Friday Favorites

It’s Friday! I mean, late Friday, so almost Saturday, but still.

So. September’s almost gone. Can we all agree that it flew by? This week’s highlights include Buster’s induction into the 100th percentile club, our curtains all getting put up (!!!), Wacey’s vocabulary continuing to astonish us, and my very late-to-the-game obsession with Vikings. I am in the process of growing out my hair and I have such braid envy.

This Friday Favorites’ theme is Octobery Things. I’m a little bit at a loss about what to do with myself now that we don’t wean calves all of October, but this is the first year that Wace can get into Halloween so I’m sure we’ll make it work.

Favorite I Think I Can Actually Attain This: Bathroom Storage. You know how it is–you’re moving or remodeling, you jump on the interwebs and have all.the.ideas and then realize, one month in, that you’re sick of unpacking, building, and spending money, and promptly get real about your expectations. I like this. It’s simple, it’s pretty, and a variation would work nicely in both of the bathrooms. I already have two of these metal baskets, which I really like and are so affordable I’ll be ordering a couple more.

baskets
Favorite Yes-I’ll-Jump-On-This-Bandwagon-Thank-You-Very-Much: BeautyCounter cleanser. Hi, the new house has harder water and I need to change up my skincare routine. This has everything I’m looking for–gentle, not drying, affordable–with excellent reviews and clean ingredients to boot.
BC CleanserFavorite Sweets: Brookies. My mom got us some killer monster-esque bars from Costco right before we moved and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. Since the closest Costco is 160 miles away (womp womp), we’ll have to make these at home which I totally don’t mind because hi, it’s fall, so it’s time to bake. I think this recipe topped with M&Ms might do the trick. I shall report back.
brookies
Favorite Get-In-My-Yeti: Sparkling Hard Apple Cider SangriaSparkling Hard Apple Cider Sangria. I am not a big drinker at all. But can you tell me anything more festive than strolling through the crisp fall air sipping on something light and cidery? Yep it doesn’t exist.

cider sangria
Favorite Mama+Mini Festive Treat: Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins. I am SO excited to make these with Wacey. They’re so cute and a perfect treat to make with little hands. Also: Rice Krispie Treats are deeeeeelish.
krispies
Favorite OMG THE ANTICIPATION: Mini Pumpkins. I can’t wait can’t wait to take the boys to pick out pumpkins next week. I make myself wait until October to get pumpkins and it’s herrreeeeeee. Next year, I think I’m going to grow them at home and have a mini pumpkin patch because I love little pumpkins that much.

mini pumpkins
little white pumpkins
Favorite I Ought To Wait Till Christmas But I Don’t Know If I Can: Mini Mocs. Wacey’s feet are always cold at home, but he hates wearing shoes and socks inside. He’s always wanting to wear “Dad shoooooooz”  so I think he’d love having a little pair of his own.
toddler mocs

K that about wraps it up kids. This weekend, I’m doing real big exciting things like organizing the storage container and finally mucking out the mud room since it’s supposed to stop raining for a day or two. Although, dull as it is, if that actually gets done, I’ll be one happy gal because that’s one giant leap closer to us being 100% moved in.

Oh and I’ll be watching waaaaay too much Vikings because I can’t stop.

let's visit

Upcycling: Bovine Edition

Last week, in our Wednesday “Let’s Visit” series, we talked about what kind of beef options are available for you to eat, based upon certain criteria you may have. This week we’re going to visit about what cows eat.

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I mean, cows eat grass, right? Totally. But cows also eat lots of other things. Pastures are not like your lawn (unless your lawn is like my lawn, which is literally just a fenced-off, irrigated chunk of pasture). They are filled with grass, yes, but also with other plants like legumes, weeds, flowers, and brush. On pasture, cows will eat seemingly strange things, like beans from mesquite trees, willow bushes, flowers, and even thistle. Bert claims he saw a cow eat a rock once, so there’s that. Cattle can also graze on corn and wheat pastures after the crops have been harvested, too. Cattle really are talented upcyclers–they take things that we consider “junk” or that we can’t eat, and convert it to things that we can. This is handy since 85% of the land that cattle graze in the United States is not suitable for human food production.

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cornstalks.jpgsource

But, a cow’s affinity for upcycling doesn’t stop in the pasture. We talk a lot about “grain-finished” beef, which can paint the picture that cattle in feedlots are fed grain of the “amber waves” variety that you’d imagine could be used to make bread and cereal and such for human consumption. In reality, 86% (over 90% in the United States) of the total food that cows eat is not edible by humans. Some of this is the “1.9 billion metric tons of leftovers from human food, fiber, and biofuel production” like wheat stalks, cottonseed, and distillers grains that would otherwise potentially become an environmental burden. They can also eat cast-offs and extras of human foods that might be thrown away and wasted like dropped pickles and rejected skittles.

feedlot cattlesource

And, beef is an important part of the global diet. I’m not just saying that because I’m a rancher, the FAO is saying that, too. Livestock in general and cows specifically have an integral place in the global food system, and it’s not as a “stealer” of human food.

The very best part is that we’re getting better. We’re learning how to do more with less, how to use genetics and science to help us make our herds and feed more efficient, and how to lessen our impact on the environment every step of the way. I really recommend checking out the articles I’ve linked to here (FAO, Upcyclers) because they both talk about brand-new research about beef and its impact on global food security.

Basically, we need to give cows more credit, because if they were on Iron Chef and you were like “Uhhhhhhhh that’s not food,” they’d be like “Au contraire, mon frère,” even if y’all aren’t brothers, or French, and then they’d proceed to make a masterpiece out of skittles and wheat midds and you’d be sunk.

