honest, to any, anyone who has black hided animals, because it’s driving the value behind it because people are looking for that higher quality.
Trevor: Yeah. So people hear that term, um, a hundred percent certified Angus beef and know that it’s got better marbling, better flavor and stuff like that. So really, I mean, what kind of sets those Angus cows apart to where, you know, there’s so much prestige behind the.
Diana: Yeah. So it’s really neat the way, the way the company started. So we actually had, um, there’s an Angus [00:16:00] farmer that, uh, went out to dinner in Chicago. He had a terrible steak, but on the menu it said it was Angus. And he was really upset because he’s like, I raised these Angus animals and this is what people are eating. And I think that it’s Angus beef. This is not. So he wrote into the American Angus association and said, this is what we need to do in order to make sure that the Angus name is known for known and well liked. Um, and so the American Angus association said, okay, let’s try this. Um, and so they actually got Mick Colvin, um, who lived in west Salem, Ohio. And that’s why we are in Wooster, Ohio right now is because of where. To Mick, you’re going to have this up and try to start a branded beef program, which never existed before that. So Cisco, like, all right, good luck. Bye. See you later. Um, but he, he actually got to go in and the main reason why was he was able to work with a meat scientist, Dr. Bob van Saburn from Ohio state. I actually should say V. Ohio state since I’m in the state of Ohio. Gosh. Yeah. [00:17:00] Um, they play the Ohio state fight song. At the Cleveland Indians baseball game. I don’t, I never understand that. Yeah, I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I’m still trying to understand that. But anyways, um, so he contacted Dr. Bob Vince Tavern to say, Hey, we need to do something to make sure that the meat that people are getting is high. And so the beauty with Angus animals is that they’re already high quality animals in general. I mean, they’re just known to be one they’re genetically they’re good mothers. So they’re, they’re very good at producing other cattle. And then also just being able to feed and grow and everything. So from a producer standpoint, Angus cattle, or. Then from you look from a carcass trait standpoint, they really typically have more marbling in them. I mean, they just always have, and you we’ve tried to select for this over years. So now we’re getting these higher genetics or better genetics, I should say, within the cattle that are producing more marbling within them as well. [00:18:00] So then that’s like the live side of things, but then we look at the carcass. Okay. Now we can say that. Angus cattle. And that’s great because then it does drive the demand for Angus cattle. However, within that group of Angus, I mean, even if you look at, at, I, I think about English massive, so I have an English massive dog. You have a wide array of English. Massive. Usually English masters are really big animals. Um, they’re kind of bold and, and rough. Well, my English math massive is only 110 pounds. So. Uh, although it sounds big to some people that’s very light for a Mastiff. Um, she has long hair doesn’t look like your typical Mastiff would, uh, but she is technically pure bread. I mean, she is a hundred percent massive English master, so it’s kind of the same concept with Angus cattle. You can have these Angus cattle that yeah, they are angry. But they might’ve not gotten the best nutrition or they [00:19:00] might not have the best genetics. So from an eating quality standpoint, they’re still not back. And so that’s where they want it to say, okay, now we need to make sure the dots are connected all the way through the system. So they focus on from the live standpoint, predominantly black hided. And essentially that means the entire body is black. If it has a little white on its face or on its, uh, hubs, then it’s okay. Um, but everything else has to be. So you can have some heterogeneity in there. You can have some mixed breeds because we know commercial herds exist. And that’s really the number one thing. That’s driving that beef industry. So we need to make sure that we play into that, but now let’s look at the carcass itself because that’s where the true quality is going to lie in that carcass. And so we’ll look at the marbling. We want to make sure that it has enough marbling, that a consumer is going to notice a difference. And then we also want to make sure the animals younger so less than 30 months. Because the older an animal gets the tougher that meat’s going to be. So we [00:20:00] try to look at those, those things essentially to give that tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, everything that a consumer wants to have in order to have a great tasting steak. So that’s kind of our goal. But then we have seven other