They finally figured out what to do with old dairy cows


dairy cows

Eloy Alonso/Reuters


The next time you eat at a fancy restaurant, consider where that high-quality organic cut of beef came from. It might actually be an old dairy cow.

It's rough being a dairy cow at a factory farm. You have a nearly 50/50 chance of getting an udder infection because conditions are so unsanitary, your horns are removed, and you have almost no personal space.

To make matters worse, your diet is made up mostly of corn, soy, and animal byproducts.

Life is considerably better for cows raised by pasture-based, organic dairy producers. They live their whole lives roaming and grazing pasture, and as a result, the majority of their diet comes from grass.


But here's the weird thing: at the end of their lives, both factory farm and organic farm cows are sold for cheap and mixed up with commodity meat, which is produced on an industrial scale.

There's no differentiation between the two, even though the cows raised by organic producers are considerably healthier and better fed.

Beef company Mindful Meats is trying to change that. The company sources organic dairy cows from farmers, processes the beef, and then offers the meat to sustainably-minded buyers.

It's the only company in the U.S. that's trying to separate out quality dairy cow beef from the mediocre stuff.

"Along the way, meat people told us, 'Good luck trying to get a good product out of a dairy cow,'" says Claire Herminjard, the CEO of Mindful Meats.


But the taste, says Herminjard, has been better than expected. "It has a robust, mature meat flavor. All our animals are female, and that yields a different flavor as well. We've been told there's a sweet, clean finish, and natural marbling."

Farmers get a good deal out of partnering with Mindful Meats; they're paid 40% more for their meat than what they would fetch on the conventional market.

The meat goes to all sorts of places.

In the Stanford Health Care system, patients eat Mindful Meats burgers. Celebrity chef Jose Andres has an exclusive on the company's dry aged dairy cow exports. San Francisco's Bar Tartine gets all of its meat from Mindful Meats organic dairy cows.

The beef is also available in grocery stores, and earlier this year, Mindful Meats started selling direct to consumer via Amazon Fresh and Foody Direct.


"Our ultimate goal is to have enough presence in the country to have real influence," says Herminjard.

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