Home on the range

Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:09 PM

“All flesh is grass.”

Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma

Farmers and ranchers grow food and raise meat. They’re also in the business of growing grass.

Animals are part of a food chain in which grass is the foundational element. “All agriculture is at its heart a business of capturing free solar energy in a food product (grass) that can then be turned into high-value human energy.” This comes from a Joel Salatin, a farmer from the Shenandoah Valley, and who is interviewed by Pollan in Omnivore’s Dilemma. Because high-quality meat depends on high-quality pasture, many ranchers – like Salatin – refer to themselves as “grass farmers.” He explains that there are more nutrients in a well-managed acre of pasture grass, specifically proteins and carbohydrates, than there are in an acre of field corn.

Grass-fed animals are leaner and have fewer calories and cholesterol than their grain-fed counterparts; they’re rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fats and low in heart-unhealthy omega 6 fats.

Red Canyon Farm in McElmo Canyon offers grass-fed lamb. Owner Kim Lindgren articulates the rationale for her choice this way: “Grass-fed meat products have the proper ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Our chemistry should be high in omega 3 and low in omega 6, but the American diet is flipped around. One of the easy ways to come by the omega 3 and to restore that balance is through grass-fed meat.”

You can also try bison from W Lazy D Bison Co., owned by local ranchers Danny and Jeanie Wilkin. It’s antibiotic and hormone-free too.

Cecilia Berto of Berto Farm features USDA-inspected and processed pork. And Pitts Family Ranch sells shares of milk from pasture-raised and fodder-fed dairy cows. They’re also taking orders for chickens and Christmas turkeys.

Ground lamb, bison, beef, pork, or turkey pair up well with vegetables in season at the market. Any combination of these meats makes a terrific meatloaf. Meatloaf is one of the most forgiving dishes; there’s not much you can’t stuff inside a meatloaf. Here’s a basic recipe for local meat choices and just waiting for your secret special ingredient.


From Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis


2 medium onions, diced

1 ½# ground beef or bison

½ # ground pork or lamb

2 T prepared horseradish

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp dried thyme

½ C minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley


2 large eggs

¼ c milk

2 C fresh bread crumbs

Combine together, working with your hands until everything is incorporated.

Place in a 10x13 baking dish or bread pan.

Slather the top with ¼ C ketchup.

Lay bacon strips (3-5), raw, diagonally across the width of the loaf.

Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and brown around the edges.

Let rest for 5 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan, and tent loosely with foil. Let rest an additional 5-10 minutes before slicing.

If you’re looking for alternative protein sources, stop by the Friends of the Market booth and check out the Bow and Arrow line of products from Ute Mountain Farm. You’ll find bags of non-GMO, gluten-free, whole-grain blue, red, yellow and white corn meal, all grown and milled in Towaoc. The booth also features locally grown heritage beans such as cannellini, pink eye, Colorado river beans, bolitas, and Zuni Gold grown by Mike Coffey, a fourth-generation dryland farmer from the LaPaloma Dove Creek Bean Co.

According to Michael Pollan, 92 cents of a consumer’s food dollar ends up in the “pockets of processors, middlemen, and retailers.” That equation is no longer true when you shop at the Cortez Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

IJoin friends and neighbors who are helping to support local, sustainable, and healthy eating practices here at home.