specifications that we’ll look at some other parameters. So some of them, we call the chef specs because they look at sizing having consistent revise, sizing, little back fat, having a consistent, hot carcass weight, just to keep the animals more consistent because then they’re easier to work with. But then also you don’t get excessive and fat. There’s not a lot of waste in terms of the production standpoint. So it keeps them the more cost-effective as. You don’t have to worry about all that trim work. And then you’ll have some things that can happen in animals, like a capillary rupture or dark cutter, or the shape of the revisers simply is kind of narrow and long. It just doesn’t look good. We want to get those out. So kind of there the oddballs in the industry, but they still exist. [00:21:00] And we just don’t want those to be in that certified Angus beef box. So once we go through that process and actually USDA greater is going to evaluate the animal to make sure that it falls into that category. Um, it could then be labeled certified Angus beef. So you being a person that would go to a grocery store. And they could go and see that logo, that certified Angus beef logo and say, that’s what I’m going to get, because all of that guesswork at the end of does it have enough marbling? Is it going to be tender? How that’s all done for you already? So it’s making sure that that consumer is going to get the best product that they can find at the store at that time. So that’s kind of our goal behind that. And doing so it’s going to drive back since we are certified Angus beef, it drives back, oh, that consumer sees Angus and they perceive it as high quality. So it’s going to drive that back, that demand for the Angus animal, which is going to help our farmers and ranchers get more profit for their animal to,
Trevor: yeah. And there’s [00:22:00] only really two breeds that kind of have that prestige it’s Angus and Wagyu, which is totally like a different, um, yeah, exactly. So have y’all tested any.
Diana: We’ve uh, looked at different stuff and it’s, it’s, it’s definitely it’s its own breed for sure. Um, Um, beauty’s in it, the marbling, and it is phenomenal without a doubt, definitely a heavy marble the animals. The hard part is to, from an efficiency standpoint, they take a lot longer to reach that end point. So that’s going to be more days on feed, longer production. Which is going to be hard for that producer, but that’s, I mean, that’s what you pay for with the wagon. I mean, you’re paying for the extra days on feed, the more food for the animals. You’re paying a little bit more for that trim work that they have to do at the processing level. So there’s all those things that are going to, and that’s why you have those drastic price, price differences between your certified Angus beef and your Wagyu. Not saying that why it wouldn’t be a phenomenal experience because it would be from an [00:23:00] eating quality standpoint. But to be honest, I can only have. A couple of bites of the steak, and then I’m, I’m pretty much out because just usually fat overload. Um, but it’s still, it’s one of those things. It’s like, well, I tried it like, it was it’s, it’s neat to have that experience and those deaf, those animals have been bred to be that heavy marbles, uh, types. You just see again, going into those genetics that playing through for sure. And you’re starting to see more of your. Wagyu cross, um, out there in the market. And there’s still a little debate on how profitable that is, but the beauty of it, those animals would be black hided. So they still can fall into that certified Angus beef brand and still drive the demand for those Angus genetics that are within the animal as Trevor: well. Gotcha. And before I forget about it, there’s black Angus and red Angus, right? So is there really any difference there between kind of.
Diana: No, that’s the hard part. So we are the only country that Inc that makes certified Angus beef black [00:24:00] and the red Angus association. So we have American Angus association and the red Angus association where we’re two separate entities, although they’re the same come from the same breed and everything. I mean, really they’re very similar of everything. Simply their hide color, um, where you could actually have two black animals that, um, actually have a red calf that is very possible. Uh, Because we are the American Angus association and we live in the United States. We really do focus only on our black Angus cattle. Um, and to be honest, there’s fewer of the red Angus too. Um, they can still fall into other programs like you have your certified Herford, um, that would actually capture those as well. Um, but it’s just, just a smaller pool of cattle, but they still do have very, uh, similar genetics. Gotcha. Trevor: Yeah, I’ve always wondered if there’s like a difference between the taste of the two. I mean, black and red.
