Raising grass-fed beef on the Coastside for local consumption

By on Tue, April 27, 2010

Ranchers on Peninsula Open Space Trust land in San Gregorio are raising grass-fed beef for local consumption, reports Julia Scott in the County Times.

Erik and Doniga Markegard say they make a much better profit selling their certified grass-fed beef directly to 100 local families and three Half Moon Bay restaurants each year than they would by auctioning their animals to a food processor. [...]

He and his wife, Doniga, a permaculture expert, launched Markegard Family Grass-Fed in 2006 to contribute to the burgeoning local food movement. Word spread fast, and the Markegards have doubled the amount of beef they offer each year. They lease 3,000 acres in San Mateo and Sonoma counties.

Their farmhouse — a dwelling out of "Little House on the Prairie" with a single wood-fired stove to keep their three young children warm — sits on a 1,000-acre working ranch owned by the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which supports the Markegard’s land management ethic.

"When grazers are managed properly, you sequester carbon, create perennial grasslands and reduce the need for a lot of external inputs," explained apple-cheeked Doniga Markegard, 29, over a breakfast of homemade chocolate-chip scones.

The ranch has 50 CSA shares available at this time. Shares are sold by quarter-animal, half-animal or whole beef, as well as by pound and by cut of beef. Customers pick up their shares in Half Moon Bay, San Francisco or Petaluma, although most customers live in San Mateo County.

Proponents of grass-finished beef have long touted its health benefits. The meat contains less fat and more beneficial fatty acids than that of cows kept in pens and fed corn or other grains.

But the taste is what keeps Half Moon Bay’s Pasta Moon coming back for more. The restaurant, which serves dishes with homegrown vegetables and locally caught fish, buys two or three Markegard Family cows a year and uses all the parts in the kitchen, even the tongue. [...]

To learn more about Markegard Family Grass-Fed, visit http://markegardfamilygrassfed.wordpress.com or e-mail [email protected]. To inquire about LeftCoast Grassfed, call 650-879-2147.