In recent years, consumers have increased their interest in the way farmers and manufacturers handle the foods they eat. West Coast Prime Meats has responded to that concern by partnering with natural meat packer Creekstone Farms Premium Beef.
Many natural meat packers test their animals to ensure they are antibiotic-free. Creekstone Farms goes many steps further; The company’s Never, Ever program tracks each animal for its entire life, sourcing back to the farm where it was born to make sure it never received hormones or antibiotics, was fed a vegetarian diet, was treated humanely and was born and raised in the United States.
“Our Natural program is Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care,” company spokesperson Christine Tanner explains. “That means you can be assured that we have met strict standards for humane treatment of our animals.”
Tanner’s claims come with the backing of Temple Grandin, the animal-rights advocate who advises slaughterhouses on best practices. Creekstone Farms’ Arkansas City, Kansas, facility “was actually designed by Grandin. It’s all indoors, all temperature controlled. The animals are able to move naturally. They are able to relax, for up to four to six hours. It’s very peaceful. That allows for a certain respect for the sacrifice of the animal as well as a better product,” Tanner states.
Creekstone Farms began in 2003 as a Black Angus processor. The company has since added Duroc pork to its line-up. “We began with a goal to get back to the basics of what the Black Angus breed stood for – tender and flavorful beef,” Tanner maintains. “That goal led us to focus on quality in everything we do – from the way the cattle are raised all the way through to the practices we follow in processing.” That improves the flavor of the beef, she asserts, saying, “it tastes the way beef should taste.”
“We hand-select our cattle, we have people out in the field who can look at an animal and recognize Black Angus traits, if the genetics are there,” she continues. “Our validation that we choose the right cattle is that we grade so much higher than average. “We grade at 85 percent Choice and higher, and at 12 percent Prime. The industry average of Prime is two percent,” she asserts. Tanner credits that to the Angus breed but also to the farmers and ranchers they work with year after year, “who are doing the right thing, with low stress and great feeding programs,” she says.
In addition, the Creekstone Farms team dedicates itself to a top-notch product. As Tanner describes it, “we have 650 people working together to make sure the quality of the product is something customers are proud to put on their table.”
More often than not, what customers choose to serve these days differs from prior generations, where meat was the center-of-the-plate star. Today, Tanner’s research shows that more people serve meat as an ingredient. But they also lack the tools to prepare roasts and steaks, she fears. “There’s no formal education on cooking at school. There used to be ‘independent living’ classes, but schools don’t have the funding anymore. With millennials, it’s important. They are interested in cooking and watch the cooking programs, but they don’t have basic kitchen skills.”
To meet that challenge, Creekstone Farms provides recipes, such as the lime-marinated flank steak featured here, and cooking instructions on its website. Tanner also suggests experimenting with lesser known cuts, such as the petite tender, also known by the muscle’s Latin name, teres major. That is a shoulder muscle that rarely moves, producing a steak second only in tenderness to the filet mignon. “It’s perfect for small families,” she says.
Photos courtesy of Creekstone Farms