Diana: Now I will say the beauty, um, beauty about the American Angus association. So they’ve been at this for years, [00:25:00] um, and they are definitely a group. I’d say that’s, uh, pretty, pretty dominant for their breed. Like they, they will do anything to make sure that the breed is going to stand out and be better, uh, to the point where I remember when I was in graduate school. There was a genetic disease that was found within the Angus genetic. So essentially to be, to be registered, you send in a blood sample that makes sure that you are in fact Angus type. Um, so they found that this disease and they said, okay, um, this is okay. Like you can keep it going in the Angus herd, however it’s going to cause some defects download. And so the American Angus association, they really could have just said, all right, whatever, we’re just going to leave it as is. It’s going to cause a little few bumps in the road, but it’s not going to be, it’s not going to be a major deal. Just be a minor deal. But them being who they are, they said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We want to make sure that this breed is the best. So we’re going to go ahead and we’re getting, [00:26:00] remove anyone that basically had that genetic defect in their line. They no longer could be considered registered Angus. Which takes an animal. Like if you think a bowl that originally was registered in his bowl had so much value to them and now just drops it to hardly anything because he no longer is registered Angus animal. And so it had a lot of their people that are within the association, very upset that they did. But they did it to better the Angus genetics. They did it to improve the herd moving forward. And those are decisions that they continue to make each and every day and know that they’re not going to be favorable decisions by the association or by all of the farmers and ranchers, but they know that it’s going to improve the herd quality. And that’s their goal. And that’s one thing that the Angus association has been doing before any other breed association out there. So they’re definitely further along, I’d say on that genetic pool probably than any other breed. Um, and it’s awesome to see that [00:27:00] quality. On the meat side, because you’re seeing these extremely high quality animals continue to come through. And it’s because they’ve been so diligent at making sure they have the best genetics within. And
Trevor: so from your perspective, I’ve always heard a lot of things about grain finished beef and grass-finished beef, and I’ve heard. Like grain finished results in a butter, your flavor, and grass-finished is kind of like a healthier, I guess, less fattier flavor. And so have you seen any real differences there between grass-finished or grain finished beef? Like, um, does one have more marbling or is one going to be a little bit better tasting than the other? Uh, what have you, what have you.
Diana: Yeah. So the biggest thing is usually your grain finished cattle are going to have higher quality. They’re going to have more marbling just simply from the nutrition that the animal is getting. Now, the biggest thing to remember is all animals will eat grass. Pretty much their entire life. Um, they have to, to help develop their rumen. Even when those grain finished animals are in the feed yard, they’re still eating some type of [00:28:00] forage, just mixed into their diet. Um, it’s not going to be just pure court and they have a nutritionist that will balance all that out your grass-finished animals since they don’t have as much starch or those carbohydrates in their diet. Uh, they’re going to tend to be. Uh, so that’s going to give you, uh, it’s almost to me a game year type tastes that some people will notice, um, that, and that’s really going to be your major differences between the two, uh, That’s why the grain finished animal is more favorable to the consumer one, because they’re used to that, that palette, but also it’s simply just tastes better. Now. I definitely have seen some grass-finished animals that do have marbling. It is, is possible. I’m not saying that it’s not, but it takes longer for those animals to reach that end point in order to get that marbling. Um, so again, you’re going to have more days on. Um, it’s not going to be as sustainable as you would have your, your grain finished beef, which is kind of contradictory to what a lot of [00:29:00] people think. Um, but it it’s the truth, uh, but just kind of, that’s why you have some of those differences. Overall is many are going to have more marbling or higher quality within your grain finished animal, um, versus your grass.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s something I need to do. I want to do like a taste test between them and kind of figure out what are the differences between grain fed and grass-finished
Diana: we did them here a lot of really. Yeah. And it, most, it’s actually pretty great. Cause most chefs will say that they have it on their. Pretty much just for the consumer that they don’t like grain they’re grass-finished beef. They’re like, I really don’t want to have that. I I’d prefer not to like, because honestly we go and buy some grass-finished beef from there’s a butcher shop up the road that has it. And we just cook them side by side to our certified Angus beef. And they’re like, yeah, I know it’s on the menu. We really just do it for the consumer. I don’t like grass-finished beef. I’m like, oh, well, okay. Trevor: That’s crazy. I mean, consumer demand basically drives everything, whatever the chefs want or [00:30:00] whatever the consumer wants. I mean, that’s, what’s going to be in the grocery store. I mean, the consumer is super powerful Diana: and that’s what always kills me. Cause, uh, the consumer will think like, All of the food industry is out to get them. Like we’re trying to hurt them. We’re going to poison them with whatever we’re giving them. It’s like, no, you’re driving the demand for like our process. So we don’t want to hurt you because if you died, like you wouldn’t have anyone consuming our products. So no, that doesn’t make any sense. And really, we just want to make sure that you’re having the best experience and that’s with the entire, like when I worked at Sara Lee with Hillshire farm, Uh, I, so many consumers will think that the processed meats are so bad for you. They’re not, they’re not bad for you at all. I mean, they have salt in them, but it’s, I mean, as long as you’re not consuming an entire thing of lunch meat every single day, then you really should be okay. Uh, it’s, it’s healthy for you. This is good stuff. We’re not going to try to hurt you, but we want to make sure that you enjoy the products, even though there’s some things that are on the back that are chemicals, that you [00:31:00] might not fully understand. It’s really just to make sure that the product tastes. And it’s safe for you to eat. I mean, that’s, that’s really the goal behind producing anything. Um, but it’s, it’s always just kind of comes back to, oh, they’re trying to get me. I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. This is like the safest food system in the world that we have here. You need to be confident in that.
