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A better, healthier cut of meat

August 5, 2011
By MIKE HUGHES - The Scene , Times Leader

A growing number of Americans are paying more attention to what passes from their plates to their stomachs.

Between the health conscious and those embracing the Paleo and Primal lifestyles and eating habits, more consumers are looking for ways to balance their love of eating meat, red in particular, with a proper diet.

But what if you could have both?

Article Photos

Photo Provided by Dickinson Cattle Company
THE?LONGHORN?cattle at Dickinson Cattle Co. in Barnesville are 100 percent grass-fed, yielding a leaner and healthier cut of beef.

Thanks to a few food producers, you can locally.

Dickinson Cattle Co. in Barnesville and CrossRoads Farm in Belmont specialize in grass-fed and pasture-raised meat products.

At Dickinson, 100 percent grass-fed Longhorn cattle are the name of the game. That would be 95-percent lean, grass-fed cattle.

''What Angus beef is to fat, Longhorns are to lean,'' Darol Dickinson said. ''Most ground beef is 60-70 percent lean.''

Another key component is the type of fat content available in the grass-fed variety of beef.

Cattle produced completely on a grass diet have up to five times more Omega-3 fatty acid than non-grass fed and a more favorable Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.

Traditionally, for those wishing to ingest Omega-3, salmon was the meal of choice. But in most cases, grass-fed beef is just as beneficial, if no more so, than the salmon.

''Our beef has 1.45 grams of Omega-3 per three ounce portion,'' Dickinson said. ''Farm-raised salmon have between 0.95-1.15 grams while wild salmon are between 1.2-1.6.

''So we are higher on average than farm-raised and variable to the wild salmon.''

But what about price? A healthier product generally is accompanied by a greater price.

At Dickinson, this is only partially true. Meat is sold in various quantities, from a pound all the way up to a full cow. But purchasing in volume can save the average family up to $800 per year. If have the storage space in an extra freezer, you can purchase a whole, half or quarter cow. Dickinson also offers canned, heat and serve grass-fed beef, along with pork and turkey.

No hormones, no steroids, no injections, just lean, grass-fed cattle raised in Belmont County.

CrossRoads too dabbles in grass-fed beef although its main products consist of chicken, turkey, lamb and pork, along with eggs.

Its eggs are readily available, but owner Eric Rubel suggests that those wishing to purchase broiler chickens, pork and lamb call in advance to reserve their order.

''I like to have people place their orders, that way they can have product year-round,'' Rubel said.

''They know about how much they will need for the year and this way, they are guaranteed to get their product.''

Like Dickinson, Rubel also emphasizes the Omega-3 content of the products he offers. And this is possible because of the grass diet the beef and lambs partake in.

Omega-3 comes from plants while Omega-6 is found in the seeds (grain) of plants. Introducing a grain-based diet to ruminate animals (cattle, sheep, goats, deer, bison) throws off the fatty acid balance.

But there is another plus to grass-fed or pasture-raised products: the taste.

''There is a definite difference, it's noticeable,'' Rubel said. ''I've had a lot of people say that it's like when they were kids and having Grandma's chicken on Sundays.

''Flavor wise, it does taste different. Store bought is pretty bland, pretty dry. This has a more rich flavor.''

The yellow fat is an indicator of a higher Vitamin A content.

For more information on Dickinson, go to CrossRoads Farm can be found online at

Hughes may be reached online at mhughes@



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