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100% ORGANIC Grass-fed Beef at Sal y Pimienta

With all the health issues associated with the consumption of meat, “organic” has become one of the most valuable words of the 21st century.

A single dinner at Sal y Pimienta, a fabulous South American Steak House in City Centre was all it took for me to learn and understand the extraordinary concept and benefits of what is known as “organic grass-feed beef”, something I had never even heard of before.

It so happens that the cow meats we eat, are of course the result of what they eat. Following that chain, unless we are vegan or vegetarian, we are also the result of the quality of the meats we eat. Case in point, what a cow eats will finally end up in your body.

What I didn’t know though, is that cows can be fed in a variety of different ways, resulting in the quality of the beef we end up consuming.

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We are all quite familiar with the word “organic”, but what we may not know is that “organic” has a wide range of different meanings. This is also true in the world of cattle raising. I won’t ellaborate on all the different ways to receive the title of “organic”, but I’d rather focus on the excellence of organic beef.

It all starts in Uruguay, a small country in South America, right between Brazil and Argentina, the two largest producers of cattle in Central and South America. Yet, it so happens that Uruguay is the only country in the southern hemisphere allowed to export meats to the US.

Modeling New Zeland’s standards, Uruguay uses a unique double system to track every single one of the 12.5 million cows born in the country every year. Every one of them has an identifier, a unique number known as “caravana”, which allows the government to know when, were and how the animal was born. Additionally, each new calf is inserted a chip through the skin and into the body the moment it’s born, which allows to digitally read and track its place of birth, growth, transfers from one facility to another, and a wide range of valuable additional information to guarantee its development, quality and even time and cause of death. The information provided by this chip is updated electronically into a database through the life of the animal. This advanced quality control is not new to Uruguay, which for 300 years has had the reputation as having one of the finest livestock in the world. This ultra-high standard and quality control process granted Uruguay the status that today holds as one of the preferred countries in the world for meat exportation, including by the high standards of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

INAC (National Meat Institute) is Uruguay’s authority in control of production and export of livestock. Additionally, ICAN promotes their meats throughout the world. This effort is placing Uruguay at the level of the best organic meat producers in the world, such as New Zeland and Australia. However, Uruguayan model is New Zeland, as the country producing the best milk, the best butter, the best lamb and the best cows. Both Uruguay and New Zeland are very similar in size, population, landscape and exports base. But the most important similariry is their focus into “natural” products.

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Let’s clarify the use of the term “natural”, since this is a word that has been abused and misused throughout the world. In our case, by “natural”, we mean that 90% of Uruguayan cows are grass-fed. Furthermore, they feed their cattle in what is known as “open range”. This means their livestock is not fed with grass in dry bundles in stables or enclosures, but rather in an open field, where each cow has over one ‘hectarea’ (2 1/2 acres) of space under open skies, 365 days a year. This can only happen under certain climate conditions, not found but in a few countries. Uruguay offers those conditions; even in winter you don’t need to cover the cattle. The apparent disadvantage for ranchers feeding cattle under these natural conditions is that during the three months of winter, given the fact that pasture growth slows down, cows gain less weight, and sometimews even lose a little. This is part of a natural cycle. During times with less rain and pasture growth, the animal eats less, slowing down the growth process. As spring comes along, with the Southern hemisphere’s heavier rains and grass growth, cattles eat more, with the resulting fast growth. In other words, ranchers completely depend on the natural conditions of the weather. Business wise, this could be a challenge under bad climate conditions, but the consumers gain by receiving some of the best beef on earth.

Another great advantage of growing livestock in open ranges, is its humanitarian aspect. Animals are treated in a very humane manner, exposing them to a natural, stress-free environment, having a direct impact in the health of the animal and the quality of the meat.

Another great component of Uruguayan beef is that since 1968 it is prohibited by law the use of growth promoters (hormones and other nutritional supplements, used to force the growth) in cattle. It is interesting to note that in the United States the use of those growth promoters is allowed by the USDA.

In addition to this, in ranches subject to the “organic” classification, it is also prohibited to use antibiotics in animals, and pesticides and fertilizers on the pastures. These two elements guarantee that cows are not only fed with fresh, green natural grass, but also free of chemicals of any kind. Again, the impact on the quality of their meat is direct and meaningful. This is what you would call true Kosher.

Another interesting component to highlight is the fact that most meats you buy at the store in our country, come from grain-fed cows. This doesn’t necessarily mean that at some point in their lives, those animals were fed with grass, but for the most part, they have been raised eating grain, which in turn has been grown with fertilizers and pesticides.

The problem with this type of commercial beef is that traces of hormones, nutritional supplements, antibiotics, pesticides and fertilizers are being absored by consumers. Antibiotics thus transmitted into humans, make them more resistent to the efects of those types of antibiotics. Similar effects occur with the ingestion of hormones and supplements, which result in children’s premature growth.

Nature’s Cut is the country’s exclusive representative to comercialize Uruguyan meats, and is certified by USDA Organic.

Sal y Pimienta Kitchen, Houston’s premier Uruguayan cuisine, in beautiful City Centre, offers this top-of-the-line beef. There you can definitely experience the difference between the pale red standard meats served in most restaurants, and the deep red organic beef from Uruguay. The difference in texture and flavor is remarkable, the way nature intended beef to be.

And while you are at it, you might as well treat yourself to one of Texas’ finest selections of appetizers (try my favorite “beef empanadas”), dishes and desserts from South America. Too many to list here, so we’ll save this for a future review on Sal y Pimienta Kitchen.


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818 Town and Country Blvd #105, Houston, TX 77024

Category: COMIDA