Trevor: Oh yeah. And I mean, here in the U S we have the safest, most abundant food supply that we’ve ever seen in. If consumers don’t want something, then farmers aren’t going to grow it. I mean, that’s why. Um, consumers wanted organic produce and then farmers started growing more and more organic stuff to kind of fit those needs because that’s how powerful the consumer
Diana: is. And you even look at it. I remember this was way back when, but there was a kind of a big push against no caffeine and people didn’t want coffee anymore. Coffee. All of a sudden it was really bad for you. And it actually caused countries in south America to really plummet because we stopped buying coffee beans in, and it’s amazing of how many.[00:32:00] I mean power. We truly have just by personal preferences like that. And then it, but again, like you said, I mean, people will switch our practices to make sure that we provide for that consumer without a doubt. Trevor: Yeah. I feel like the biggest problem is that people are forgetting about moderation. Just like with, with coffee. I mean, if you had 20, 30 cups of coffee a day, like you’re going to have some caffeine problems there. I mean, for sure. But, um, I mean the same thing. If you ate beef with every meal, you probably have some health issues. And just like, if you ate apples, like nothing but apples, you’d probably have those same problems or different problems. I mean, it’s all about moderation and having like some. Um, I don’t know, personal responsibility with, um, with your diet and kind of making sure you’re having a healthy diet and you’re eating what you’re Diana: supposed to. I completely agree. And it’s so funny that you even said apples. We actually had a, um, a friend of ours in graduate school, like one day he came in and we’re sitting down and he literally had an entire bag of apples.[00:33:00] And we look at him, we’re like, what are you doing? And he’s like, well, you know, the apple peel, it’s got the. Enzyme in it. That’s really good. It helps speed up your metabolism and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and all this stuff. And he’s going on and on like, okay, but how much sugar is in the rest of that apple? Like you consume just those, I guarantee you going out of your sugar range that you need to have for the day. That’s probably not the greatest thing from a calorie standpoint, maybe you eat an apple to get that enzyme, and then maybe it has some vegetables and some. To balance the whole meal. It was just, it is people just get so stuck in the groove of, this is what we’re going to do. It’s like now you gotta think of the big picture. And that even goes back to. When we talk about grain, finished beef, you, same thing with the nutritionist, balancing that diet for the animal. They’re not just going to give them all corn because they know that it’s not healthy. They need to make sure that it’s balanced all the way through so that they get all of the nutritional requirements that they need in order to grow [00:34:00] efficiently. So that’s the kind of that big myth that they’re just kind of pumping them full of grain. It’s like, no, no, no. That’s not how this works. If, if we only all had nutrition, Working on our meals. I can only imagine what they would tell me about my diet. Trevor: Yeah, same, same. They probably tell me to leave it all the Cheetos. Yeah. I feel like that’s something, a lot of people don’t realize is that, um, I mean, there are nutritionists on a farm that are making sure the cows are eating what they’re supposed to, chickens, whatever livestock. I mean, if the livestock isn’t within a certain weight range, like if they’re too big or too small, I mean, they’re not going to. Nearly as profitable. So you’ve got to kind of reign in what they’re eating and make sure that they are kind of between the goalposts in terms of weight, Diana: without a doubt. Yeah.
Trevor: So I feel like we could keep talking about this for a while, but, um, I know COVID is still a thing, right? Uh, or early 20, 20, we had a whole issue with the F with the food supply chain. And so, I mean, what really happened there with, um, kind of the meat processing? Like, [00:35:00] did we lose workers? Why did they shut down so much? Because I know that was a huge issue, um, about, I don’t know, over a year ago when all that. Diana: Yeah. So again, that was all consumer demand, consumer scare that kind of drove that. So if you even look at some of the pricing that happened or the market, right, right. When COVID started. So people, I mean, toilet paper and everything, people started buying stuff like crazy. Well, they did that in the meat department. I mean, they just bought and bought and bought, tore out everything. So that way really our demand SkyRide. And so now we’re trying to get cattle processed faster, uh, to get the, those meats net. And then it started to die down a little bit, but at the same time, so that set consumer demand and consumers actually remained elevated in buying meat in general, especially beef. They just wanted more meat because I think they give us kind of that mentality. Well, we need to have some in the freezer, so we’re always just going to buy a little bit of extra. Um, so it’s [00:36:00] remained elevated. So because it remained elevated in the grocery stores. To keep that supply going. Fortunately slash unfortunately at the beginning, our food service, all of our restaurants and everything they were closed. So we were able to kind of switch over that supply from food service over into retail. The only issue is sometimes we have some more of those food service cuts versus retail cuts. So we had to balance that out a little bit, but ground beef was a big seller. So a lot of things probably got ground up and thrown into. Um, so now we have food service come back on and they’re wanting some of this meat that now the retail sector was taking in. So now we have more demand on both sides. And so it’s trying to make sure that we get that demand. But at the same time, your packing plants are still battling with COVID. So they’re still traveling to have people wear a face mask. They have to stand further apart than what they did before. Meaning they’re going to have to decrease [00:37:00] your, your line. So slow down that line to make the process happen still efficiently, but it’s not going to be as fast as what it was so that we have those things moving through slowly. And now you’re having people that are getting sick or maybe not coming to work or I’ve found different jobs. And so they’re starting to battle. I mean, still labor for them is the number one issue. They don’t have enough people coming in consistently in order to get things processed. So if you put kind of a hold on all that up front, that of course that trickle-down is going to be a lot harder. And so we’re still seeing extremely high meat prices, uh, compared to any other time. And it’s not just meat is the sad part. I mean, it’s, it’s everything. Everything is really high. Just from transportation standpoint. We don’t have enough of that going on right now in the United States and in the world to be, should be exact. I mean, the, in terms of freight, um, and just flight and everything is just completely slowed down. And so that’s jumping prices up. [00:38:00] Um, so, but you’re still continuing to see those effects from COVID. Uh, we did have a little bit of a low, but now as we go back into the holiday season, you see certain prices start to go up again, especially your ribbon, your Tenderloin, but that being said, there’s still plenty of other cuts that are going to remain low on that. Um, one great value cut to buy right now would be a strip loin or to even buy closer to the holidays. So a lot of people will go to your classic bros for Christmas. Um, but really that strip is the exact same muscle as your rib that longest Mr. Sy and can handle just as well prepared as kind of your quote unquote prime rib. You could still do the same cooking techniques to it. And it’s going to be a fraction of the cost of what that ribeye or Tenderloin would be. So it’s kind of driving the demand to some of those other cuts to make sure that people are still satisfied and can utilize them pretty easily.
