With increased awareness around humanely raised livestock, it’s not surprising that pioneer David Evans of Marin Sun Farms is once again ahead of the curve in his industry. Last year he merged with Claire Herminjard’s Mindful Meats to offer a certified organic, non-GMO verified line of pasture-raised beef that is made exclusively from dairy cows.
Though life has improved dramatically for cows that are raised by organic dairy producers, many, like factory cows, face the same fate—they are sold cheaply and mixed in with commodity meats. With their “dual purpose animal agriculture” philosophy, Mindful Meats aims to change this practice. Instead of sending off cows to large-scale processors, the company sources cows at the end of their dairy-producing lives (mostly Holsteins and Jerseys) from select, organic Sonoma and Marin county dairies.
“I like to call it upcycling,” says Marin Sun Farms’ Marketing and Livestock Supply Manager Alessa Palmer, who describes the meat as darker, more robust, rich and marbled. “It’s a different eating experience,” but one that restaurant chefs are embracing. A handful of San Francisco and Marin restaurants are buying the meat, and Spanish chef José Andrés is a supporter and fan.
As homesteading and sustainable living practices become more mainstream, this approach to butchery is resonating for many. Before the days of industrialized meat production, when a dairy cow no longer produced milk, she was slaughtered and eaten. She remained on the same farm her entire life, and even at the end—she was not shipped off to parts unknown, but rather stayed in the same region where she was born and raised. If that is not the definition of humane, I’m not sure what is.
Mindful Meats can be found at Good Earth Natural Foods stores in Fairfax and Mill Valley; marinsunfarms.com; mindfulmeats.com.