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Beef Terroir

Have you ever tasted beef and wondered how it gets its complex flavors or what part of the world it comes from? Or did the last time you had steak get you thinking about how a natural, grass-only diet affects the meat’s unique characteristics?

No? Well, most people don’t think this way since this sort of pondering is usually associated with wine connoisseurs. Even people who are unsure of the distinctions between a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc understand the quality of the land, air and care each vineyard receives affects its taste.

So why wouldn’t that same concept of terroir influence the taste of pasture-raised cows? We believe it does, and here at Rafter W Ranch, we’re producing good quality meat with beef terroir to prove just that.

Terroir applies to more than just wine.

Terroir, pronounced ter-whar, is defined as the environmental conditions that give food its distinct characteristics. Our cows are fed no grains, which have been shown to “create an acidic environment in their digestive systems, leading to disease and the need for treatment with antibiotics,” according to American Grassfed. Soy, grains, and corn are prominent food for cattle in the commercial beef industry, which focuses on fattening up animals quickly. American Grassfed also states, “Research shows that grass-fed meat is lean, contains a high percentage of good fats – Omega 3s and CLA — and beneficial antioxidant vitamins and minerals.”

Our cattle are moved to new pastures daily and freely graze on fresh forage, while our chickens help clean up after the cows leading to rich, fertilized grassland.

“It does make sense: the physical geography will determine how things taste,” explains Canada’s Niagara College professor Michael Olson. “When it comes to our steak at dinner, we likely consider its triple-A grade or perhaps it’s Black Angus breed, but what is increasingly recognized as important is what the animal ate and its impact on flavor and texture.”

So the next time you sit down for a beef dinner, we hope you taste the flavors and complexities that come from clean air, fertilized pastures and natural farming practices like that of the Rafter W terroir.