Friday, November 4, 2011

Grass-Fed Beef from Butternut Woods Farm

Butternut Woods is a family farm in Silver Lake, Minnesota that was homesteaded in 1876. Tom Moore and his sister Amy Haben purchased the family farm from their grand-mother to raise heritage breed Highland cattle.   Originating in Scotland, Highlands are the oldest known breed of cattle.  They have broad horns and long wool-like hair that keeps them warm in harsh climates.  They graze on pasture grasses and wooded plants and exhibit a gentle demeanor.  Tom and Amy are committed to raising these animals humanely and compassionately.  They use rotational grazing practices and do not give the cattle growth hormones or antibiotics.

I had the pleasure of visiting the charming Butternut Woods Farm this past week-end.  As customers who purchased a share of their grass-fed beef, my family was invited out for a tour of the farm when it was ready for pick-up.  After a 50 minute drive west of the cities, we were greeted warmly by a bonfire with a cup of hot apple cider.  Guests were treated to a hayride out into the pastures to visit the cattle.  The family eagerly answered questions about their farm and it's history, sharing a wealth of information.  It was a wonderful experience well worth the drive.

When we got home with our neatly packaged boxes of frozen grass-fed beef, I placed 3 pounds of stew meat in the refrigerator to thaw.  I was anxious to make beef stew and test their home raised product.  A few days later I made the stew and it was wonderful!  The meat was tender and flavorful.  I will post the stew recipe soon.

Why is it important to buy grass-fed pasture raised beef?  Cows are ruminants which means they were created to eat fiber filled grasses, plants and shrubs.  The beef you buy at the grocery store is from cows that were fed corn, soy and animal by-products (unless labeled otherwise).  Their systems were not made to process such starchy foods and as a result some animals become infected with disease so they are given a constant dosing of antibiotics.  These cows are also packed into commercial feed lots with not much room to move and stand in their own waste. Not only is pasture raised beef more natural, humane and eco-friendly, it is healthier for us. Grass-fed beef is lower in overall fat and has more omega 3 fats from the grass.  If you are interested in learning more about how beef and other foods are commercially produced in America, there are some great books and movies that discuss these topics.  A few I would recommend are The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Inc., and, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  If you are interested in purchasing grass-fed beef from Butternut Woods farm please contact them at  I know I will be buying another share this spring and visiting the farm again!

We were greeted by the heritage breed Highland Cattle

Arriving at the farm
Tom and Amy

Both male and female Highland Cattle have horns.

Me enjoying the tour.

More cattle

Guarding a calf 

Tom's beautiful home was built using wood from the old barn they tore down.
Amy's husband John takes guests on a hayride through the pastures.

Box 1 of our beef share filled with roasts, steaks, ribs, and other cuts.

Box 2 of our beef share filled with ground beef.

1 comment: