Eating Well, Doing Good

Lately the news has been talking much about the growing world hunger crisis. Even in the U.S., we’re all aware of the increasing costs of food. There are several reasons for what is happening. First, the rapid run up in the cost of oil has added both to the transportation cost of moving produce and meat from one location to another, and has made growing that food ever more expensive as the cost of chemical fertilizers based on petrochemicals has gone up. Secondly, the use of corn to make ethanol has taken foodstock out of the global market and again driven the cost of that foodstock up. Farmers who grew wheat and soybeans are now planting corn because they can make more money. This in turn has driven the price of scarcer wheat and soybeans up. Finally, with less subsidized corn available to feed feedlot cattle, pigs and chickens, the price of milk and meat has gone up.

So where is this all going?

Hopefully to a new, healthier and saner place where food is concerned.

Now, let me be both candid and honest. I am not happy with people starving, and people are starving. But I am happy to know that my company is actively doing something about the situation.

Free range, grass fed cattle means no use of grains for fattening out. We don’t need corn or grains. We don’t use subsidized corn and we’re not out there feeding our beef with something that could be feeding people instead.

Free range, grass fed cattle means no concentration of manure causing green house gases. To be blunt, our cattle spread out their waste over pastures that re-absorb it as another nutrient. There is almost no methane or carbon dioxide created in this process.

Free range, grass fed cattle produce meat that is healthier for you the consumer. There is no hormone and antibiotic use because cattle eating what they are suppose to be eating doesn’t need additives. And because they are eating nature’s best, they offer up more beneficial minerals, vitamins and omega-three fatty acids in their meat.

But Bastrop Cattle Company doesn’t expect the cows to do all the work!

In February, we spread compost tea on our back pasture. It’s a nice rich mixture of nature ingredients. The grass is thick and lush back there. In May, we’ll add organic fertilizers to give it another kick. The irony about all of this is that one of the arguments against organic is that its more expensive than “normal” agriculture. Well, guess what, even with both of these treatments, our costs per acre are ten to twenty percent less than just chemical fertilizer alone.

What else are we doing?

Well, Bastrop Cattle Company is local. The only time our calves get in a trailer to travel anywhere is from the ranch to the processing facility. Since all our ranchers are in a three county area right around the processing facility, the longest round trip is eighty miles. That’s still too much gas as far as we’re concerned, but it sure beats the heck out of the ranch to auction ring to Montana pasture to Nebraska feed lot to Kansas slaughter house trip! Now, I can tell you that once you join this circle, you’re also making a difference. Naturally, I want you to buy Bastrop Cattle Company meat. You can eat well and do good at the same time. But if you want to feel even better about yourself, a couple more steps will make a bigger difference.

Buy locally when it comes to all your foods!

There are weekly Farmers Markets in Austin, Manor, Smithville, Bastrop, and Elgin. Austin has three every week. Manor is just getting started on Tuesdays and is Elgin’s. Smithville is Thursday and Bastrop is Friday and Saturday. In fact, Bastrop has a brand new, bigger Farmers Market starting May 9th and 10th. It’s the 1832 Bastrop Farmers Market on Chestnut, right next to the Railroad tracks! We’ll be there.

You can also visit a new establishment called the Bastrop Producers Market on Hwy 71, just west of Bastrop that opens May 13th. This one is for all you commuters who don’t have time on Friday and Saturday. Now you can stop on your way home! It’s even on the right side of Hwy 71, so you can just zip in and zip right back out!

Finally, there are several stores in Austin that carry us and several other local producers and meat providers. Give them your business. They will get the message. The more local foods you buy, the more these stores will stock local products. And just remember, whether you buy Bastrop Cattle Company or Betsey Ross or Bandera, we all raise a product that is good for you, good for the cattle and good for the planet.

New Cuts, Deliveries

cow partsWell summer is about to start and our summer cycle of cuts is starting. We will steer away (no pun intended!) from roasts and stew meat to all those cuts that you love to cook outside. We are stocking up on lots of hamburger, ribs and brisket. Check out some of the new recipes on our website for these cuts - and an old recipe for ribs that is outstanding!

Bastrop Cattle Company would also like to share some news with you.

First, if you haven't checked out our website lately, please do! We have a new look and we are working frantically to set up for orders and payment on-line. It's also a great place to check out our latest specials and local news.

Second, BCC is now offering a new cut of meat, red veal shank. Don't let the word "veal" confuse you. BCC only sells free-range meat. Baby veal (unless otherwise labeled) is meat from calves that have been confined and force fed milk. Our veal is what William and Sonoma calls red veal. It is from calves that have a combination of grass and milk while pasturing with their mothers. It is wonderfully tender and full of flavor.

Our shanks are two inches thick with bones full of marrow and with lots of meat on them. They are perfect for Osso Buco, a northern Italian braise recipe. We have posted an excellent recipe for Osso Buco on our website. And it is truly "veal without the guilt" as our red veal shanks are $9.25/lb. more than $5.00 less per pound than anywhere else in Central Texas!

Finally, BCC wishes to remind you that we are still doing deliveries on designated days. We're pretty much the only meat supplier who still does. Deliveries are free with a minimum order and our designated delivery area is pretty large.

I do have a little bit of bad news for which I apologize. Our processing plant has raised our processing fees and like everyone else we are getting hit by gas price increases. This has led us to raise our prices - - - - but only a very little! Bastrop Cattle Company is committed to being fair with both ends of the food chain. We won't squeeze our ranchers and we won't squeeze our customers. We will honor our old prices until next week - which leads me to suggest that now is a good time to stock up! Remember properly frozen, vacuum-sealed meat stays fresh for up to a year! Buy those roasts for next fall now and save some money! Also, for those of you with freezer space - the best buy is half a calf. You lock in a good price per pound and have meat enough to feed a family of four for almost a year.

One last thing ---- thank you! Bastrop Cattle Company appreciates your business. Let me know if you need anything, or if you have a question or concern. I want to hear from you!

Thank you,
Pati Jacobs
Bastrop Cattle Company

Online Shopping at BCC

online shoppingWell it finally rained! As most of you know, we have been experiencing a mini-drought here in Central Texas. And it's really not over. However, the CJ Ranch received a little relief with over an inch and a half of rain on Monday and Tuesday of this week. There is again a nice earthy smell from the ground, as opposed to just dust, and all of the native grasses immediately went from brown to green.

Our back pasture which received the Compost T treatment this past spring never really lost its green hue, but it certainly welcomed the rain and is back in full force. Nature can be pretty resilient when given half a chance. Perhaps that is a lesson for all of the other aspects of our life as well. Watching the cost of gasoline go up and everything else dependent on it going up as well, Bastrop Cattle Company has certainly made some changes.

First, we have tightened up our delivery routes. If you are in Austin or the surrounding area, you know that you can count on a delivery on Tuesday. If you are in the Bastrop and Smithville area it's going to be on Wednesday. So far it's working for everyone. Our main artery trip in Austin is south to north and basically stretches from Todd Lane (first primary delivery is up Congress Avenue (second primary delivery is Cissi's Market) back over to Lamar (third primary delivery is Wheatsville Coop) and then up to the Arboritum area and home via 183 and 71. I'd like to thank all of our customers who are flexible and can take deliveries at their offices along the route!

Secondly, you may have had noticed our website not only has a new look, it also has a shopping cart and more information on delivery zones that we deliver within. Bastrop Cattle Company wants to continue doing home delivery, but we need you, our customers to work with us. As long as we can control our delivery costs, we will endeavor to be the only meat company that can offer this service. If you are outside our zones but work downtown, please consider an office delivery.

We'll work with you on times and place! We would also like to point out some other cost cutting methods that we use.

This month, we will start putting the newsletter and announcements into an eNewsletter. You can help us greatly with costs if you sign up to receive our announcements this way. Just sign up in any of the "Subscribe" forms on our website and we'll switch you over. Think of the trees we can save --- and I promise they're not mesquite!

Another saver; all of our ranch commercial freezers are on a grid that is hooked up to a solar array. So is the ranch house. Actually, we've been on solar power since 1999, and when we have extra electricity its fed back onto the grid. We're a proud Bluebonnet Electric Coop member - though I don't think they always appreciate our contribution! When we first put the array in, everyone laughed. Needless to say, that's not the current reaction. The array is paying itself off much faster than we ever anticipated - and will continue to do so as the cost of electricity goes up.

Also, Bastrop Cattle Company is growing. Now at first glance that doesn't sound like a sustainable lifestyle change! But it is. As we expand - which means more calves are being processed - we can work with more family ranchers and we can push our fixed overhead costs down. More cattle going to Bastrop Cattle Company means fewer to the auction ring and more cattle raised in a sustainable way. Our ranchers, including us, make a better living off the land and can thus concentrate on raising really good beef and healthy, happy animals. Additionally, a better return on ones life work means less stress and more time to think about being grass farmers - applying compost t, using organic fertilizers, doing more rotation with fewer animals and concentrating on natural breeding practices that are in sink with nature.

This applies not only to us, but to all the farmers and ranchers that you support with your business. When you visit a Farmers Market and buy local, you are helping people who live on the land make a living off their land. This means family ranchers and farmers staying put and expanding. It means using the land in a softer, more productive way --- because believe me once people go back to good methods the land responds. Nature can be a tough partner, but it can also be a rewarding one. Food from good soil tastes better and has much more nutrition.

Just like the rain replenishing the nature grasses, natural, sustainable foods replenish the body and soul. Something to think about when you pick up that local tomato or squash, or open up one of our packs of meat!