Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can get answers to our customer’s most frequently asked questions.
Learn more about our beef packages and how they are produced.
How much freezer space do I need to store my boxed beef package?
In terms of how much freezer space will be needed, the general rule is one cubic foot per 35-40 pounds of packaged meat.
Check your home freezer capacity and utilization to determine your space availability. Freezer space can vary significantly based on the size and type of freezer you may have. Kitchen refrigerators can vary from 3 cu-ft. to over 8 cu-ft. of freezer space. Home freezers only appliances can vary from 3 cu-ft. to over 21 cu-ft.
Can we come see where our Beef is produced?
At Midwest Best Beef, we strive to offer more than high quality, safe, healthy beef. We offer our customers a relationship with the land that sustains the beef, the farmer than raises the beef, and the Angus that will ultimately become the beef we sell. We welcome and encourage our customers to help us build that relationship. Farm visits are an important tool used to cultivate the relationship between the farm and the customer.
We do request that you remember this is a working farm. Farming, as with any businesses, requires decisions based on daily priorities. We will not always have time to meet and things will not always be perfect. Certain tasks will sometimes take a backseat to getting a crop harvested before the weather turns bad. That being said, we value the farm visits and encourage all our costumers to schedule a farm visit to learn more about us first hand and how our beef is produced.
How can I be sure the meat is safe?
Our beef is processed in a State licensed and inspected plant. It goes through the same rigorous inspection process as the meat in your local grocery.
What is the difference between Organic and Natural Beef?
Organic Beef is USDA certified organic. This mean the animal is raised and processed under the USDA’s National Organic Standards rules. Organic livestock are given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, and are fed 100 percent vegetarian organic feed. Production and handling operations must undergo onsite inspections and have farm or operating plans in place in order to be certified organic. The standards also specify feed requirements, including what is and is not allowed. For instance, in organic production, livestock cannot be fed plastic pellets for roughage, or feed formulas containing urea or manure. They cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. Processing lockers (butcher) must segregate their handling of organic and non-organic meat.
All of these USDA requirements and record keeping drive significant cost into the final product. Additionally, finding a local locker willing to take on the organic certification regulations can be challenging.
Midwest Best naturally grown beef share many of the same standards of production. Like organic beef, our beef are fed a strict vegetarian diet containing no antibiotics, growth hormones, animal by-products. Our animals are also raised in a fresh, clean environment. Where natural deviates from organic is in the record keeping, processing and source of the vegetarian diet. Natural beef are not required to maintain the exhaustive record keeping from birth through processing that is required for Organic beef. Additionally, we are not limited to processors that are willing to take on the organic regulations required by the USDA. Finally, we are able to feed the animals conventional vegetarian feeds such as alfalfa, corn and soybeans rather than certified organic versions of the same feed stuff.
By opting to market natural beef rather than organic, we are able to provide a high quality source of beef to consumers with many of the same attributes at a price that is much more affordable. We build trust in our product by striving for full transparency. We encourage people visit the farm at any time to see for themselves how we raise our cattle. We feel the “show me” approach is more reliable than a self regulating certification process embraced by the organic industry.
Whether an organic farm or natural like ours, we encourage people to always visit the farm and shake the hand of the person who produces your beef. We feel a farm visit will tell you more about how your food is produced than government regulation.
What do you mean by grass fed, grain finished?
We like to say we raise our cattle “Old School”. We finish our beef the traditional way my father and grandfather did with quality hay and corn raised right on our farm .We appreciate that grass fed beef has many desirable health attributes but we also realize that the majority of people have come to enjoy the taste and texture of grain finished beef. While not as efficient as industrial beef feedlots or as expensive as grass fed beef, we believe our feeding system provides the best of both worlds by providing a superior beef experience you can taste along with many of the health benefits.
Our beef spend their entire life eating a diet rich in various high quality grasses and alfalfa. During the last months of production, we slowly introduce increasing amounts of corn into their diet to provide the grain finished flavor and texture desired in high quality beef. See the “Feeding” section in the Life on the Farm page for more details. Grains like corn are energy-dense, and cattle finished with grain in their diet generally yield more marbled beef with a milder flavor(less gamey) than beef finished on grass alone.
Midwest Best Beef “grass-fed, grain finished” beef is higher quality and better for the environment than conventional feedlot grain-fed beef. In contrast to our high forage diet, commercial feedlots opt for a high grain/byproduct diet with little resemblance to the animal’s natural diet. Besides being harmful to the animal, it has a negative impact on taste and texture. We refer to most traditional industrial feedlots as grain-fed rather than grain finished. Grain fed refers to the practice of feeding very little quality grasses and hay in favor of primarily a grain/byproduct diet through most of the production phase.
