EAT.BETTER.BEEF – Direct beef retailer provides better option to ND consumers
EAT.BETTER.BEEF – Direct beef retailer provides better option to ND consumers
When the grocery store shelves were more or less desolate in April, Emily Richard was invited to a Facebook group of local producers that was selling beef cuts directly to consumers. It was so successful, she decided to start something of her own.
The name, EAT.BETTER.BEEF was a contribution from Emily’s husband, Brandon. It’s simple, and it’s what they want people to do.
Emily of Richard Angus, an purebed operation south of Belfield, ND, began EAT.BETTER.BEEF to provide her community with — well, better beef. Every cut, quarter, half, and whole beef she sells is from her homegrown and range-finished cattle. Emily keeps tabs on every factor, from AI to harvest.
She retained a retail meat license and was fortunate enough to find coveted space at local butcher shops – she uses Williston for USDA cuts, and has monthly appointments for whole beef with 701 Meats north of South Heart.
The social media-savvy rancher said she mostly uses Facebook to market her product, and her consumer base is folks who don’t necessarily have a personal connection to ranching or have access to buying bulk beef otherwise. She explained that the consumers in North Dakota can take advantage of living in an agriculture-rich state, and have the ability to buy directly from the producer.
Along with offering various cuts, bundles, quarters, halves or a whole beef, Emily takes the opportunity to also educate about buying bulk beef and has cut cards she’ll help each customer fill out. Even though the stores are stocked again, her business hasn’t slowed down.
She says that once a consumer tries a locally-raised, homegrown, “true, beautiful beef,” that there is usually no going back. “I monitor my animals, and they never leave my ranch. I grow all the food they eat. They live in a pasture right in front of my house until the day I take them to the butcher shop. So there are so many things about my beef that I can offer the customer that they can’t get at a grocery store and that has really changed a lot of consumers’ mindsets.”
Emily strives to make ordering convenient. She delivers to Dickinson once a week. The consumers fill out an order form and email it to her.
“I’m trying to educate people that a quarter or half a beef will last six months to a year, depending on the consumer. If you prorate it out over 12 months, the cost is less than people buying beef every month in the grocery store.” Emily says that, when her customers buy her beef, they can get every cut of beef for about the same dollars per pound that they pay for ground beef in the grocery store. “That’s the best thing about bulk beef,” she said.
“And with each bulk beef order, I call the customer, and we walk through their cut card and we design their cut card together. So many people have never had the opportunity to buy bulk beef- so they have no idea how to have an animal processed.” She is happy to help with any questions the customer has. “I really love the opportunity to call each customer and go through that,” Emily said. She goes into detail with each consumer, helping them decide if they want 1-pound or 2-pound hamburger packages, and the thickness of the steaks and size of the roasts.
Many of her customers have promised to never go back to store-bought beef again, saying the beef there will never be as fantastic as buying it directly from the producer. “I can tell you exactly what that steak ate to get that marbling. It’s really a unique and different experience buying from me versus the grocery store,” Emily said.
Kristy Dvorak is a repeat customer of Emily’s cuts. Her and her husband used to raised their own cattle for 25 years, and missed the homegrown beef when they stopped ranching. The Dvoraks began buying from Emily when their son, who sells equipment and knows the Richards, introduced them.
“When we got out of ranching I wasn’t able to know which cow was going to be on my plate. I had to go to the grocery store and I found that the beef didn’t taste the same, and it comes from different parts of the country with different kinds of feed. Not knowing any of that was bothersome to me,” Kristy said. She appreciates that she can know where her food is coming from, and how the cattle are cared for. She prefers not to have antibiotics or growth hormones added, so finding someone like Emily worked out perfectly.
“When we found Emily and tried her beef, we were back very soon after because it had the flavor we were looking for. We knew that they were well-cared for, and speaking to Emily and Brandon reassured us. She’s producing a superior product if you ask me. She shares her knowledge and that’s really nice. We were able to go out to the ranch and see the animals, and they’re very open with their operation and that’s comforting.” Kristy buys the hamburger and steaks, and has recently started purchasing the stew meat and roasts.
“We’re trying all of it because we have not been disappointed with any of it.” Kristy said they will continue being customers, and if she posts a picture of food it most likely contains a cut from EAT.BETTER.BEEF.
Emily ensures that her beef is better by knowing exactly the way they’re bred and what they’re fed. They grow all the feed themselves that the cattle consume. “They’re out on pasture, but they do have access to a hay bale and grain. They eat what they want to and they’re out there until finished. I don’t force-feed them grain, they’re not locked in a feedlot.” She aims for a 1,500 to 1,550 pound critter which means usually around 100 to 120 days on feed, which is a mixture of corn and oats in a grain feeder.
“They can meander up and eat the grain or go out and eat in the pasture. It’s a pretty natural environment for them, and they’re in it until they’re fat enough to be butchered.”
She sells only the heart of their crop, the ‘big, fat, heavy steers’ and open heifers. She doesn’t process anything over 18 months.
The venture may be a great additional revenue, but selling beef directly to consumers is part of Emily’s passion for educating about agriculture. If consumers want to tour the ranch she’s more than welcoming for customers to visit and see the environment that their animal in living in when they purchase it.
“I love to have this platform to educate people on real agriculture and ranching and the actual process. For whatever reason agriculture has gotten this rap that that we pump every animal full of hormones and antibiotics daily, and that the food we provide the world is not good and wholesome. I really thrive on the opportunity to educate people that it’s not like that. Our beef is antibiotic and hormone free. We do sustainable agriculture, but we do it efficiently so if there is a sick animal, that animal is going to get cared for with antibiotics to make it feel better. But our animals are not mass-treated, and they don’t have hormones. So if I do treat an animal, they go into a different pen.”
From head to toe, and conception to harvest, Emily can talk about her cattle with confidence and the utmost knowledge. Emily’s passion for agriculture has always been present in her life. She grew up on a ranch between Sentinel Butte and Medora, graduating from Beach High School. She met her husband at Dickinson State University where she earned her nursing degree. She worked as a registered nurse for a few years. After she and Brandon married in 2012, she was finally able to get back into ranching. She said she still uses her nursing education every day, being the mother of 3 kids. She recently went back to school for a business degree, graduating just this December. Her finals week was the same week as the Richard Angus bull sale (where she also featured her own beef for the luncheon).
Along with two degrees, Emily educates herself, her family, and her neighbors by attending conventions and tradeshows. She said her father-in-law, Byron, is great about finding classes and courses for them to take. The ranching community south of Belfield is closely knit, and they share new information with each other as much as they can.
The future of EAT.BETTER.BEEF looks bright with new and repeat customers. Emily’s goal is to sometime in the near future sell her beef in restaurants, and possibly a grocery store or two.
“I want to get my beef to as many people as I possibly can.”
To read more, visit https://www.richardangusranch.com/news/featured-news/detail/id/27
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