Frequently asked Questions
Yep - our beef is 100% grassfed. In addition to complying with Audubon Conservation Ranching protocols (which already require no hormones and no antibiotics), all of our beef comes from animals whose diet is derived solely from forage and a limited list of approved supplements. Our cattle MAY NOT EVER be fed any grain, and MUST ALWAYS have continuous access to pasture. Although it’s pretty much that simple, you can find more information here.
Just like you and I would not be healthy on a diet of soda and cupcakes, cattle aren’t healthy eating a diet they aren’t designed to consume. Whereas we humans are omnivores, cattle are a type of herbivores called ruminants. A ruminant is basically a walking fermentation tank full of microbes that slowly convert whole plant leaves and stalks (called “forage”) into compounds that the animal’s own metabolism then converts into muscle and fat. When the cow’s rumen and own metabolism, fueled by forage, are working well together, they produce healthy muscle made up of the naturally perfect balance of diverse proteins, fats and micronutrients that your body recognizes and knows what to do with to make you healthy.
Many grassfed fans like to point out that the fat content in grassfed beef is different (e.g. more “omega 3’s” and conjugated linoleic acid “CLA”), or that the meats are also more abundant in vitamins like A, D, E and K. Both are generally true. But we like to emphasize that it’s actually the wholeness of all of those good things together, and many of the other things we don’t even understand, in a real food like 100% grassfed beef that really makes it good for you.
If you want to geek out further on some of the details of the differences in grassfed and grainfed beef, check out this fabulous scientific review article by Dr Cynthia Daley and her colleagues. If you’re still hungry for more details on the beauties of real, whole meats, jump on over to this great paper by Fred Provenza and colleagues. If you’re still curious to learn more, you are welcome to explore the science more with help from Google Scholar and decide for yourself.
It can be, but not necessarily, and frankly, not if we can help it. Thankfully, we think the science is moving sharply away from our 50-year fear of fat. Natural fats, in the right balance, are where many of the micronutrients are held - especially the fat soluble vitamins. Unbeknownst to many grazers, an animal with the right genetics, when grazed on with richly nourishing grasses and forbs that grow in healthy soil, can yield a well-marbled product not unlike a grain-fed animal. And when it does, that’s where much of the goodness lies. It’s up to you, but we’ll tell you that when we’re eating a real grassfed steak, we eat all of the fat - every bite of it.
ALL of our beef comes from farms and ranches right here in the USA. You will NEVER find imported beef in our box. We’ve got absolutely nothing against farmers in South America or Australia - many are our friends. But buying beef from a farm overseas does nothing for fixing broken landscapes and farms here at home. Our current farm system is killing our birds (or causing them never to be born) and poisoning our waterways. But we can fix a lot of that by producing beef in a way that leaves the land in better shape than we found it. If all around the world people were to buy food that regenerated the health of their own home-lands, it would mean that we could fix lands and ecosystems everywhere. Right now, the Audubon program is primarily active in the “central flyway”, but we expect more states and regions to be added in time.
The National Audubon Society is a highly respected 100+ year old non-profit conservation organization that “protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation.” Audubon encompasses roughly 1.2 million members, 23 state chapters, 500 local chapters, and 41 nature centers nationwide. Audubon oversees the design and execution of the ACR certification program, but is not otherwise involved in the conduct of the Blue Nest Beef business. Legally speaking, Blue Nest Beef is a licensee of the National Audubon Society.
The Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) program is a 3rd Party Certification system that assures compliance in four key areas:
- Habitat Management - Every farm and ranch must be managed according to a set of bird-friendly protocols. Audubon also helps each ranch develop a habitat management plan that identifies and actions specific opportunities to help birds in its local setting.
- Forage & Feeding - All animals must have continuous access to pasture and receive no hormones and antibiotics. Although no feedlots are allowed, ACR protocols do allow modest supplemental feeding of grain in pastures - something not allowed under additional Blue Nest Beef protocols.