By feeding our cattle a diet rich in quality hay, we believe they are able to retain much of the omega 3 essential fatty acids, CLA, and other beneficial nutrients found in grass finished cattle without sacrificing the high quality taste an texture.
The animals are never concentrated in cramped feedlots or subjected to antibiotics or growth hormones. It’s grass fed , grain-finished beef done right.
Why is your beef different than commercial beef?
We are asked all the time why more farmers do not employ similar methods to develop the great tasting beef our customers have come to appreciate? Many times even farmers that direct market will still use commercial feed methods. The short answer of coarse is economics. It is cheaper to use animal and food by products and waste to feed beef than high quality vegetarian feeds. However, feed economics is not the complete answer. The system is set up to encourage a race to the bottom for beef quality. I will try to explain
Farmers in general are amazingly efficient and respond quickly to market demands. In the case of beef production, the market demands and rewards ONLY efficiently. Taste is not a characteristic rewarded and therefore it is not considered. Once this is understood, you will understand why commercial beef is the way it is and why it will never change.
If I take my cattle to the sales barn (where we sell commercial live beef), my cattle are judged on 3 things and only 3 things. The color or breed(are they Angus, Hereford, Holstein, etc)? How much do they weigh? What is the body condition(how much fat, physical shape and health appearance, etc)? That is it!! Taste does not enter into the equation. It is arguable that breed and body condition effect taste but it is not the only determining factors. The cattle go into large groups and are processed at the plant. The carcass is again graded after processing for marbling(fat) content (Prime, Choice, etc) and sold to beef distributors.
While marbling is a contributor to taste and texture, it does not tell the entire story. Fat will vary in taste, texture and color based on the diet of the beef. For example, grassfed only beef will have a yellow appearance verses grain finished which is white in appearance. We believe feeding high quality hay and grains also effects taste but there is no way to differentiate between great tasting beef on the commercial level from poor tasting beef that is derived from cheap food byproducts. The marbling may look the same but the flavor will be different. It is not feasible to have taste tester taste each animal. Since there is no way to reward the farmer for taste, there is not incentive for the farmer to consider taste in the production methods. The only considerations are how fast they can gain weight in minimal facilities, how cheap can we make the weight gain and how to keep the animal healthy until processing time. Perhaps now the commercial methods make sense. The hormone promote muscle growth. This contributes to body condition and appearance as well as rapid weight gain. The antibiotics promote healthy body appearance and keep the animal well in spite of unhealthy feedlot and poor quality feeds. The cheap feed reduces the cost of production by lowering feed costs. None of these practices have any negative consequences in the commercial food system and therefore are tacitly encouraged by the system.
In contrast when we sell beef direct to consumers, we are judged almost exclusively on the taste of the final product. Most people do not care about the breed or the weight. They do not care about the muscling or marbling of the animal. All they usually care about is the taste. Even those who care about how we treat our beef and the additives we do not use, will admit taste is paramount. No matter how healthy the beef or how well we care for them, if it does not taste good consumer will not buy from us. Taste is paramount for us and the production methods we employ are all geared toward that metric.
Given all of this it might be temping to assume any farmer that markets directly has taste as a primary consideration but that is not always true. Some farmers marketing directly to consumers still use commercial methods because of the economics. They realize that most consumers have never experienced great beef and will not realize their farmer direct beef is the same as commercial beef. One way to tell if the farmer uses commercial methods is to ask what they feed and how many beef they sell direct verse sell commercially. For us, we lose money on every beef we sell to the sales barn because of our feeding methods. If a farmer sells the majority of there cattle to the sales barn and pinches a few off for farmers markets, they are using commercial feeding methods. At Midwest Best Beef, we only raise what we think we can sell each year. This removes the commercial incentives and leaves us only with the incentives of taste, animal care, and no additives: all the things our customer care about.
What is the fat content of your ground beef.
The short answer to your questions is usually 80-85%.