Trevor: Crazy. Yeah. I remember hearing, um, some people saying like, oh, we have a beef. [00:39:00] And I was like, no, we don’t really have a beef shortage. It’s that we’re having like problems, um, processing it all. And I mean, that’s just huge, a huge problem there. And then even whatever that all was going on. I remember seeing pictures of like Publix Walmart, different supermarkets, and, um, when people were actually, when they were buying their meat, they were buying all sorts of stuff like beef, chicken, and pork. But they weren’t buying that, um, alternative meats, like beyond meat and all that stuff, which I thought was pretty interesting. Yes,
Diana: I actually did. I love seeing that. It’s like, oh yeah, wait, no, there they’re still fully stocked. It’s like, okay, now we know where the true protein lies right here. Trevor: Yeah, that’s true. So, uh, yeah, I’ve tried the beyond meat burger a few months. And it was okay. Like, it wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but you could tell it definitely wasn’t there yet, like in terms of flavor and texture and all that good stuff. And it’s really fascinating that people just kind of think it, it just kind of appears there, but there’s so many [00:40:00] random ingredients in there, like soybean oil and stuff like that. I mean, like it’s like beets kind of give it, um, kinda make it bleed, quote unquote. And so it’s interesting that some people think it’s not super Diana: processed. Yeah. And it always blows my mind. It’s like the sector of the people. It’s like the people that are reading the beyond burger are so like, oh, I want minimal processed and everything like that. I’m like, okay, that’s probably the most processed thing that you can have, like disco cut a cauliflower steak or something. If you want to have vegetables in your diet. I, I don’t understand it. I have had it before plain. Like I never have had it actually as a burger. And it just it’s. Yeah, like you said, the texture’s really different. I hate, I hate that they try to look like a burger. I’m like, okay, if you really don’t want to eat meat, Why are you trying to imitate the way meat looks like, just make it a different shape or something like that? I just, yeah, it, it blows my mind,
Trevor: but yeah, like a broccoli leaf or
Diana: something. Yeah. Right. [00:41:00] If I am not going to judge anyone, I mean, if you, if you like to eat them, that’s totally fine. And that’s, that’s kind of. Fortunate enough to have those choices, but I just don’t like them. I’m not a fan. Yeah.
Trevor: We’ve got a lot of choices. Yeah. So I, I saw one, it was like an imitation imitation chicken sausage, and I was like, nothing of that sounds appetizing. So I’m good. I’ve had, um, a cauliflower steak before and it was actually really good. Like it was crunchy. Diana: It was really, really good. I really am a fan. I mean, you get a good char on that, on the grill, a lot of salt and pepper. I, I, I mean, I’m, I’m a vegetable. I really am a meat and vegetable person, so I could eat any vegetable without a problem. I’m not going to hate it, but that’s why I’m like, I don’t understand why we have to process it to seed it the way it is. It’s delicious how it comes. Out of the ground and everything. So just have it that way. That’s the way it’s supposed to
Trevor: Oh yeah, the simpler the better. So, um, we’ve actually kind of befriended a company here in Florida called Boyd farms fresh, [00:42:00] and they are a ranch that sells direct to consumers. So they started going to farmer’s markets and starting selling direct and we’ve bought a bunch of stuff from them. Like we bought a hanger steak. That was super good. I mean, you can’t find that at Publix. Uh, so what do you think about those smaller scale operations? Kind of like that, that are starting to. Deliver direct to consumers and that can even provide like better cuts or high quality, less available cuts straight to consumers. Like, do you think that’s kind of a win-win there?
Diana: I mean, there’s definitely there’s benefits in it too. Like regardless, I, I think you need everything in the beef system. I think you need to have the. Overall arching the, I call it the big beef businesses, um, just, just to get the demand out, to get it to grocery stores, to be able to provide, but there are some smaller places. I mean, even we, we will work with, uh, bullying ads packing here in Ashland, Ohio. I mean, they only harvest about a hundred to 150 head of cattle a week. Um, so they’re not going to be able to get it, to get their meat out [00:43:00] too far, but they also can’t fabricate it down to. Like a bunch of small retail cuts and get it all tray ready and have your stakes. Perfect. And everything like that. It’s we take bigger hunks of meat and break it down and utilize it that way. So you have some benefits on both ends, but that, that connection to be able to utilize the whole animal, I will have to say that the probably their larger scale packing plants are much better. Utilizing the entire thing, because they have customers that they can find homes for the stomach, for the tongue, for the checkmate and all that, all those kind of off-cuts. But you still have kind of that smaller processor that he has the ability to get you some of those kind of off the, off the chart cuts like your hanger steak. Well, there’s only one of those per animal. So those are pretty much utilized by the food service industry really quickly in big industry, because there’s not many of them out there or even the terrorist major. I mean, I know that’s a really [00:44:00] heavy food service. So, if you could get that from kind of your, your smaller butcher, that’s, that’s awesome to be able to connect with them too on that. Um, it’s, there’s places for everyone in the world, for sure. And I, I, the main reason why I do like it is I feel like people are connecting or trying to connect back to agriculture. And there’s this huge disconnect from there right now. Uh, and I think we need to have more of that bridge gap. So people just understand why certain practices are in place and that it is good and okay. And you’re starting to see more and more acceptance of that. Um, I just hope that people don’t think that that’s only in your small local person that’s everywhere. I mean, it’s, it’s within the system. It’s being able to see how that small person can fit into the bigger picture. Um, cause they will, regardless of, of where they are producing that they’re all kind of in it together doing similar practices.
