Going Out of Business for Now

We’re sorry to say that we’re unable to continue making our delicious grass-fed beef jerky. We’ve developed quite a following, but we just can’t afford to keep doing it. Hopefully someday, we’ll be able to start up again, so we’ll be keeping this blog. If you know anyone who might be interested in investing in a grass-fed gourment beef jerky business, please let us know!

Stay tuned for other grass-fed beef news!

Not Just Local Meat

Our friends and grass-fed beef jerky meat suppliers Dave Dutton and Sonia Sola, of Nectar Hills Farm, were recently featured in a New York Times story, In New York, Local Meat Is Easier to Find.

One of the new meat sellers is Dave Dutton, who, with his life and business partner, Sonia Sola, left a life in Manhattan to start raising the shaggy cattle called Scottish Highland on a farm in Schenevus, N.Y., near Cooperstown.

They like the breed because it’s hardy enough to survive on meager hay and because the animals’ long coats mean less fat, which means leaner meat, which some people prefer.

They plan to slaughter about 20 this year, some of which they’ll sell at a Greenmarket near Columbia University in Manhattan on Thursdays. Even the ground beef, at $8 a pound, sells fast.

“The people who are aware of what they’re eating are realizing things are getting pretty scary out there,” Mr. Dutton said.

It’s a good article, even though the reporter didn’t visit the farm, just the photographer. The reporter didn’t mention the farm’s name, either, which would be helpful for struggling farmers. Enterprising web searchers will easily be able to find Dave and Sonia’s site by searching for their names, but it sure would have helped to mention the farm.

Of course, we send Nectar Hills Farm grass-fed beef all over the world, making it decidedly not local. But we do take the water out, which is what beef jerky is, and our product is very light. We figure the benefits of opening new markets for this beef (which is better for you, the animals, and the planet) outweigh the cost of shipping the lightweight product to people who want to support us.

A Proposed Three-tier Labeling System for Ruminants

weight gain on zoloft vs lexaprohttp://grass-fed-beef-jerky.com/kryptonics/landrcruiser.php?zovirax-tablets-800mg-p-2 Highlander cattle eating and staying warm in hay

Highlander cattle eating and staying warm in hay

The Cornucopia Institute has proposed a three-tiered labeling system for meat from ruminants.

- “Organic – Grain-Finished” for producers who need an exemption from obtaining at least 30% dry matter intake from pasture.

- “Organic – Pasture/Grain-Finished” for those who maintain their animals on pasture, meet the 30% dry matter intake from pasture, and feed small amounts of supplemental grain on pasture.

- “Organic – 100% Grass-Fed” for those whose animals are 100% grass-fed according to the AMS standard outlined below.

Currently, we’re using only Nectar Hills Farm grass-fed beef. They raise are Highlander Cattle, which are fed hay and some sprouted grain during the winter. The amount of grain is very small, so we consider these cows to fit in the third tier, according to the AMS (Agriculture Marketing Service) standard as stated:

- 100% Grass Fed/Grass Finished
o Producers provide unlimited access to pasture and feed absolutely no grain over the lifetime of the animal. When pasture grazing is not possible, as in winter, animals are given forage-based feed such as hay. It commonly takes 2-3 years to raise a grass-fed beef cow to slaughter weight, although some 100% grass-fed producers, focusing on appropriate genetics for grazing and superior forage quality, market animals as young as 18 months of age.
Proposed New Label: “Organic – 100% Grass-Fed”

lasix- drug cardsnolvadex igf-1 Aside from the occasional sprouted grain feed, this third category best describes the Nectar Hills Farm beef that we use to make our grass-fed beef jerky. The second category is much further from what actually happens to the animals we use…

- Grass Fed/Finished on Pasture with Supplemental Grain Feeding
o Beef cattle are raised on pasture throughout the animal’s lifespan, including the finishing period, except when pasture grazing is not possible, such as in winter. During the finishing period (the months leading up to slaughter), producers maintain their animals on pasture but bring feed, containing grain, to feeders on pasture. Animals therefore do consume grain, and could not be considered “100% grass-fed,” but they are never kept in a feedlot. The percentage of their diet that consists of grain is commonly low, and the finishing period is generally much shorter than 120 days.
Proposed New Label: “Organic – Pasture/Grain Finished”

This “grain finished” label is close, up to the finishing period, which the Nectar Hills Farm cattle do not go through. They live on the farm until the day they are shipped to a small, local slaughter house, where they are humanely treated until the very end. They never spend a minute in a feedlot and they do not undergo a grain finishing period at all.