I asked my butcher this question. He said the he does not control the percentage. It is determined by the animal itself since all the ground beef comes from a single animal (no mixing from multiple animals). Usually around 80-85%. I asked how the grocery can offer 70% to to over 90%. He explained for the higher fat content, they add waste fat from many different cows. For the very lean, they add a combination of 2 things. They sometimes use finely textured beef (aka pink slime). The beef is harvested from the layer below hides and other parts of the beef that tradition butchers can not recover.Finely textured meat is produced by heating the last traces of meat; scraped, shaved, or pressed from the bone and hide to over 107. Melted fat is removed by centrifuge. The “meat” is exposed to gaseous ammonia. and citric acid to kill bacteria such as E.Coli and salmonella. The lean finely textured beef is added to ground beef as a filler or to reduce the overall fat content of commercial ground beef. 70% of ground beef sold in US supermarkets contained the pink slime. Pink slime can make up to 25% of ground meat sold in the US.
The second additive is beef from old dairy cows (6-10 years old) since dairy cows tend to be lean and tenderness is not an issue with ground beef.(I tend to think flavor counts). This also lowers the fat content.
What is “aged” beef?
Aging occurs while the beef is hanging in a refrigerated cooler, at a specific temperature and humidity, for 10 to 16 days after harvest and prior to cutting. When beef is dry aged two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it. Most of the tenderizing activity occurs in the first 10 to 14 days. In today’s modern processing plants, the meat is broken down and vacuum-sealed in plastic bags within 24 hours. Much of this beef will show up in a grocery store meat case within 2 to 4 days after harvest. Our beef is dry aged a minimum of 10 days.
Are the beef humanely treated?
At Midwest Best Beef, we appreciate and honor the role beef play in the food chain. Consequently, we care for our animals with as much dignity and compassion as we can until the meat is harvested.
Unlike industrial feedlots, our animals are not crowded into spaces a little as 32 sq. ft./head. We also strive to maintain clean and dry facilities. The conditions we provide eliminate the need to supplement the feed with routine antibiotics.
When it comes time to harvest the meat, the beef are transported to a local small town locker (aka butcher) in a small private livestock trailer rather than being crammed into a large semi-truck livestock trailer.
Once at the local locker, the animals are unloaded into an isolated holding pen and kept overnight for processing the next day. This allows them to calm down from the distress associated with the transport to locker. The entire process is designed to reduce stress and anxiety in the animal. Besides being inhumane, anxiety and stress have negative impacts on the beefs flavor and texture.
The steers are ultimately led to a separate room where they are dispatched. We do not use electric stun equipment. While very efficient for mass volume, these modern industrial methods can be unreliable or cause unnecessary suffering to the animal.
Why isn't shipping free like other suppliers?
The short answer is shipping is never free. Other providers simply adjust the price of the product to account for the shipping. They also tend to hide the cost by selling packages that have some beef and a lot of inexpensive items like potatoes, seasonings, desserts, etc. By design, this makes it hard to compare the actual cost of the beef with shipping. They also tend to create very small cuts with odd sizes (example 5 oz ribeyes). This is so they can get the number of cuts up while keeping the weight down and making it hard to know what you are actually paying for the beef.
At Midwest Best Beef, we do not sell potatoes, or deserts or seasons to dilute the packages and make them seem like a better bargain. We also do not hide the shipping cost.
Another method national boxed beef providers employ is having fulfillment centers statistically placed around the country. This allows them to fill an order for Florida with relatively similar shipping costs as filling an order in New Mexico or perhaps Washington state. This also means you may get very different meat depending on where each fulfillment center is stocked from.
At Midwest Best Beef, we do not have fulfillment centers or reginal sources of beef. We raise all the beef we sell and it comes from the our family farm whether we are shipping it 25 miles or 250 miles.
Finally, we do not think it is fair to add to the cost of the product to cover shipping because (unlike large boxed providers) much of our product is sold locally right from the farm. It does not seem fair to include shipping in the product for those who do not ship. For these reasons and more, we have opted to charge for shipping as required. We do not add anything other the actual cost of the shipping and packaging.
Why do I need to order twice the amount of ground beef, roasts or other cuts as I order in steaks? I only wants steaks!
We get it. (Most) Everyone loves steaks. When you go to a restaurant, no one makes you buy a hamburger to offset your steak. The problem is we are a small farmer. We are not a wholesale distributer with vast outlets to balance our inventory. We are also not a retailer who buys from a wholesaler based on demand allowing them to buy whatever ration of steaks to ground beef the customer demands. We are just a farmer that raises our beef and processes it for sale. We only sell what we raise and we must sell everything we process. Only 15 % of a beef is steaks. About 50% of the beef is ground beef. The remainder is roasts and other cuts. When a customer buys a box of steaks, they may end up buying all the steaks from a single beef leaving hundreds of pounds of ground beef and roast. If we are not careful, we will run out of steaks and have nothing left to sell but ground beef and roasts. We ask our customers to help us out by buying at least 2x the weight of the steaks in other cuts. For example: if you buy 2 ribeye’s and 2 T-bones, it would really help us out if you bought 10 lbs of ground beef and a chuck roast with it. This way we can keep supplying a mix beef cuts to all of our customers and avoid running out of steaks.
