Not All Meat Is Created Equal

Category: Video Episodes

About This Episode

If you like to eat meat, we'd like to share a tip. From the field to the table, there’s almost nothing equal between conventionally made beef, poultry and pork, and ethically, sustainably produced meat. There are some compassionate and fascinating people out there who’ve dedicated important parts of their lives to raising livestock and preparing meat with our water, air, soil, health and taste buds in mind. We're excited to introduce a few of them to you.

But, perhaps you're an herbivore reading this and you're wondering, "Why the heck is a website dedicated to ethical eating doing an episode on meat?!" Listen, we really do share most of your convictions and appreciate that the ethics of eating meat are not trivial. Sincerely, we do. What Tasty Guide wants is to approach the American table as it is set today, and today, most people serve up meat. We know many of you believe there is a small but wonderfully tasty place for meat in your diet and we want to help you find the BEST there is.


The People

J.D. Fratzke is Chef and Managing Partner of Strip Club Meat and Fish in St. Paul, MN. He describes his menu as “nothing more than what we want to eat and what we want to cook for our friends.” But there’s a great deal of thought, and philosophy, behind the food J.D. makes for his customers. He begins with a belief that care for the health and well-being of the animals, the people, and the environment in which the food is raised, contributes to the pleasure of eating. A visit to the Strip Club can attest to the truth of that.


Most of the beef served at the Strip Club comes from 1000 Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls, MN. President and Co-owner, Todd Churchill, grew up on a conventional farm before going into accounting for small businesses, many of them in the agriculture sector. But upon learning more about feedlot cattle raising, and realizing that he really didn’t enjoy eating beef much any more, he set out to create a way to raise cattle that would satisfy he ethical beliefs, and his desire for a truly tasty steak. In less than ten years, 1000 Hills has grown to supply more than 350 stores, restaurants and public school districts in Minnesota with 100% grass-fed cattle.

The Places

You could say that Strip Club Meat and Fish perfectly expresses St. Paul, its ethnic history, its working-city ethic and the surrounding forests and fields. Chef J.D. Fratzke’s menu brings the traditional together with the contemporary, centered around meats and game of the upper Midwest. His co-owner, Tim Niver entertains the mouths and minds of their guests with amazing, custom-made, seasonal cocktails. Minnesota Magazine raves about the beef dishes: “phenomenal” and “spectacular.” “The restaurant provides a template for what a grass-fed, family farm supporting, land sustaining, Minnesota=enhancing steak house can be.” domeats.com


Down the road from the Twin cities, 1000 Hills Cattle Company provides 100% grass fed beef to hundreds of restaurants and retail outlets, and 30 school districts. Yet the operation feels intimate, with care given to each animal browsing in the fields of specially grown grasses. 1000 Hills draws from dozens of sustainable agriculture, family farms in the area, where it assures that the cattle are raised with care for environment, the animals and the people who enjoy the meet. Co-owner Todd Churchill’s belief that calm, well-tended cattle don’t need chemical intervention has been borne out by the results: there’s been no need for antibiotics at 100 Hills. thousandhillscattleco.com

The Food

In this episode, chef J.D. Fratzke of Strip Club Meat and Fish cooks up a flavorful, juicy steak for us, from grass-fed beef grown down the road in Cannon Falls, MN.


We also watch him conjure up his take on the Greek dish Taramasalata. While in St. Paul, our host Amelia accompanied J.D. and his daughter as they perused the farmers market there for ingredients. They returned with nearly everything he needed to make this unbelievably tasty side dish: fairytale eggplants, petit pan squash, cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic and parsley.


J.D. grills the eggplants until the skin is crisp and blackened, the better to peel it off. The squash is slowly roasted with garlic cloves, olive oil and rosemary.


Once the eggplant, squash and garlic are blended, with a spritz of fresh lemon, J.D. finishes off the presentation with the tomatoes and some trout roe, a perfect touch of his native Minnesota. This dish tastes utterly amazing. And it uses up almost half the “a” tiles on the Scrabble board.