Trevor: Oh yeah. I like that. That’s a good point. So, um, I learned in college that it’s kind of the four main categories of beef for [00:45:00] like prime choice, select standard in terms of like quality. But, uh, didn’t that change like a few months ago or like a few
Diana: years ago? Uh, not really. You still have prime choice, select standard, and then you have more that are on kind of your lower quality. Um, so you have commercial utility cutter and canner. Uh, but those are animals that are older than 42 months of age. Um, so just to kind of your poor quality, but in terms of kind of your, your mainstream, your. That people would know PR prime choice and select that standard. Not many people even know that. So the fact that, you know, standard is pretty amazing. Trevor: Yeah. I had an animal science class in college and we learned all about the different cuts and stuff.
Diana: Awesome. And that’s going to be your lowest quality of your younger animals. Not a lot of marbling essentially is what it comes down to. Um, but yeah, there’s, they’re still all utilized in some way, shape or form. So even if like, if you’re a beef person and you’ve had this old cow, that’s kind of [00:46:00] just isn’t producing calves anymore and you’re going to end up putting her into the beef system. Well, then all of a sudden you have this eight year old animal that’s going through. And what are you going to do with all our cuts of meat? So she still has a Tenderloin. She still has a ribeye. And I tell you, those still will get processed and they still will get sold. Probably your Tenderloin, your ribeye, and your strip loin are going to be used in some further process type way. Um, but then your other mates, if you think about Campbell soup, like they, those have chunks of beef in them, where do they come from? You get some of those cattle that fall into your. Kenner and cutter, uh, categories. There’s basically a really old and really low marbling. Um, that’s going to go more into your pet food system, but they all have homes and that’s the beauty of the big beef industry is that they can take it and see where do these places need to go, because we still need to utilize all the meat in some ways of form somehow. So how are we going to put them back to the people? Um, so it’s, it’s cool to just kind of [00:47:00] watch how that works and there’s actually even a. And national renders associated. So it’s the NRA, which is always funny, cause it’s like the other, other NRA. Um, but they, they have this really neat infograph, um, that shows where all of those rendered parts kind of go into. Um, but basically just show. Every single part of the animal is literally utilized. And some people see that and they get scared to go. It’s in my hot dog was like, no, it’s not in your hot dog. There’s, there’s literally meat in your hot dog, but it’s all of the other stuff. If you think about just like glues or, uh, cosmetics, uh, things like that, even other pet food and stuff, it’s all going to go in to be used because we don’t want to waste anything that this animal lived a long life for a reason and a purpose. So we want to make sure that we use it to that specimen. Yeah. I
Trevor: mean, people don’t realize that. I mean, there are animal byproducts in almost everything because I mean, we try to be super sustainable and use most of the parts of the [00:48:00] animal. I mean, I was reading a few years ago that, um, fireworks for example, have animal byproducts in them and things like tires, cosmetics, um, and of course, leather, obviously. I mean, there’s so much stuff that is made because of animal byproducts and because we want. Sustainable and use all of it. Uh, well, Diana, this has been super awesome. Chatting with you about all things, beef, all things, meat. Um, I feel like we could just keep talking about this stuff. Uh, but if people want to learn more about you or if they want to learn more about the whole certified Angus beef brand, um, where can they go? Where can they go to kind of see the content and learn more about it?
