A dinner guest spurs a quest for local, grassfed, humanely-raised meat
My sister was coming to dinner. She’s primarily vegetarian because she doesn’t like how agribusiness often treats its animals. If you can show her the livestock was humanely raised, she’ll gladly eat it. I’m not sure what that makes her—a humane-itarian? Cruelty-freearian? Her visit led me to do what I should be doing anyway: seek out humanely raised, preferably local meat. I buy organic meat at the grocery store, but that doesn’t tell me much about the treatment they received while alive. And while Whole Foods has strict animal treatment standards, they don’t carry much, if any, Nevada-grown meat.
Before her visit, I was driving on my way to an unrelated story in Genoa. Just beyond the silos and the Carson River, I passed Ranch One and its cows. They munched lazily on grass in the open air, spread out across the field. The ranch has existed since 1851. Since 1909, it’s been owned by descendents of Robert Trimmer, who raise cattle much as they were raised back then—free-range, grassfed, grass-finished, no hormones, no antibiotics. Just down the road, in the quaint downtown of Nevada’s oldest territory, I walked up to the covered wooden porch of Trimmer Outpost, where I was told Ranch One beef could be found. I opened the door and headed for its freezer case. It was stocked with ground beef, roasts, and various cuts of steak.
Lisa Lekumberry, Trimmer’s great granddaughter, runs Ranch One with her husband, twin sisters and their husbands. She indulged my interrogations: “How are they raised? What do they eat? Where are they slaughtered?”
Unlike corn-fed cattle, who fatten up so quickly they can go to slaughter as young as 12 months, grassfed cattle take a little longer to reach processing size, which is partly why grassfed beef can be more expensive. Lekumberry says they raise their cattle—about 100 head of Angus and Hereford—for 18 to 24 months before taking them to Wolf Pack Meats in Reno for slaughter. They’re then packaged at Ponderosa Meat in Reno and sold at Trimmer Outpost, the building of which was formerly Lekumberry’s childhood home.
Lekumberry prefers not to comment on why people are seeking out local meat now; she doesn’t want to criticize the way other ranchers do things. “People do ask where the cows are, and I tell them they’re right down the street,” she says. “They like that we’re raising them here, I think.”
Nice day trip that it is, one needn’t travel to Genoa to find local meat. In Reno, Wolf Pack Meats is run by the University of Nevada, Reno. It keeps its freezer full of cuts of beef—I picked up some corned beef for St. Patty’s Day—though it’s best to call ahead if you want something specific or in large quantities. The majority of meat comes from cattle raised free-range on the premises. There’s also Great Basin Community Food Co-op, which recently offered beef from Fallon’s Albaugh Ranch, which also raises sheep. You can contact Albaugh and other local ranches directly, like Mills Ranch in Fallon, or Hole-In-One Ranch in Janesville, Calif., about an hour from Reno.
As for our dinner, a friend was kind enough to drop by with 18 eggs from her backyard chickens. I mixed one of them in with the ground beef, a bunch of Italian herbs and bread crumbs. Snow on Donner Pass kept my sister away that evening, leaving the rest of us to indulge in the meal without her. Having known exactly where the food came from—happy, local animals—it somehow tasted better. We ate hungrily, and guilt-free.