Paul and Julie Larson, like most dairy farmers, fill their family freezer with beef from one of their own animals, giving them the advantage of knowing the health of the animal, what it was fed, and how it was raised. In 2010, having compared the excellent taste and quality of their meat with what is otherwise available to the general consumer, they decided to market their farmstead beef locally. Their label is SunRay Farmstead Meats, and they grow animals for both beef and chevon (goat meat).
A discerning customer might wonder what makes SunRay meats so special. The answer is found in the consistent quality and flavor, as well as the lack of antibiotics and hormones often used to enhance the growth rate of the animals. And, since it’s produced locally, sales income cycles back into the local economy in the form of jobs, daily farm purchases, and local processing and packaging of the meat.
“I tell my customers there is one ingredient in the package, and that one is meat. We sell a ‘clean label’ product … no artificial ingredients in or on the meat at packaging, no fillers. The meat is from healthy animals raised according to standards we share with you,” says Paul.
The Larsons take a sincere interest in sharing their story with visitors to their farm in rural Mindoro. They answer questions about animal husbandry and farming practices, and often invite visitors along to check out the animals, feed a calf, or hold a goat kid. The net gain is trust and a better understanding of what’s involved in producing the food we choose to eat.
Paul and Julie also participate in programs aimed at introducing farm animals and explaining meat and milk production to students at area schools that serve SunRay beef at lunch.
Their beef is from Jersey cattle, lean but tender. “We harvest our hay and other forages at high nutrient level and digestibility. Our animals grow very well on this forage and are finished on it instead of on corn,” says Paul. “This diet is healthier than full corn for the animals, and yields a consistent high quality of meat year-round.”
SunRay beef burger runs 87-88 percent lean, so it can be formed into patties or browned for casseroles or soup without excessive fat left in the pan. Roasts and steaks speak for themselves with no need for salt or steak sauce, just your favorite herbs.
And, while shelf life of refrigerated meat at the grocery store is rather short, SunRay meat is sold double-wrapped and frozen, allowing you to purchase your meat months in advance, store it in your freezer, use it at your convenience, and depend on its high quality.
With the opportunity to get to know your farmer and learn more about the quality of food you eat, SunRay Farmstead Meats offers a warm, flavorful experience you’re sure to love.
For more information, go to www.sunraydairy.com.
Quick and Hearty Beef Soup
- 1 lb. SunRay burger, thawed
- 3-4 tsp. beef bouillon
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 1 cup butternut squash, diced
- ½ cup barley
- ½ can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 6-8 cups water
Crumble thawed burger into a 6-quart stockpot and brown it on medium heat.
Add 6-8 cups water along with 1 tsp. bouillon for every 2 cups of water.
Add onions, squash, barley, tomatoes and oregano; simmer.
Once the squash and barley are cooked, add the corn and bring the soup to a simmer once again until the corn is heated through. Enjoy!