- Animal Health & Welfare - Ranchers must demonstrate a set of practices enabling of maximum animal health and welfare. Any animal mistreatment is not tolerated in the ACR program.
- Environmental Sustainability - Use of pesticides are restricted and a range of practices that might impair ecosystem health are further restricted.
You can find more information about ACR protocols here.
Our take on animal welfare is really simple. Feed the diet they are designed to eat- forage and no grain. Keep them on pasture and never confined in a feedlot. Make sure all interactions with people are low stress. Only use processors with a long history of low stress management and quick, careful and painless harvesting. Personally inspect every animal before purchase.
We feel these Blue Nest Beef requirements, in addition to the Audubon protocol, which already sets a high bar for animal treatment, results in animals that are happy, healthy, safe, and calm their entire life. We do this not just because it’s our responsibility to the animals in our care but its also the only way to deliver an incredible eating experience to you and our other customers. Cattle that are stressed, sick, anxious or mistreated will never create beef that is amazing.
Here is a link to the full ACR protocols to that you can see more specifics yourself.
Birds need both food and habitat. Kill the bugs and many birds have nothing to eat. Poison the plants or the bugs and the birds can also become sick. The full food pyramid actually begins underground where microorganisms eaten by slightly bigger organisms and so on - starting a cascade up the food chain that leads to edible food for birds. So practices that grow healthy soil also create more and healthier food for birds. Birds also seek different kinds of habitat - some even have a different needs or preferences at different times of year. Our kind of “regenerative” grazing creates a rich and diverse habitat with time-varying structures (i.e. some tall grass and some short grass) that create liveable spaces for all kinds of grassland birds year round.
“Regenerative” means our producers farm and ranch in a way that leaves the land better than they found it. Scientifically speaking, this happens because working with the complexity of the natural system, instead of fighting against it, shortens the cycles of nutrients in order to maximize the capture and flow of solar energy by and through biological life.
In the case of cattle grazing, this means ranchers do their best to mimic the herds of roaming bison that once grazed close together, ate a bit, and moved often. Instead of just standing behind a fence, animals in our program graze any particular spot for just a while, then move and don’t return to the same spot until plants have recovered. Growing grass ‘leaks’ 20% or more of the sugars it makes during photosynthesis to the soil microbes to feed an underground barter economy that returns nutrients to the plant roots. But grass eaten to the nub when an animal stays in one place causes root die-back, and thus no sugar coming out of the roots to feed microbes and the rest of life in the soil. Alternatively, the high frequency graze/rest cycle accumulates carbon-rich organic matter in soil that makes more nutrients and water available to the plant to capture more sunshine.
In the end, the same grazing practices that do good things for birds yield a pulsing cycle of growth where the growing grass grows healthier soil that further grows more and better grass. That’s how the land is left better than a rancher found it.
Why yes, we’re glad you asked :-). That stuff building healthier soil all falls under the umbrella term of “organic matter.” Organic matter is made up of slightly more than half carbon. That means some carbon ends up in the soil instead of the air. It turns out that worldwide, soils hold roughly 3 times more carbon than all the carbon in the air. So small changes in the volumes of carbon in soil can lead to bigger changes in the amount of carbon in the air. We have much to learn about this aspect, and are actively involved in various science projects ourselves, but hint: the potential is quite big. Two recent studies in Michigan and in Georgia are examples of the potential for this kind of grazing to create a net carbon sink. For a sense of just how big this effect might be on the Earth’s atmospheric carbon balance, we suggest you check out this paper or read this book.
But hey, healthy soil does more than just store carbon. Healthy soil is more porous and permeable, so it also holds more water when it rains. That means more water stays where it falls to grow more grass which can greatly mitigate the impact of drought. But it also means healthy soil slows downstream runoff that can lead to erosion or, worse, flooding. Healthy soil also grows more diverse kinds of grasses and forbs that not only attract birds, but other wildlife.
For a good overview of what this all looks like and how it works, check out this short film “Soil Carbon Cowboys” by our good friend Peter Byck. Oh, and keep your eyes open in that flick for our own Dr Allen Williams.