Diana: So, um, if you want to follow me, my Instagram handle is beef. Um, and then certified Angus beef. You can just search certified Angus beef. We have our website, there’s a ton of great recipes on there for pretty much every single cut of beef that you can imagine. Um, where I think we’re on all the major channels to take talk, Instagram, Facebook, and anything like that. [00:49:00] So, yeah, just Google it and I’m sure you will be able to find us pretty quickly. Uh, but yeah, if you guys have ever have questions or comments, we also have a podcast, the meat speak podcast, uh, just of talk all things, culinary and beef as much as we can. Uh, so please feel free to jump on and listen. And if you have questions, comments, write in, we will be sure to answer you. Um, even if you write into the website, I promise you, we do look at all of those questions and we will get back to you, uh, probably within a week, honestly. Pretty good about doing that.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s awesome. I can’t wait to check out your podcast. More meat speak. I mean, I think it’s super cool to have those. Really focused podcast in ag, like meet speed, where you can learn more about like beef and meat and all that good stuff. And I’m also super impressed that you guys use Tik TOK. I have not ventured into that, but it looks super terrifying, but I mean, it’s also been super valuable for some people. That’s
Diana: been a very new venture for, uh, for a certified Angus beef. We’re we’re starting to see some, some trends and things. It’s [00:50:00] yes, I have never, I, I don’t own, I don’t have a Tik TOK account or anything like that. I feel like I would. Sucked in way too quick and waste a lot of time. So my gift I’m just going to stay away, but it’s kind of neat. Some of the videos that they’ve come up with, uh, that, uh, yeah, there are a fascinating to
Trevor: watch. I might have to download tick-tock now just to, just to see, I mean, I’ll do it for Angus beef, so, so there we go. Well, Dana, this has been awesome chatting with you. I can’t wait to follow you more on Instagram and hopefully I can guess more of those cuts of meat correctly, but we’ll see you better. All right. Well, thanks so much for being on. We appreciate it. Yeah, no problem.
We are continuing this unintentional streak of meat companies by interviewing one a bit closer to home here in the Florida Panhandle. Boyd Fresh Farms is a 7th generation farm that specializes in beef cattle. Recently, the Boyd family has transitioned to selling direct to consumers here around North Florida. For those familiar with the Boyd name, you might remember Alan Boyd, the former State and US congressman is owner and operator. He, along with his wife Jeannie, daughter Suzanne, son David, and David’s fiancé Kelly, are continuing the tradition of this family farm will transitioning it into a key sector of the food supply chain.
Straight to consumer business are booming now in the age of the pandemic, and with we have seen just how frail the food supply chain is. Now, more farmers and ranchers are doing the work of processing and distribution to keep their food closer to home and costs down for themselves as well as the consumer. This change in supply is huge and has the potential to change the industry as we know it.
This week, I sit down with Alan and Suzanne and talk about the history of Boyd Farms Fresh, transitioning the business to selling direct, and if Alan prefers working with cattle of politicians. This was a super fun interview and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did recording it.
When was the last time you had Bison? It was probably at a Ted’s Montana Grill or a fancy restaurant. Honestly, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve had a bison burger, time I change that! Our guest today, is bringing one of the most high-quality meats out there, bison and even veal, straight to you door. Sean Lenihan is the founder of Honest Bison, a meat delivery company focused on suppling consumers with healthy, sustainably grown meat. Sean and I will chat about his background and the start of Honest Bison, how they work with ranchers of bison, and even discuss the concept of farmers and ranchers developing costs of food based on nutrition instead of weight.
Home meal kits are on the rage, especially now during COVID-19. One company is making a dent in the meat delivery services and offers products like beef and lobster to even the most famous beef out there, wagyu. Joe Heitzeberg, co-founder of Crowdcow is our guest today on the podcast. Joe and I will talk about the history of Crowdcow, how they strive to be different by working with farmers to bring tasty and sustainably raised beef and other meat products straight to your door.
Listen to the episode on the apps below:
Don’t forget to check out crowdcow at the links below:
I’ve always been fascinated with the art of butchery. The skill and knowledge to breakdown an animal carcass into countless cuts of meat that can be turned into delicious steaks, stews, roasts, and so on. And also to treat the animal with such respect that very little goes to waste. My first real impression of a butcher was an old guy on my favorite childhood TV show, Hey Arnold Although very little was explained by the characters quick appearances, it still seemed like a cool gig. The history and techniques of butchery work is something you don’t hear or see very much of anymore as the neighborhood butcher becomes a thing of the past. Well today, we will learn a thing or two about the art and science behind butchery work. Our guest today is Jake Levin. Jake travels to farms, chefs, and homesteaders and processes whole animals. Jake also does workshops to showcase his process and most recently released his book, Smokehouse Handbook. His book focuses on the history, techniques, and some recipes for smoking meats.