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Here we try to answer several frequently-asked-questions about grass-fed beef in general, and Sumas Mountain Farms in particular...

What's the difference between "grass-fed beef" and "grass-fed & finished" beef?

All beef cows eat grass at some time in their lives, and therefore some beef producers will claim their beef is "grass-fed" when in reality it was only grass-fed for a few months and then finished on grain in a feed-lot. Therefore it's important for you to always ask "Is this beef lifetime grass-only?" Here at Sumas Mountain Farms, our beef cows only eat grass their entire lives. They are 100% lifetime grass-only, grass-fed & finished beef cows.

I notice that when I order "grass-fed & finished beef" it sometimes varies in flavor and tenderness. How come?

Since our cattle are never confined, and are free to roam around, the beef will have more tendency to vary from cow to cow --- meaning some will be more tender, some more flavorful, and so on. This is normal. Unlike industrial-scale feedlots, where cattle are confined to relatively small areas and fed grain in order to produce a standardized uniform "product" with no variation, our farm allows the cattle to live as they were designed to, freely grazing on pasture and living naturally. As a result, the cows are all different, all distinct, all unique, and lack the standardization and uniformity of a confinement operation. Therefore, some of our beef cows are more tender than others, some more flavorful, some leaner, some bigger, some smaller... and that's ok. Variability is normal in nature --- uniformity is not. For us, the point isn't to produce beef that is always exactly the same from cow to cow. Rather, it's to produce beef that is exceptionally healthy for humans and the planet, and kind and respectful to the cows. Therefore we adapt our expectations to the beef that each animal uniquely produces, rather than forcing the animals into an unhealthy farming model.

Once I bought some grass-fed beef from a farm in Alberta and it tasted weird. How come?

Some beef farmers will range their cows on arid and weed-ridden areas. This is especially true in dry regions, like the interior of BC and Alberta. If the beef cow has been eating aromatic plants, brush or certain weed species, their meat may take on an undesirable flavor. That's why it's always better to buy beef from a producer who ensures the cows are pastured exclusively on quality species like ryegrass and clover. Sumas Mountain Farms is in the lush Central Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, where plenty of rainfall ensures our ryegrass/clover pastures are ideal for cattle grazing. The result? Delicious beef that is truly healthy.

Do I have to order beef that's been frozen, or can I get it unfrozen?

We don't sell unfrozen beef. As soon as our butcher cuts the beef, it's wrapped and frozen. In this way, its freshness and safety are optimized. In general, it is better to purchase frozen meat than unfrozen meat, learn more about this here.

How long do you age the beef before it's cut-and-wrapped? Is it dry-aged?

Usually between about 7 to 10 days, typically closer to 7. The meat is leaner than feed-lot beef, and the leaner the beef the less time is required to age it. With grass-only beef, it is better to keep the time short. And yes, we only dry-age, which results in a more flavorful product than wet-aging.

Can I buy beef from you by the side, or the quarter, or do you only sell individual cuts.

We mostly sell individual cuts, and generally, do not sell sides or quarters.

Why do you charge more for your beef than Safeway does?

When beef cows are raised entirely on grass, they mature more slowly. In fact, they often take up to 2 years longer to mature than feed-lot beef. In the late fall and winter time, when the pasture grasses are dormant, we feed the cows hay. The hay is, of course, certified organic, which is costly. Therefore, the longer the beef cow takes to mature, the more it costs us. That's ok with us, because we know the end result is beef that is healthier for families, healthier for the earth, and healthier for the animals.

What are some other reasons why "grass-fed & finished" beef is healthier?

Aside from all the excellent health reasons to eat "grass-only" beef (such as higher omega-3 fatty acids, higher vitamin and mineral levels, lower unhealthy fats, and so on) there are some additional benefits to consider: Most beef cattle are fattened on grain in feedlots --- which can make the animals' gastro-intestinal tracts overridden with unhealthy bacteria. Conversely, "grass-only" beef cows that are raised exclusively on pasture are unlikely to develop this problem, because the PH level in their digestive systems is radically different than for feed-lot beef. Besides, common sense tells us that if an animal is raised in a healthy way, eating pasture grass like it's designed to eat, the meat it produces will be healthier too. Read more about the benefits here.