Until Friday, kids, unless of course my computer actually kicks it.  I thought it was dead, but turns out the old dinosaur just needed an extended break, which is happy mistake on my part. 2018 will likely be the Year of the New Laptop, however, because this old girl is on her last legs.

(Open to recommendations! I need something not too expensive that will do Word, Excel, and photo editing that isn’t a beast to carry around.)

Anyways.

We’ll get down on Friday.

let's visit

There’s A Beef For That

Last week, I talked about some common misconceptions I hear all the time regarding beef and beef production. This week, we’re going to visit about something that gets equal time in the social media sphere: what kind of beef you should be eating.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of beef you should eat, or what kind of beef you shouldn’t eat. I will tell you, though that the standards for beef quality and safety in the United States are very high, so no matter what you’re getting a top-notch product.

However, if you’re wanting something specific, I can help you with how to find beef that suits what you’re looking for. This is not an exhaustive list, but includes some of the more mainstream, easy-to-find certifications. Remember those “There’s an app for that!” commercials? Well, there’s a beef for that!

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If you’re looking for beef that was never given antibiotics, look for:
USDA Certified Organic
— “Raised/Grown Without Antibiotics” “No Antibiotics Administered” or similar, look for USDA seal
—  
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
American Grassfed Association
Things to remember: “Antibiotic-Free” has no legal meaning with the USDA. “Natural” doesn’t mean anything other than “minimally-processed” with no added colors or artificial ingredients–this is true of all fresh meat. “No Antibiotic Residues” means that the meat has no residues, but no meat does, so again, meaningless. Also, please remember what I wrote last week: no matter what, the meat you eat has been tested for antibiotic residues. You are not eating antibiotics even if these labels are not on the meat that you purchased. When animals are sick, treating them is the right thing to do.

If you’re looking no growth hormones:
USDA Certified Organic
NHTC
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
American Humane Certified
American Grassfed Association
— “No Hormones Administered” plus a USDA seal
Things to remember: “Hormone-Free” is not a thing, since all meat has hormones in it.

If you’re looking for beef from cattle that were fed no animal byproducts:
USDA Certified Organic
Never Ever 3
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
Certified Humane
American Humane Certified (specifies “no ruminant-derived protein sources with the exception of milk and milk products)
American Grassfed Association

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If you’re looking for a certification for humane treatment or animal welfare:
Global Animal Partnership
Animal Welfare Approved
Certified Humane
American Humane Certified
Things to remember: I say “a certification for humane treatment” because humane treatment truly is the standard in the United States. Some producers pay to have a third-party verification service come in to review and verify their claims or their participation in animal welfare programs. I would encourage you to look into these individually, as their standards vary quite a bit since this category is subjective. Don’t worry, I plan on doing a whole post about this one. Also, a claim of “Humanely Raised and Handled,” even with a USDA seal, doesn’t mean much, since companies make their own standards.

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If you’re looking for beef that comes from cows that were only fed grass:
American Grassfed Association (no confinement)
–the USDA also offers a grassfed certification, but their standards do not address confinement, hormones, or antibiotics.
Food Alliance grass-fed program
Things to remember: uncertified “grass-fed” labels can mean that the animal did, in fact, eat only grass for most of its life (like all cattle)–but could have been finished on grain. Also, read up on the organization doing the certifying and their standards since they all have differences regarding antibiotics, hormones, confinement, etc. You might also find a lot of grass-fed beef from Australia, since grassfed is the status quo there. If country of origin is important to you, take this into account.

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If you’re looking for beef that comes from cows that were always on pasture:
Global Animal Partnership Step 5-5+
American Grassfed Association
Animal Welfare Approved
Things to remember: just having “pasture-raised” isn’t enough if you’re wanting no confinement at all, since all beef is raised on pasture (but could be finished elsewhere).

If you’re looking for American-raised beef:
American Grassfed Association requires all of its beef to come from family-owned American farms.
— Farmer’s Markets or meat co-ops. Lots of ranches and farms will sell meat to you by the quarter, half, or whole animal and it will be processed locally. If you need help finding someone near you, poke around on Google or Facebook, contact your local cattleman’s association, or shoot me an email!
Things to remember: because the country-of-origin labeling for beef is no longer required, you might feel uncertain. But, more than 90% of the beef consumed in the US was produced by American farms and ranches.

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Some retailers, like Whole Foods, have their own standards, so feel free to ask your retailer about their store’s requirements for the beef they sell. There are also now meat subscription boxes, like Butcher Box, that curate their meat based upon certain standards.

I get asked a lot what kind of beef we eat. Because we’re ranchers, we eat beef that we raise. We have two deep-freezers that we fill with meat every year, and have gotten half a pig the last couple of years too. Some of the animals we’ve eaten have been conventionally-raised and given antibiotics. Some have been mostly grass-fed. Last year we ate a bull that got culled later on because his scrotum was too small. Last year’s pig wasn’t big enough to show, so they sent it to be processed. We’ve had pretty much every variety on this list!

And lastly: I’m so into you meeting your farmer. This doesn’t mean I think you should only eat locally-raised meat because, like I said, I’m not here to tell you what you should eat. But, go visit a farm or ranch! Actually, visit both. Talk to the people who do this for their life’s work. Ask them your questions, visit awhile. See how your food is grown and cared for. It will give you more tools to decide what criteria is important to you. Like I said last week, if you’re needing help finding a ranch to visit, holler!