The Colorado Cuts
Recognizing the Value, Investing in Your Health
Photos by Victoria Edstedt
The food scene in BOCO is flourishing: new restaurants are opening every other month, if not more often. People have so many choices of where to eat that it becomes harder to stand out. Choosing the place that serves you best is more difficult. As a result, chefs are going after traditional ways of delivering key ingredients in order to present fresh, exciting dishes. Meat is one of those ingredients, but how is it getting to your plate?
There are endless meat options in Colorado, including wholesalers and supermarkets. Many organic-oriented places though, prefer to work with local distributors who put quality and animal environment first. Corner Post Meats is a free range ranch in Black Forest, North of Colorado Springs, that supplies directly to home consumers as well as restaurants along the Front Range. “We really want to be that face-to-face connection,” Adrienne Larrew, the owner, said. “When people are looking for something authentic, they find us.”
According to Andrew Van Stee, head-chef at Cart-Driver, Corner Post is a great source of high-end meat. “They are very responsible and they are doing it right,” he said. “A lot of big ranches will supplement with corn feed, where they [Corner Post] are using grain and grass.” Corner Post ranchers take a hands-off approach, which means animals are moving regularly as opposed to being locked up in confining quarters.
“We are using animals as a tool to improve the land. I am not just providing them a happy life, but building soils,” Matt Koster said. Koster is one of five ranchers who work at the Corner Post and pride themselves in encouraging new growth by preserving natural habitats. They do pasture-raised poultry, grass-finished beef and lamb, and forest-raised pork. “You are getting a better product if you are interfering as least as possible,” Birkholz said about the meat he buys. “It’s especially porky without tasting like a fake or processed.”
In addition to a rich flavor, meats from smaller, local farms and ranches have a higher nutritious value. When the time comes, animals there are slaughtered with great care and professionalism. Here is why it matters: a handful or researches, including Colorado’s own Temple Grandin, showed that after an animal’s death glycogen in their muscles is converted into lactic acid, which makes the meat tender and savory. If an animal lived a stressful life (that itself influences protein composition) and was frightened or stressed before slaughter, adrenaline makes the final product tough, bland, and less healthy.
“It can be an ethical thing,” Birkholz said. What’s appealing to him about Corner Post is not only the way their animals are raised, but how humanely they are slaughtered. All the parts are used and nothing is going to waste. “You don’t feel guilty when you are consuming it,” Birkholz said. “There are all kinds if meat producers these days out of Lafayette, Louisville, Arvada, Denver and Boulder. I would say 90% of them are doing really cool stuff. Colorado is a grassland, so this is a perfect place to raise large life stock.”
Whether eating well is your lifestyle or you are a foodie and just enjoy the experience of it – having greater awareness and intentional thinking behind your actions is what makes the difference. “It is a shift in a mindset of what you are paying for,” Larrew said. “Are you paying upfront for health costs and quality fuel for your body or are you buying some- thing that is a lower sticker price at the store, but then has residual expenses down the road because you are not investing in your health?”
It’s a good question to ask next time you reach out for ribeye steaks priced at $10.99 per pound in Safeway or go out for a burger at a chain restaurant. Is it worth it? Is it worth it, when you have access to all these great places like Blackbelly Butcher, Boulder Natural Meats and a variety of farmers’ markets during the year? If you want to expand your knowledge about cooking and get the most out of your food, don’t fall for the cheapest, easiest thing.
“In 2018 we are starting a 90-day farmer boot camp for people who are interested in coming and learning what we do and how we do it,” Larrew said. “We are always on this quest to be better.” Start your own quest to become a mindful consumer: try new places, talk to local vendors, experiment and have fun. A balanced diet is a personal journey and there is no one recipe that feeds us all.