There's a lot about cows in the news right now (or should I say "in the moos?").
I don't eat much cow, but boy, what an animal. Since 1500 BC, Hindus have venerated the cow as mother goddess for her ability to give milk, especially during times of drought. Thought of as God's "useful gift," cows still remain sacred in certain areas of India.
If done right, cows can also be sacred and sustainable land managers. Simulating a wild herd is one way domestic livestock can improve the environment. Grasses, unlike trees, don't have leaves to regenerate them, so they depend on hoofed animals to cycle biomass, fertilize and aerate the soil. This is especially important during dry seasons or drought when soil microbes die or become dormant.
So Bay Areans should be celebrating in the streets now that David Evans from Marin Sun Farm is set to take over the only slaughterhouse in the Bay Area, Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp., closed earlier this year for processing cows with eye cancer. Marin Sun provides a pasture-to-fork solution for their animals. The purchase now allows them to do this for all the other small livestock producers. It's is a super win for our regional food system, and Northern California family farms and prairies. Thank you David.
True, it's awful that the nearly 9 million pound recall includes meat from many local producers that had nothing to do with the scandal, but in the long run, it's a blessing. Dave wanted to buy Rancho for a while, but the asking price was always too high. I know because I sat thru investor meetings years go. The untold story is why the recall finally forced the family to sell at an affordable price. But thank god, or dog, or how about just thank the sacred cow?
Coincidentally, my friend Pioneer Patti and I celebrated all things cow this week at Flemings in Palo Alto. I call her "Pioneer" not only because I met her there (Woodside Sunday Blues Jam, 4 - 8 PM, stop by - it rocks) but also because she grew up in Texas and Arkansas as a competitive barrel racing cow girl. Oh how I love the cowgirlz. Flemings was packed with them, and everyone else on Wednesday; we quickly learned why. What a classic steak house meal of pan-seared scallops over goat cheese polenta, French Onion soup, wedge salad, topped with a perfectly cooked filet and lobster combo ($39.95). The hot bread with Riesling Gorgonzola butter and sun dried tomato butter added to the feast. But I hang this mornings' delicious malaise on the Cappuccino S'more, a sacred dairy-filled, flame torched marshmallow and molten chocolate cake combo ($11.50). Oh my lordy, can one have a chocolate hangover? If you want one, get there now. It's only available March 9 15, in honor of the 8th annual SF International Chocolate Salon. Flemings is in a new building as Stanford Shopping Center renovates. It's interesting to just stop in and see how everything is changing around there. Don't get lost in the parking lot like I did!
Anyways, back to the cow. I know some of you don't like that I ate a little filet, and hope that Flemings might start buying some of its meat more locally. I get it. Eating cow is serious business. (1) If we are going to do it, we must have awareness and gratitude.
So let us free the cow from the feedlot back to the land to be healer; expert Shiatsu practitioners walking over the back of our planet. With hooves that dig into the soil, they feed grass roots, sequester carbon, (2) and strengthen prairies. As Mother Nature's personal masseuse, not only do cows deserve an honored role in the planetary dance of life, they deserve a tip! (FYI: cow tipping = urban myth).
If you do eat cow, please support their good life (and death), and please, please, don't eat too much. (3)
Cows are four legged bodhisattvas that bless and tend our soil, all for free.
There is a lot to revere about Divine Cow.
After all, moo is just oom (the sacred chant) spelled backwards.
Wes Jackson from The Land Institute modeling healthy prairie grass and roots. Note the actual grass starts at his right hand and is only about a foot in length.
(1) U.S. is the largest beef producer in the world. Conventionally raised livestock contributes up to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, requiring 22 billion pounds of oil-based fertilizer and 2 trillion pounds of pesticides annually. Producing 1# animal protein requires 100 times more water than 1# of grain protein. One cow excretes 120 pounds of manure daily.
(2) Carbon in the atmosphere is a liability. Carbon in the soil is an asset.
(3) Average American eats about 60 pounds of beef per year, three times the recommendation. Portion size should be a deck of cards, maximum three times a week.
- Cool Cuisine, Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming, 2008.
Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
180 El Camino Real #2, Palo Alto, CA 94304