Tuesday, May 8, 2012

High Yield Investment - Steak again?

Like most kids, mine would pound through the door and ask "What's for dinner?" After receiving the answer I would often get the response of "Steak again?"

Not too long ago I surveyed the freezer and realized that we had almost $5,000 worth of organically grown beef in our stuffed to the brim old chest model. The upright held the overflow. How much is almost 1,000 pounds of beef? We had fillet mignon, prime rib, t-bone, rib steak, porterhouse, sirloin, round steak, rib roast, rolled roast, and hamburger that was as good as steak. We didn't have to wonder how much the fat content was because there was no fat content, it had been cut off and now we had to add oil to the pan when we cooked it. It tasted as good as steak because it was steak, since we had more steaks than any person could want we threw those in also and ground them with the other cuts. All this for well under $1 a pound.

Who would argue that an investment that multiplied more than 4 times in two years was not a good return? And, no matter how the stock market bumped and dipped there was still meat in the freezer. The best news of all is that this does not have to be a deal that only country people can take advantage of though they do get the best return for the money. If you live within driving distance to a rural area a once a year trip to the country can provide many of the same economic and health benefits of the small farmer.

We have heard the horror stories of the main steam cattle feedlot and many have become vegetarians in protest of the conditions in which these animals are raised and the health issues that mass greed production has inspired. The life of small farm animal is not the same.

We raised two or more beef animals at a time. They were raised from birth or purchased at three to six months of age. From there they had all the pasture they could eat supplemented with hay in the winter months. Some farmers supplemented the feed with grain to produce a richer meat and higher fat content but we preferred the leaner less marbleized beef. Breed had much to do with the meat as well and Black Angus is known and idealized as a good breed for producing some of the best steaks. Their temperament is more feisty than others so are not often the choice for the small farmer who prefer the more mellow breeds of Simmental, Limousin, and others.

After raising a number of different animals we decided on the Dutch Belted which are pictured in the lower left hand corner. These animals are mellow and both good milk and beef stock and are almost extinct. Their origin was Europe and they were known as the breed of kings. The reason was that the belt around their middle is dominant and genetically passed on to their offspring. In this way the king was able to recognize his own cattle and punishments were stiff for those who were caught stealing them or raising them as their own. It was our hope to help increase the population of this wonderful animal who was said to be the original producer of Tillamook Cheese and Ice Cream.

So why would a city person want to know all this? Food is an investment. An investment in ourselves, our children, and our nations economic structure. Just as importantly, so that you can select the best steak you can buy from the best conditions. Some study the stock market pages whose return is risky at best, livestock on the other hand has a more expected and predictable pattern of growth and return on investment.

Brief soapbox message: I make no secret or no apology that one of the purposes that I hope to convey with this blog is the hope that the city man in the $1,000 suit will be able to interact and shake hands with the man in the overalls and that they both may be able to recognize and acknowledge the contribution both is making to our way of life and economy. To not do so is at our own peril as we get farther and farther from even knowing the source of our own food supply. By taking it so much much for granted we run the risk of having it changed, altered, or controlled without our knowledge. To learn more about agriculture and the challenges faced pick up the Capital Press and you can amaze and astound your friends. We are all on the same team striving to rebuild our nation's economy therefore it is important for the right hand to know what the left is doing or why. It's really not about politicians and Washington D.C. It's about us, the people, our way of life and country. Isn't food on the table our number 1 priority when it gets right down to it?

Back to our beef investment topic. Even if you live in a city high rise condo there are ways to take advantage of the best opportunities to invest in beef for yourself and family. Buying a whole or half a beef from a rancher will not save as much as growing your own but cuts out many of the middle men who jack up the price and often reduce the quality all along the way.

Who do you know in farming communities within reasonable driving distance from your home? Maybe this is an opportunity that has always been available you have just not taken the first step to bring it to pass. There are some restrictions that apply in buying directly from the farmer so this is something to discuss with them if you want to pursue it.


Practical Parsimony said...

My hope it to one day be able to purchase grassfed beef and put it in the freezer. Also, I would really like to raise hens just for meat and have someone slaughter them for me. Right now, all this is not possible.

Carol Schultz said...

Well considering the options and open to new ways of doing things is the first step and I'm sure you will get there.