We are chartered as a “public benefit corporation” which means we’re legally a for-profit with a purpose that includes but goes beyond profit. We’ve done our best to design our business to work just like a regeneratively managed pasture. In other words, our business ‘roots’ leak to other members of our ecosystem that are involved in our nutrient and energy cycling. In addition to market premiums for finished animals, a full 5% of our gross revenues go to our business ecosystem partners. Just like regenerative grazing grows more and better grass, everyone comes out ahead at the same time as the birds and the land. When you buy our beef, you’re like a microbe participating in the supply of nutrients into this economic ecosystem.
To learn more about our business design, click here.
We have chosen to work with Crystal Creek Logistics to ship our packages to your door. By design and default, all Crystal Creek shipments are carbon neutral - the full footprint of shipping offset with credits from things like planting trees. We hope to one day work with them to provide credits for carbon our supplying ranches are capturing in soil - something that would literally close the carbon cycle while connecting our customers back to the lands of our farmers,
You can learn more about Crystal Creek here.
Subscriptions help us create a more sustainable food system. You save money, but subscriptions also help us plan our cattle needs with our ranchers. It takes almost three years from conception to your plate and subscriptions really help us manage that for the benefit of all involved.
We don't officially grade our beef as the cost to hire an official USDA grader for the relatively few cattle we kill is cost-prohibitive. We do informally grade them, and if they were graded, they would be High Select and Choice.
Weve been raising, processing, and selling 100% grassfed beef since 2003, and we've learned that the USDA grade is one of many, and not the most important, criteria to predict a high quality eating experience. Tenderness, juiciness, flavor, animal health, animal temperment, stress level in 12 hours prior to kill, are all essential to my goal of producing and selling the very best beef. Unfortunately, since what gets measured gets done, and the presence of visual marbling is easy to see in a chilled carcass, this one measurement is the only thing the commodity beef industry cares about and pays a premium for. We have taken a different path, and focused on all the more difficult to determine, but more important to overall quality attributes listed above, in addition to the diet of the animal.
We’ve done our best to keep it real simple. We have multiple box options. Choose the one that best fits your needs. Then choose to have it shipped to you once every month, once every other month, once a quarter, or every six months. Then the same order will be shipped to you on that schedule unless you change or cancel it. We will never ship your box without confirming you're ready for and will be there to receive it. You can change or cancel anytime up until it’s shipped (which will show on your My Account page).
Because ecosystems and cows both come in wholes. In order for us to maximize the chance we succeed in our objective of restoring grassland bird habitat, we have to sell all parts of animal in balance. The composition of our boxes and their balance in our offering are designed to utilize the whole animal as best we can.
Additionally, we've tried to optimize box sizes to both meet your household's needs while minimizes the negative impact of shipping, so it may be a bit larger than other offerings. But if one box is just a bit too big for your monthly needs, simply select the option to get your box every other month, quarterly, or every 6 months.
After decades of experience raising and producing grassfed beef, we have developed what to us is the very best way to package and age beef.
We start with very expensive, high-quality packaging machines to put each cut in a vacuum sealed package. Then we wet age all of our steaks and roasts for 30-40 days. Wet aging means that we hold each cut just above freezing for at least 30 days before we move it to the freezer.
This allows the naturally occurring enzymes to tenderize the meat, without drying out the meat, or creating mold on the surface which must be trimmed off, as happens with dry aging.
Everything is vacuum packed in individual item packages so you have flexibility and it will last longer in your freezer.
Nope - just meat. We don’t add colorings or ‘inflate’ our products. You don’t need to worry about anything else in our packages except 100% grassfed beef.
Yep. Everything has to be shipped, so that cost is already included in our one flat price.
Start on our Shop page. Choose your box there by clicking the "Selection Options" button. Choose your shipping interval on the next page and click "Reserve Your Box Now." This will take you to your cart where you can make any changes. If everything looks good, click "Proceed to Checkout." Complete the rest of the details and then finally "Reserve Your Box Now" one more time.