It has been suggested that we could limit demand by raising the costs of the steaks to the point where the demand is in balance with the other cuts. This seems wrong to us. We like to think all of our customers should enjoy a mix of beef. By asking all customers to purchasing a balance of our beef, we can provide a wide range of beef to everyone.
How does ordering bulk direct from the farm work?
You place an order for a quarter, a half, or a whole animal. We traditionally fill custom 1/4 orders in the fall early winter and in the summer but we do have pre-processed quarters year around while supplies last. When the beef is ready, we will take it to the local butcher for processing. We will put you in contact with our butcher so you can custom order your processing to your liking. We are happy to help you understand your processing choices so do not be afraid to ask. Once your order is complete will make arrangements with you to pick up or delivery your quarter beef. For the pre-processed quarters, you will not have cutting options. Pre-processed orders have the same cuts as our select package.
When can I order and am I obligated by ordering early?
Orders are taken year round. Pre-processed quarters are available all year. Custom processing orders are usually only available around Nov – January and April – June. Contact us to confirm since it may vary from year to year.
For custom orders, we will do our best to accommodate your delivery date. This is dependent on the finish of each beef and coordinating processing times with the butcher. Once we are close to delivery to the locker, we will confirm the custom order with you and request a $200 down payment. The down payment demonstrates a commitment to complete the order. The orders are filled on a first come first serves basis. A down payment guarantees your share.
For orders that come in after our beef is processed, we keep back a few pre-processed quarters to fill new order outside our processing window. However these quarters are processed generically to appeal to the broadest possible customer base. The pre-processed quarters contain the following:
Rib Eye, Sirloin, T-bone, and round steaks.
Chuck, Rump, Sirloin, and Arm Roast
Hamburger and Stew Meat.
Any item can be replaced with Ground beef upon request. For example.. Some people would rather have the chuck roast ground into hamburger.
Can I save by ordering with friends?
Combining orders with friends is a great way to take advantage of the custom processing.
How much beef will I receive and how much will it cost?
Purchasing on carcass weight is a common method because this is the weight the locker plant uses to assess charges. We will request a $200 down payment before we delivery the beef to the locker for processing. Once the beef is processed you will pay us for the balanced owed for the meat based on this hanging (carcass) weight plus the remaining butcher processing fees at the time of pick-up. Typically you will pay around $0.88/lb hanging weight for processing. This will vary based on your processing decisions. For example how much hamburger, any tenderizing and number of hamburger patties you choose.
The retail beef carcass yield will typically be around 62-63% retail cuts from carcass hanging weight. This may vary from animal to animal based on cutting instructions and animal generics. Therefore a typical 1/4 beef for average animal that hangs @800 lbs. will yield ~126 lbs. of retails beef.
The weight for a whole steer typically ranges from 650-950 pound carcass weight. Prices are calculated on that weight for meat and processing charges. For Example :
1/4 Beef hanging weight = 200 lbs.
Beef Cost = 200 * $3.55 = $710 to the farmer
Processing = $0.88 * 200 lbs. = $176 to the processor
Total Cost = $176 + $710 = $886
Therefore the typical retail cost average out to ~ $7.03 /lb. retails. This may vary based on cutting instruction and animal genetics.
While this is typical, it is important to remember the final price can vary widely based on the size of the animal.
See Your Beef Breakdown, Explained?
What do you mean by carcass weight?
Carcass weight – The weight of the side of beef hanging in the cooler. An Angus would yield approximately an 800 pound carcass. This is average and can vary +/- 150 lbs. The retail cut percentages are approximately 15-17% are steaks, 32-35% are roasts, 45-50% is ground beef, and 10-15% is made-up of other cuts such as brisket, and trim products.(source USDA)
What do you mean by "custom" processing?
Each side of beef is cut to the customer specifications, such as thickness of steaks, size of roasts, one or two pound packages of ground beef, etc. You can also ask the butcher about Beef summer sausage, ring bologna, hamburger patties, bratwurst, or a variety of beef sticks . Extra charges would apply for specialty items. You can choose more ground beef and less roasts? You can eliminate certain cuts such as brisket. When your side of beef is at the locker, we will put you in contact with the butcher to discuss all your options.
