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PAGE 2 OF INTERVIEW WITH BILL KURTIS OF TALLGRASS BEEF
CHEF JAMES: Is there any certification process involved with Tallgrass Beef? How can you be sure that the cattle are open pasture cattle that have been fed no "unnatural supplements, growth hormones, or antibiotics."?
BILL KURTIS: All certification programs start with a contract in which the producers promise to raise the cattle according to Tallgrass protocols. Cattle people are the most honest people I know. I place a great deal of faith in that first step. But second, we periodically test our product so we'll be able to detect trace amounts of antibiotics or growth hormones.
CHEF JAMES: Is Tallgrass Beef 'Certified Organic'?
BILL KURTIS: Tallgrass Beef is not certified organic. We qualify in every way except one: herbicides on our pastures. There's an invasive species in our pastures which the State of Kansas has required ranchers to remove. It's cerecea lespidica. We must have the option of spot spraying occasionally. We also burn our pastures which takes care of it as well. In the future, we might try for organic qualification but right now, we're settling for natural beef.
CHEF JAMES: How do you feel about the USDA Organic certification program?
BILL KURTIS: USDA Organic certification is necessary. Organic sections of supermarkets are growing at 20% a year. The last I looked it was a 15 billion dollar industry. The organic movement is like a tsunami ready to sweep through American eating habits so it's important that the label accurately describe what's in the meat. Currently, there's an issue with what is really grass-fed. Some meat in the case is grass-fed but not grass-finished. That should be corrected so the consumer receives truly grass-fed and finished meat--not one that is finished on grain for six weeks to give it that fatty taste. Any grain in the animal's diet reduces its nutritive value.
CHEF JAMES: And since FoodReference.com is also about cooking, I must ask this question: When your at home, what do you like to eat?
BILL KURTIS: I'm a beef person and I've come to love the grass-fed products, from hamburger to filets. Sorry about the plug. Since I've been on grass-fed beef, I've put aside the enormous amounts of desserts I used to eat in favor of the healthier meal. I love it, have lost weight and feel better.
CHEF JAMES: Finally, what are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
BILL KURTIS: I'd love to see the grass-fed beef revolution sweep the country until it's available in every supermarket. I've spent my life "observing" and reporting on others. Now, I've found a product that I really believe in--one that can change the health of the nation, especially when it comes to obesity. I would be happy to know that my efforts in introducing Tallgrass Beef contribute to reversing the problem of obesity in this country.
CHEF JAMES: Thank you Bill for taking the time from you very busy schedule to answer my questions.
BILL KURTIS: Your welcome James, and Good luck with your excellent foodreference.com site.
Additional Information: Visit TallGrassBeef.com for a list of retail stores that sell TallGrass Beef, Restaurants that currently serve Tallgrass Beef or to order online.