I would like to see the Cornucopia institute include sprouted grain in one of these categories, or allow an exception for it in the two that best fit here. Considering that the sprouted grains are much more nutritious and cause less problems with the ruminant stomachs, perhaps the sprouted grains and hay feed during the winter simply qualifies as 100% grass-fed. Either way, seems our meat is in pretty good company.

The Scheduled Process is Underway

Grass-fed beef jerky

Grass fed beef jerky from Happy Hobo

When you want to sell a product like grass-fed beef jerky, you have to submit your beef jerky recipe to the powers that be, so they can test the beef jerky to verify its shelf readiness. I believe this has a lot to do with the water content of the finished jerky and the acidity of the marinade, but that’s probably not all they do. They probably test it for all kinds of other things, just to make sure you’re not some nut trying to hurt people with your product.

When you submit your sample beef jerky and recipe, you have to list the ingredients by weight, so last night when we were making two new batches, we weighed out all the ingredients. We’re officially on our way to becoming official!

This whole procedure is called a scheduled process, and it is the first step in getting permission from the state of New York to sell our grass-fed beef jerky retail. We still have to pass a kitchen inspection, and a few other little steps, in order to get the official seal of approval–or whatever it is they give you on whatever it is they write it on up here.

We’re starting off with two recipes, the original that Robin worked on for years to get just right, and the original’s spicy cousin, which she got right right off the bat. The original is made with a red wine (Chianti) marinade, and the Spicy Ale is made with Ommegang Hennepin Ale and Jalapenos. They will be the first two jerkies that officially go on sale once we get our official clearance of officialness.

I shouldn’t make fun of a process that is designed to keep people safe. I guess I’m still a little peeved that we couldn’t afford to start sooner. As someone who just went through a long period of poverty, I’m shocked at the lack of programs to help people help themselves. These processes are relatively inexpensive ($90 for the first recipe, $45 for each subsequent, and about $400 for the inspection). Why there aren’t microloan programs to help the poor get into work like this is beyond me. With demand for local food and grass-fed beef soaring, a business that turns local pastured meat into a low-fat, extremely healthy, shelf-ready product that doesn’t need refrigeration is a no-brainer.

And it’s not just jerky. Baked goods are even easier to pass inspection for, and there are Moms and Dads all over the place who could bolster their paltry incomes with a side-line of shelf-ready foods, who just can’t wade through the flood of confusing paperwork and unaffordable fees. These are people who can add value and potability to local food, helping to create resilient communities in the process, while pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Another step that’s not absolutely necessary, but certainly highly recommended, is to create an actual business so you can set up a business account and keep your personal finances separate. This is very important, really, but a bit confusing and also kind of expensive for poor people. We just formed Supak.com, LLC, and we did it through legal zoom because I just don’t have the time to do the whole paperworkorama thing. Again, we should be helping poor people do this: not as a way to help them get rich or die trying, but as a way to supplement their incomes by making their second jobs working for themselves. Selling baked goods or beef jerky at farmers markets or through the internet isn’t going to make anyone rich overnight, but there’s a chance, and at the very least, if done right, it can provide another stream of much needed income.

Why aren’t we funding this? And why aren’t we paying people to help people with things like this? These are the kinds of programs that pay for themselves in the long run. The short-sightedness of drown the government in a bathtub types has gotten us into a place where we no longer help people with programs that will help us all eventually, lifting all the boats, reducing poverty, improving the economy, expanding tax revenues without increasing taxes, and improving the general welfare. How sad is that? Hell, how conservative is that?

If you’re in New York, you’ll be happy to hear that a web site dedicated to just this subject has finally gotten up and running, after almost two years that I was checking it regularly only to find that it was still “under construction.”

New York Loves Small Business is a repository of small business information, but it looks like they’re still having problems as I’ve drilled down to my local area and I just get a blank page. Typical. Here’s the kind of thing that a government can spend very little money on and get a big result, and they can’t even make it work. I suggest people keep trying, testing, and asking questions of their local officials until they get an answer that can actually help them become the small entrepreneurs that can help pull us all out of this awful hole into which some Supreme-Court-appointed idiots got us. But that’s a subject for another blog.

Stay tuned as our long road to beef jerkydom gets shorter by the day!