For Kids, Families and Teachers

We have three projects that we think are essential for today’s conscious meat-eater. We do them ourselves, and all of them are free.


1.) Field trip!

Find a couple of local and small livestock farms near you that raise their animals sustainably, with their food, water, soil and life free of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Try to find a farm that processes their livestock from field to plate and ask them if you can participate in some part of that process or at the very least, take a tour of their farm. Local Harvest is a resource for finding such farms near you: http://www.localharvest.org

2.) Homework!

With knowledge comes the power to change your world. Go to the library and check out 2 books, read them and share them with your friends and family.

“The River Cottage Meat Book” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

If you love eating good meat, this text is considered the ultimate “ode to meat” cookbook. Check it out, read it and tell us what your favorite recipe is!

“CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories” by Daniel Imhoff

For children ages 10 and under, CAFO should be viewed by a parent or teacher first. Yes, it’s hard to believe a book about food production could be rated PG13 but hey, we’re only the messenger and this messenger is looking out for you!

” CAFO provides an unprecedented view of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations where an increasing percentage of the world’s meat, milk, eggs, and fish are produced. As the photos and essays in this powerful book demonstrate, the rise of the CAFO industry has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. Industrial livestock production is now a leading source of climate changing emissions, a source of water pollution, and a significant contributor to diet-related diseases, and the spread of food-borne illnesses. The intensive concentrations of animals in such crammed and filthy conditions dependent on antibiotic medicines and steady streams of subsidized industrial feeds poses serious moral and ethical considerations for all of us. CAFO takes readers on a behind-the-scenes journey into the alarming world of animal factory farming and offers a compelling vision for a food system that is humane, sound for farmers and communities, and safer for both consumers and the environment.”

3.) Movie night!

Watch the wonderful documentary “Food Inc.” with your family or school class. Drop us a line and let us know what you think!

Dig Deeper

Visit the Digging Deeper Blog


How could antibiotics make you and your family sick?


When we think about farming we often have a mental picture of the picturesque red barn and silo surrounded by green fields. We like to imagine cows and chickens, pigs and lambs growing up these fields and ending up neatly divided up and wrapped wrapped in plastic or behind the glass at the meat counter, don’t we?


That doesn’t happen very often. Most grocery stores sell meat that comes from huge animal raising facilities called feedlots, known in the food business as CAFOs – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Hundreds and even thousands of animals are tightly packed together in usually unhealthy conditions. They eat right where they poop, and then they lie in their own waste.


Why? Lowering costs and increasing profit. The idea is to make the animals grow as fast as possible in the cheapest way possible. The most common way to make animals grow fast and not die of illness in these terrible conditions is to mix antibiotics in with the feed. The same sorts of medicine we’ve relied on to heal ourselves.


Eighty percent of antibiotics manufactured are used in this way. Yes, you read that right. Eighty percent of all antibiotics go to our food animals, not just when they are sick but everyday in their feed. While these giant CAFOs make lots of money they are creating something very dangerous – antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Why should you care? Two million people became ill last year with bacteria that conventional treatment of antibiotics could not cure. Twenty-three thousand died. Doctors know that some antibiotics now longer work to treat illnesses that can kill us.


This way of making our meat has also caused outbreaks of food borne illnesses you hear about in the news. CAFOs often have lagoons filled with waste where antibiotic resistant bacteria multiply and create more superbugs. These lagoons pollute streams and rivers and leach into the ground water. The bacteria-filled waste is often spread on fields that are used to grow our food. How much are we talking about? Just one cow leaves behind more than 120 pounds of manure a day.


For more about this check out factoryfarmmap.org/problems . And if you want to take action, go to foodandwaterwatch.org .


But you can help make things better just by the way you spend your money on food, every day. It’s not hard to find grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork or poultry that’s free of antibiotics. Yes, it costs a bit more. But what’s the cost of millions of preventable illnesses, or twenty-three thousand deaths per year?