To check on the status of your order, you can thereafter go to the My Account page at any time. Click on the Orders link on the left hand side to see all of your orders. Click on the "View" button next to each to see details of each. Once your order has shipped, the view page will include a Tracking Number that you can either click directly or put into a shipping vendor system to find out where your box is and it should arrive.
Then just look for it on your front door step.
You may pay by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and Diner's Club) or Apple Pay. If you haven’t yet signed up for Apple Pay and would like to, you will find instructions here. We find that many customers like the simplicity once it’s all set up. We use Stripe for our online payments processing, so you can have high confidence in the security of your transaction.
To change your card, your address, or any other setting in your account, click here.
If there’s any dry ice left in your package on arrival, best to handle with oven mitts or towels. The stuff is real cold (about -110 ℉). Even if the ice is gone, the meat can still be very cold, so best to also handle with mitts or towels. The plastic dry ice bags can go in the recycle bin along with other packing materials. Even if there’s some ice left, don’t worry, it will harmlessly evaporate quickly.
We’ve done our best to choose packaging materials with an eye on sustainability.
Styrofoam is cheap, but is made of petrochemicals that last forever in a landfill. So we’ve completely eliminated it. Our internal insulation is made of 100% recycled cardboard and can be recycled again. Simply separate the plastic liner from the internal insulation and place both in the recycle bin.
No surprise here, simply place the cardboard in recycle bin as normal.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any better solutions for this limited volume of plastic, which must be thrown in the garbage (for now).
We really do want to know how we’re doing. You can leave a product review at anytime by going to the Shop page, clicking on the relevant item, and then clicking on the "Reviews" tab under the photo. Or if you just have general feedback, fill out the form or send us an email from the Contact Us page.
Of course we love to hear from fans, but don’t worry - we really want both good news and bad news. How are we going to get better if you don’t tell us how we messed up? Life requires learning and we’re not afraid of it.
Our initial supply is limited. If you're one of our initial subscribers, we will start shipping boxes Monday Nov 4. After that, your box will ship once per month. We’ll send you an email when your box actually ships. The email will include a tracking number that will allow you to follow the shipping progress. You can also check on the progress of your box at any time on the My Account | Orders page.
When you first subscribe, we will charge your card immediately to assure your spot in line. You can cancel at any time prior to shipping. For future orders, your card will be charged periodically according to your delivery interval thereafter. We'll give you a heads up before it's time for another charge so you can make changes if you wish.
A tracking number for each monthly shipment may be found in the shipping email you get when each and every shipment leaves our facility. Click on that link, and it will include an approximate estimate of when your box will arrive at your own nest. You can also track the progress of your box at any time on the My Account | Orders page.
Just click here to pop into your account and change your address.
Yep. If you’re going to be gone or need to hold off on the next delivery for any reason, you can go into My Account | Subscriptions then clicking "View" next to the one you want to pause. You will find a "Suspend" button under "Actions" - just click it. Note that this button will not appear if your order is currently on hold (as it will be during initial period). You can then restart whenever you want by going back to the same place and clicking "Reactivate."
Absolutely - at any time, no questions asked. Just go into My Account | Subscriptions, click "View" next to the order you want to cancel, then click the "Cancel" button under "Actions."
USDA states that all meat must be kept frozen or under 40 ℉ at all times. We use insulated shipping coolers with dry ice to make this happen, not weak and wasteful gel packs. Dry ice is very effective because it’s very cold. Because dry ice evaporates (actually ‘sublimes’) at a temperature of about -110 ℉, the ultracold dry ice will often be gone, but the meat will still be well below freezing. As long as your meat is still below 40 ℉ (firm and cold to the touch), you’re still good. If the meat is thawed AND not cold to the touch, please discard it and contact us right away by any method on the Contact Us page.
OK, we must have really blown it. We are truly sorry about that. Absolutely, we’ll give you a refund. Just contact us here to ask for a refund. And again, please leave any feedback if you are willing?