May is National Beef month! We talked with Minnesota Grown member Jason from Helstrom Farms in Hibbing, MN and asked about his beef operation and environmental sustainability practices. The land has been in the family name since 1904. After attending a Sustainable Farming Association grazing conference, Helstrom Farms adopted the mob-grazing management, which prevents cattle from overgrazing. The combination of healthy soil, plants, and animals have allowed them to offer nutritious, premium, grass-fed beef to consumers.
Minnesota Grown: Tell us about your farming operation.
Helstrom Farms: At our farm, we focus on the health of the soil through grazing. Our improved Angus cross genetics have thrived in Minnesota environments. We believe in the practice of true animal husbandry. The cattle are certified True North Woods Organic. Because of our management style of mob-grazing and no added input, we have actually increased grass production by 2-3 times.
MG: What is mob-grazing?
HF: Livestock who eat the grass down to the soil weaken the root of the grass. With mob-grazing, cattle are only allowed to eat off tall stocks of grass. With the solid grass cover, the ground is cooler, protected from erosion, and drought resistant. We also help with the ecosystem within the organic matter layer of soil. Our rotational grazing management helps the ecosystem of bugs, worms, and microbes that are in the soil, which in turn, support a strong root system. Mob-grazing is proven by the EPA to restore damaged land and improve sustainability. For further information on mob-grazing practice and evidence of its effect, check out this USDA article.
MG: Environmental sustainability is important to farmers. Please tell us about your efforts to preserve the soil and the environment.
HF: Through proper management, we can reverse our carbon footprint and improve the environment. To start, we do not overgraze, we thrive with mob-grazing. We let the grass grow tall and allow the cattle to eat in each section for only twelve hours. We also preserve our waterway through solar or RAM water pumps. We do not let the cattle go into the pond near the farm.
MG: Why should consumers consider beef in their diet?
HF: Eating beef is an excellent source of protein. It provides the amino acids and Omega-3 fatty acids needed for a healthy diet. Beef is also low in carbohydrates. Check out our website for more health benefits of grass-fed beef.
MG: What is your favorite cooking method or recipe for beef?
HF: I love a juicy burger off the grill. I tend to quickly sear the outside then finish cooking on med-low until the juices run clear. Never flame up the meat, preserve that juiciness!
MG: Do you have any tips for cooking grass-fed beef?
HF: I would suggest to cook the meat low and slow, avoiding over cooking and increasing tenderness.
MG: Why should people buy local beef?
HF: There are numerous benefits to knowing where your food comes from and how it is raised. It is so important to have transparency to the farming operation, after all, these animals are the nutrients which sustain our health. The best thing is for consumers to have full disclosure to how their food is produced and have the confidence to purchase for themselves.
Thank you Helstrom Farms for sharing their story.
The Minnesota Beef Council and the American Grass-fed Association have more information about the beef industry and recipes to try. Be sure to thank a Minnesota Grown beef farmer and help them celebrate National Beef Month through purchasing locally raised beef!