Whole Foods Hillcrest arranged a bus tour to Mendenhall Ranch on Saturday June 2nd. A few Slow Food Urban San Diego board members tagged along to see where some of our locally raised, grass-fed and finished, certified-humane beef came from and to meet the dedicated people who are responsible for it.
With the urbanity of Rancho Bernardo twenty minutes behind us and oak-dotted golden hills in front of us, our bus arrived at Lake Henshaw. Joel Mendenhall, a sixth generation San Diego County Rancher, Thad Benshoof and Peter Morris (of Homegrown meats) met our group at the 17-cabin resort on the lake owned by Mendenhall's parents, Frank and Janice.
Our next destination was the weaning corral, where eight-month-old calves were being gradually weaned from their mothers' milk so they could develop a taste for grass. Here, Joel, Thad and Peter explained how Mendenhall Ranches and Homegrown Meats produce their Black Angus, grass-fed and finished beef: Nothing but mother's milk and grass for about two years until the animals reach a weight of 1,100 pounds. When the cows are heavy enough, they are processed in a certified-humane facility and nary a bit of them is wasted.
Next, we set out on a brief hike for a view of Lake Henshaw and an explanation of the "American Grassfed" and "Animal Welfare Approved" Certifications: both certifications HomeGrown Meats proudly displays on its products. Dan explained to us that both of these certifications are carried out by third party organizations and that there is no cost to the producer (which means the certification can not be bought.)
We finished our day with a lake-side BBQ featuring HomeGrown Meats' hot dogs and hamburgers.
All in all, it was a great day!
Many thanks to our wonderful tour guides, Carolyn and Ray at Whole Foods Hillcrest; our gracious hosts, Joel, Frank and Janice Mendenhall and Thad and Peter of HomeGrown Meats!