What are some other things that make Sumas Mountain Farms beef different?

For us, the entire process of raising livestock and having a farm is a statement about what is important in life. We do things differently than most farms. Learn more here.

Tell me more about your farm...

We are a 100%-owned family farm, so you can rest assured that everything that bears our name is produced on our farm with the greatest attention to every detail. You see, we truly care about the health of our family, and we care about yours too. Our mission is to provide families with truly healthy meat. Read more about our farm here.

Do you raise all your own beef cattle?

We breed and raise our beef cows here on our farm on Sumas Mountain, allowing the calves to stay with their moms and ensuring that the entire life of the cow conforms to both the organic and SPCA standards.

How do you slaughter your animals and is it humane?

This is one of the most important parts of farming to us. To us, it is of utmost importance that every animal we slaughter is given an enjoyable life, right up to and including the moment of slaughter. All of our animals are slaughtered in adherence to both organic and SPCA standards, at our provincially-inspected and regulated facility here in the Fraser Valley. Our slaughter facility is third-party inspected by a verification officer to ensure compliance to both organic and SPCA standards, and a government inspector is always present during the slaughter process. We place the highest priority on this last portion of the farm animals' lives.

Why can't I buy your products at the store?

We sell our products directly to our customers, and for us this is a very important point. We feel it is necessary for people to "know their farmer" and establish a direct relationship with the people who are producing their food. Not only do we enjoy getting to know our customers and answering their questions and helping them fill their needs, but we also are able to pass along more savings to our customers by selling directly to them rather than through a retailer.

What makes your chicken better than the chicken I can buy in the store?

Even though you can purchase organic chicken in your local store, it is vastly different than the chicken we produce here on our farm. Here's why: First, our chicken is not only certified organic but it is also SPCA-certified for animal welfare, meaning a higher quality-of-life has been ensured. Second, we eliminate all soy from the diet of our chickens, which is not only essential for people who are soy-sensitive but also results in slower-growing, more flavorful chicken. Third, because our chickens are soy-free they grow more slowly and the result is a chicken which is more nutrient-dense and tastier. Fourth, our chickens eat grass and bugs and have the pleasure of feeling the sun, wind and rain in their feathers, resulting in a happier chicken and a healthier product. Fifth, we raise our chickens in small numbers rather than massive flocks, and this allows us to pay more attention to the birds on an individual basis resulting in healthier, happier chickens. Sixth, at slaughter time we air-chill our chickens resulting in a product which is more flavorful and healthy. You can learn more about our chickens here.

What makes your pork so flavorful and healthy?

Our pigs are raised exclusively on pastures where they run, dig at roots, eat grass, sunbathe and play. Our pigs are also heritage breeds, typically brown or black, which are meant to live outside and forage unlike today's modern barn-pigs which are pink and bred for indoor confinement production. We also raise our pigs soy-free, which we believe is essential for our customers who are soy-sensitive and also healthier for the pig. We also believe soy-free pigs result in healthier and more flavorful meat. The fat from our pigs is also much healthier because they soak in the sunshine resulting in lard which is loaded in Vitamins A and D and healthy monounsaturated fats. Try our pork and see for yourself, we believe you will love it. You can learn more about our pigs here.

What do you mean when you say your farm is 100% "organic"?

100% organic means no drugs, no antibiotics, no hormones, no pesticides, no chemicals, no toxins, and no contaminants... and animals that are treated humanely and allowed to live as they were designed to. We're certified organic through an independent third party certification authority, and must comply with strict regulations in order to meet the organic criteria. Learn more here.

Why is it better to buy my food from local sources?

This is so important. Please read more about why people are choosing to buy their food from local, family-farms...