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 At Seattle Met’s  inaugural Cowabunga (3-day festival of beef taking over South Lake Union October 13-15th) we will be sampling, tasting and serving up the best of what beef has to offer!

The Washington State Beef Community focuses on ethically raised beef on local and sustainable farms. With almost 9,000 farm families, this community is large. “You'll hear ranchers like the Waddingtons refer to their ranch as a "cow-calf operation". They are describing the first step in the beef lifecycle, whereby mother cows produce calves on an annual basis. Those calves are raised, nursing their mothers and grazing until they are about 500-700 lbs. At that point they are ready for the feeding stage, where they grow to slaughter weight on a balanced diet of forage and grains.”

These ranchers are thinking not only about the care of the animal, the quality of the beef, but also the flavor profiles of each steak and cut. That is why Cowabugna will be the best place to try all of Washington’s finest cuts. Including juicy and tender samples from Country Natural Beef, Oregon Country Beef and Agri Beef’s four brands which bring a true ranch-to-table experience to carnivores across the world.

Snake River Farms offers the finest in American wagyu beef, right from your own back yard. No need to travel across the world for this exquisite cut, Snake River Farm’s wagyu is the “best of both worlds”.

Double R. Ranch, from the Okanagan region of Washington State, has mouth watering steak with USDA Choice and represents the top end of the marbling scale. 

St. Helens Beef is Northwest grain-fed beef which offers a USDA Choice Premium Angus Beef with a rich flavor and packed with protein for every meal.

Rancho El Oro has a diverse portfolio of beef cuts at an excellent price. This lean, grain-fed beef is a gold standard for specialized cuts and offers first-class service and bilingual support.

Ready for some Beef 101?

If you are one of those people who often find themselves asking where does your food come from and how do you know if beef can be a healthy part of your diet? Here are the top 5 farm to fork issues that the Washington State Beef Commission tackles on their website.

#1 Is beef environmentally sustainable?

In the current era of selling off start-ups and flipping real estate, farming and ranching is an outlier, grounded in the concept of passing the practice on from one generation to the next. Because resources like water and land are the most important factors in raising cattle, farmers and ranchers must be sustainability minded to succeed.

#2 Can beef be part of a healthy diet?

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study, consuming lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, experienced a 10 percent decline in LDL "bad" cholesterol. The study evidence shows that eating lean beef every day, as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, can improve cholesterol profiles. The improvements in heart-health risk factors seen from the BOLD diets were as effective as those from the DASH diet and other heart-healthy diets.

#3 Is beef from cattle given antibiotics safe to eat?

There is no difference in the safety of beef from cattle that have received an antibiotic and those which have not. Here is how we know beef from cattle given antibiotics is safe:

  • Farmers and ranchers follow veterinarian-developed protocols to determine if an animal needs an antibiotic to recover from a bacterial illness. 
  • When it is determined that antibiotics are needed, only FDA approved treatments are used, according to the label. 
  • Cattlemen then adhere to the label-designated withdrawal period and never ship cattle to slaughter prior to when the drug leaves the animal's system
  • If the beef from cattle shipped to slaughter tests positive for antibiotic residue, that beef is not put into the food supply, the farmer isn't paid, and he can be banned from selling cattle for slaughter.

#4 What do the USDA grades Prime, Choice, and Select mean?

USDA Prime Prime grade beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. Only about 1%-2% of beef carcasses achieves a Prime grade. It has abundant marbling. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling). The premium eating experience, and rarity of Prime graded beef is what explains it's prime price tag and place at white tablecloth restaurants and steakhouses. 

USDA Choice Most of the beef sold by local retailers in the northwest is Choice. It is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful for grilling and roasting. Cuts from the Round and Chuck may be best prepared by braising in liquid. 

USDA Select Select beef is available at some local grocers. It is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

#5 How Can I buy beef from a local farmer or rancher? 

  • Beef that is sold by the package in a retail manner legally must be slaughtered at a USDA inspected plant. A USDA inspected plant has a USDA safety inspector on-site at all times when animals are being slaughtered.
  • To purchase beef directly from a farmer that will not be slaughtered at a USDA inspected site, legally you must purchase a whole, or a share of a live animal, and coordinate slaughter and processing on-farm or at another facility that is licensed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Custom Exempt Program.
  • Meat packages must be labeled "NOT FOR SALE" and must be consumed by the purchaser.

Now that you’ve fed you mind, get ready to eat your heart out … literally! Cowabunga tickets are selling like hot cakes and on sale now. Find beef from Country Natural, Oregon Country Beef and Agri and Cowabunga’s The Big Tent, and Seared. Learn more about the events, our partners, and see which chefs will be serving up. Get your ticket today - it’s time to get mooooooving!