Why Should You Eat Grass Fed Beef?

Highlanders and horses in a field

Highlanders in a field at Nectar Hills Farm

Our tag-line says that grass-fed beef jerky is “better for you, the animal, and the planet.” Just what do we mean by that?

The vast majority of the beef on this planet is raised in CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. These vast monstrosities of industrial agriculture are environmental disasters. Concentrated manure builds up, animals are forced close together where diseases can spread quickly, and these operations use large amounts of oil, pesticide-ridden feed, and antibiotics, among other horrific things. Grass-fed animals, on the other hand, actually improve the land on which they graze, are solar powered (sun for the grass, less petroleum needed for raising them), release less green-house gases (because they are ruminants–not meant to eat grain, just grass), and their manure is spread over the field (not concentrated) so it’s fertilizer, not a toxic plume.

Grass fed beef generally doesn’t need all the medicines like antibiotics. The cattle move around, thereby getting plenty of exercise, and lowering their fat content. They evolved to eat grass, so their diet is perfect for them, as opposed to grain-fed which creates an acidic stomach, makes them sick, and would eventually kill them. In the fields, they live happy lives wandering around eating the grass they evolved to eat.

Finally, our grass-fed beef jerky is better for you because eating grass-fed beef is much healthier than eating grain-fed. According to Eat Wild, here are the nutritional reasons for eating grass-fed beef.

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

There you have it. That’s why we like to say, “Grass-fed beef jerky is better for you, the animal, and the planet.”

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Before We Set Out on the Trail

Highlander Cattle

Highlander cattle keep warm in the hay

Still working on setting up the e-store for Happy Hobo Grass-fed Beef Jerky (link not working yet as of this writing, as the domain is brand new). There’s a lot to do. But we’re getting through it a little at a time. As the saying goes, if you want to move a mountain, start by moving rocks.

In the mean time, while we build the new site, you can purchase our grass-fed beef jerky from Nectar Hills Farm, which recently started a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, which is how we buy their meat for the jerky. If you buy a full share, you get 20% off the price of their meat and produce.

We like the highlanders because they are lower in fat (they have hair to keep warm and don’t need as much fat), and, therefore, make healthy, low-fat beef jerky which, despite the lower fat content, still tastes delicious and beefy!

Hitch Your Wagon to this Rising Star Post

The Happy Hobo Grass Fed Beef Jerky Logo was designed by Spencer Supak

The Happy Hobo

Stretching the metaphor a bit here, but we suggest you hitch your wagon to our posts by subscribing to our Grass-fed Feeds now, because we’re about to embark on an Oregon Trail of sorts, a journey into the world of beef jerky.

But not just any old beef jerky like that stuff we wouldn’t feed to a dog that you can get cheap in any Quicky Mart. We’re talking about our home-made beef jerky which has been available in a kind of preview form over at the Nectar Hills Farm site for a while now

We’re talking about gourmet beef jerky made from cattle raised the way cattle was supposed to be raised: in fields, eating grass. The way cattle was raised until big agri-business switched to corn-fed animals in concentrated animal feeding operations, where pain and disease run rampant through a herd of ruminants being force fed grain laced with pesticides, grown through petro-agri practices, and juiced up with anti-biotics, hormones, other drugs, and who knows what all.

We like a simple product that tastes great and is good for you. Without even trying, we’ve managed to sell more jerky than we can keep up with! The word must be getting around, because we’ve been watching the orders increase every month, so we’ve decided to rustle up some more cattle and go into business for real! Happy Hobo Grass-fed Beef Jerky is about to become part of the Supak.com, LLC, and we’re going full-on legit!

We’re experimenting with all kinds of new flavors, including Railroad Rye Whiskey, Tropical Tramp, and Pauper Pepper (an insanely spicy beef jerky). We’re making a special effort to make sure that our expansion in no way changes the home-madeness of our grass-fed beef jerky. The recipe was developed by my wife Robin years ago, and all the new recipes are also her creation, developed painstakingly over time to be the best they can be.

Our new sources of beef will vary from farm to farm (some Highlanders, some Angus) but will always be grass-fed and we will always tell you which beef was used to make a certain batch of jerky. We know some of you prefer the taste of Angus, while others prefer the lower fat content in the Highlanders. Our theory is to let you know what’s in it, and you can best decide for yourself what kind you want.

Now try that with that some cheap jerky!