Strauss Direct is a company comprised of American farmers dedicated to bringing high quality meats to your doorstep! Strauss has recently partnered with CrossFit Inc. to create a box of meat cuts catered specifically towards those with an active lifestyle.
My dad lives in Nashville and works as an accountant for a food distribution company (they ship food to places like Red Lobster, Chili's, and others). He sent me an article of the partnership a few months ago - since he's always in the know in the industry - and the next day, I saw the announcement on all the CrossFit Inc. social media accounts. He sounded excited about it and so did CrossFit Inc. so I went and listened to Strauss Direct CEO Randy Strauss on the CrossFit Podcast. l learned so much about cattle ranching in general but also the importance of grass-fed AND grass-finished beef. I'll do my best to remember and summarize below.
Strauss Direct allows American farmers to apply to be a part of their system. From there, Strauss ships meat to local grocery stores like HEB, Central Market, Whole Foods, and others depending on where you live in the United States. To be a part of the Strauss label, farmers must meet very specific criteria on how the cattle are treated and raised. At their core, Strauss believes that:
"Exceptional meat comes from exceptionally well-raised animals. Better for the cattle. Better for the Earth. Better for you. American family farmers deserve our support. We proudly partner with farmers who are committed to managing their land sustainably and naturally, preserving and protecting the land for generations to come. Cattle should be raised as nature intended - free to roam on open pastures, enjoying a diverse grass diet and free of hormones and antibiotics. True grass-finishing is an art - we are proud to do our part to revive this almost-lost craft."
All their livestock are:
-Grass Fed and Grass Finished - Never Fed Grains
-Pasture Raised - Never Confined to Feedlots
-Never Administered Hormones
-Never Administered Antibiotics
-Raises Sustainably and Humanely
I want to briefly discuss each of those points and why this affects us. For a full information download, listen to the CrossFit podcast linked above and visit straussdirect.com to hear their full story!
Grass Fed and Grass Finished
This is the brief version so bare with me. Grass Fed refers to how the cattle are fed from birth and how they are raised. At Strauss, their farmers commit to specific grass blends free of antibiotics. In nature, think of grass as a vegetable (low glycemic carb) and corn as a starch/grain (high glycemic carb). Take your typical obese American. If you were to take a look inside them, we'd all be surprised at the amount of fat on that person. Take someone who is fit - doesn't eat sugary carbs, has a good diet, lean muscle, exercises, etc. If we were to take a look at their insides, we'd see good lean muscle, some fat but not a lot. If we flip the analogy over to cattle, think of a cow on a high sugar diet with no exercise (stuck in a feedlot) versus one who eats different blends of grass (vegetables), roams freely, and has a relatively stress-free life. Which would you rather eat?
USDA Choice and USDA Prime are categories of meats. We think it means higher quality, but it actually refers to a classification of fat content! It has nothing to do with how the cows were raised or what they were fed. The best analogy I heard on the podcast was that the Strauss Direct cows are the CrossFit of cows - healthy and fit. I won't go into it here, but it should be obvious the health benefits that come from eating beef that was raised by eating vegetables versus sugar. For more on that, stay tuned to the blog next Sunday to here more about sourcing your meats.
Grass Finished refers to how the cattle are fed immediately before slaughter. Typically, even if a cow is grass fed it's entire life, unless they are grass finished, then the cows were sent somewhere else after they were transferred from the pastures. Usually this means they are sent to feedlots and fattened up right before slaughter. By doing so, they gain weight quickly and can be sold for more money. But we know that's unhealthy weight the cattle are putting on. Even though you will see "grass fed" on a label in the supermarket, unless it also says "grass finished," there is no requirement by law for the cows to continue to be fed grass through the entirety of their life. Read your labels!
This goes along well with the grass fed and grass finished point. Even if cattle are grass fed and finished, they are still confined to feedlots or cramped pastures. Strauss Direct believes in letting cattle roam "the way nature intended." This allows for exercise, a variety of grass blends in their diet from different parts of the pastures, and a generally happier life for the cattle.
Never Administered Hormones/Antibiotics
It should almost go without saying that if a farmer is raising cattle on a grass only diet and finishing their diet in the same way, that they wouldn't be administering hormones, but it happens. Strauss is committed to no hormonal consumption by any method. They want their cattle to grow and live their life as naturally as possible in an open environment - not pump their livestock full of growth hormones. Think of the analogy back to a fit versus unfit human being. We know we shouldn't fill ourselves with growth hormones, so why would we want that in our food where we get our source of life?
No antibiotics either. All the animals in the Strauss system are never given an antibiotics. If a cow becomes sick and requires medical attention, it is pulled and separated from the heard and later sold as beef under its regular label via that farmer. But all the animals that are part of the Strauss Direct system remain separate and are never administered any antibiotics. This also includes the grass in the pastures. The pastures are specifically located to avoid bad runoff from rivers or dumps or other toxic environments. So as the the sun sources the grass with nutrients through photosynthesis, the grass nurtures the cattle through their digestive processes, which in turn sources us as humans. We are getting our nutrients directly from nature and no other added ingredients, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, or anything unnatural.
Raised Sustainably and Humanely
Strauss Direct probably most prides itself in its humane treatment of animals. If you think about it, all the previous points support a sustainable and humane treatment. Feeding cows their natural diet, raising them in open pastures, no hormones or antibiotics. They are taking it steps further and don't do things like branding their cattle. Think about what happens when you get stressed out. All your muscles tense up, you get knots, you're cranky and irritable. Well, by removing stress from the cows lives, their muscles (the meat we eat) is so much more tender because they lived a stress free life.
CrossFit Eta & Strauss Direct
After hearing all this and so much more through the podcast and their website, I ordered myself the CrossFit Box (pictured above) to give it a try. It's honestly indescribable, but it truly was the best meats I've ever had in my life. I cook and grill 5+ pounds of steak and chicken weekly, and this was the best I've had. It was even easier to cook! My personal favorite cut is ribeye. When you looked at the Strauss ribeye, it still had the small sliver of fat in the swirl, but it was so different compared to what I normally buy at Kroger or Costco. Even cuts I don't normally prefer were better than what I normally eat. Even something as simple as their ground beef made the best hamburger I'd ever had. Throughout the time we had the meat, we went to two different restaurants where I ordered ribeye (normally my absolute favorite), and it wasn't as good. Buying regular cuts (including USDA Prime from Costco) weren't the same anymore afterwards. You can taste the difference. But beyond that, it's what going on inside that makes the difference. *SPOILER ALERT* Next week's blog is going to talk through sourcing your meat and why it's even more important than sourcing your vegetables! Throw that term organic out the window - you'll learn why next time!
Noticing how important this was to my health personally, we now as a gym have registered as an affiliate of Strauss Direct through their programs. If you are interested in buying their meat, we have a coupon for 30% OFF your first order! This really makes these high quality meats affordable and they are delivered straight to your doorstep in only a matter of days. The code will always be listed under our bio for Instagram if you ever need to reference it or give it out to a friend! In the coming weeks as Strauss publishes more content for their affiliate program, we will get that out to you via our social media profiles so you can learn more as well. Happy eating!
My personal recommendation is the CrossFit Box that comes with Chicken Breasts, Ground Beef, Tenderloin Filets, Rib eye Steaks, Strip Steaks, Sirloin Steaks, and even some Beef Sticks (taste like sausage). It's A LOT of meat and should last you awhile!
30% OFF First Order - AOZC65QIY6JK