In recent years, the growing emphasis on eating locally-grown foods has led to the emergence of a number of organizations and cooperatives that facilitate local, sustainable eating. In 2010, the Summit County Food Coalition introduced an innovative program, facilitating the purchase of local, grass-fed beef by restaurants and individuals in the county. The Summit County Beef program has proven to be an innovative way to bring together ranchers and consumers, offering nutritional, economic, environmental, and cultural benefits to the entire community.
While the majority of beef available in supermarkets is grain-fed in industrial feedlots, Summit County Beef is grass-fed and raised without antibiotics and hormones. The benefits of consuming grass-fed beef are well-documented. In comparison to cattle raised on grain feedlots, grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fats and slightly higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin E.1
In addition to benefiting ranchers by providing a local market, cutting down on transportation costs, and promoting their product, Summit County Beef bought directly from local ranchers keeps money within the community. A high percentage of profits are likely to be reinvested in the local economy, benefiting the entire county. Also, the close proximity of beef producers to consumers significantly decreases the energy needed for transportation and reducing the environmental impact of beef consumption.
In a county known for its diversity, sometimes conflicting values and cultures, a program that brings together the agricultural community with the resort community has considerable value. This program provides an opportunity for these agricultural and resort communities to work together and mutually benefit from a focus on local, sustainable food.
Summit County Beef’s distribution is currently limited, but the Summit County Food Coalition is working to expand availability to a number of restaurants and stores in the area. More information on the Summit County Beef is available online at www.wix.com/summitcounty/beef.
For an in-depth look at agricultural issues in Utah, including regulation, land use, and the balance between maintaining agricultural lands and accommodating growing urban areas, join us for the 2011 Utah Intergovernmental Roundtable Summit, Food for Thought, on Thursday, October 27th at the Hilton Hotel. To register for the summit, visit: www.cppa.utah.edu/uir
Roosevelt, M. (2006). The grass-fed revolution. Beef raised wholly on pasture, rather than grain-fed in feedlots, may be better for your health--and for the planet. Time
, 167(24), 76-78.