What is a CSA Beef Share?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in an arrangement where the members buy shares of the farmer’s product. The share can be a percentage of a vegetable harvest, eggs, dairy, etc. In our case, the CSA member is buying a share of beef. You will receive a monthly share delivery. We like to think of it as a beef of the month club. Each month you will get a different combination of steaks, roasts, ground beef, etc. The share subscriptions are 6 or 12 months in duration. Shares are sized for quantities of 10, 20, and 40 lbs of beef per month. We ask our customs to place a down payment for their share. Each month you will receive a 1/6 or 1/12 of your share for 6 months or 12 months respectively. Buying shares allows our customers to enjoy some of the savings associated with bulk purchasing without the large lump sum expense or the need to store 100’s of pounds of beef at home. It also ensures your supply of beef through the entirety of your membership.
The side of beef equivalent for each share is detailed in the table. Each share subscription will receive the entire side of beef equivalent(all the cuts) just as if you purchased the side of beef.
|Monthly share||6 Month subscription
Side of Beef
|12 Month subscription
Side of Beef
|10 lb||NA||1/4 Beef|
|20 lb||1/4 Beef||1/2 Beef|
|40 lb||1/2 Beef||Whole Beef|
For example: If you purchase a 12 month 10lb (1/4 beef) share membership, we will ask for a $100 membership fee plus your processing fees. We will then deliver a 10 lb package of meat each month for 12 months. The farmer share of your costs will be split into 12 equal amounts and billed with each delivery(approximately $60 depending on actual weight).
Are all my monthly deliveries the same in content and size?
The monthly delivers will be relatively the same in size(weight) but will vary in content. Since the individual cuts of a beef are not equally portioned, it is impossible to delivery the same content each month. One month you may receive a rib-eye and an round steak. The next month you may receive a T-bone and a sirloin. We do our best to give you a little of each of the major groups each month (steaks, roasts, ground beef, stew meat), but that will vary depending on the size of your share and any special requests such as steaks only in the summer. You will receive the entire contents of your share over the CSA Share membership.
Example: Monthly package Contents for each 12 month 1/4 share membership contain
1-3 – Steaks
0-1 – 2.75 lbs. Roasts
4-6 – 1 lbs. Ground Beef
0-1 – 1 lbs. Stew Meat
Can I define what is delivered each month? For example can I have my roasts and ground beef delivered in the winter and steaks and hamburger delivered in the summer when I grill?
Absolutely. It is your share and we will deliver your share content in any order or mix you request. If you want your roasts in the winter and more steaks in the summer grilling season, make sense to us. If you have a guests coming and you want something special to serve, just let us know and we will adjust your monthly deliveries accordingly. When you buy a share, you are buying a portion of a beef. You will get your entire share over the subscription period. How we deliver that share can be up to you. If you do not want to think about it, we can delivery an equal mix of steaks, roasts, and ground beef each month.
What if I have not consumed all of my monthly beef delivery and want to skip the next delivery?
You may contact us at anytime to request skipping a delivery. We will simply skip the next month’s delivery and push your subscription out a month. We will also contact you approximately 1 week before each delivery as a reminder. This will give you an opportunity to re-schedule your share delivery if needed.
Can I get my CSA quarterly or semi annually rather than monthly?
Absolutely. Most of our customers opt for monthly deliveries but we do have a few that opt for every other month or even every 3 or 4 months. Sometimes this is to save on shipping. Sometimes it is merely a function of in home freezer space available or spreading out the payments. The only stipulation is we ask you take full possession of all your beef by the end of your membership period.
Why does my total share specify a range items rather than a set number of cuts?
CSA members are buying a share of an animal. Each animal will vary in size and content. For example, a longer animal will have more steaks. The share contents are based on averages and will vary slightly from animal to animal. Since each share is billed based on weight, you will always get all the meat your payed for. If you are interested in a set cut count, we do offer our packages that specify a specific count rather than a range.
How do I know when and where my order will be picked up?
Each month’s delivery location will be the same but the date will be the next pickup date available. Your reminder email will specify the delivery location, date and time one week in advance. If you desire a new drop site location at a more convenient location, we are happy to create a new one. We just require a 50 lb monthly delivery to add a new site. Get some of your friends and neighbors together to create a 50 lbs delivery delivery demand and we can meet at a place of your choosing.
How can I be sure I get all the meat from my share?
If you purchase your share before the beef is processed, it will be custom processed for you. This means each piece will be wrapped and labeled with your name and a “NOT FOR RESALE” stamped on it. This ensures two things.
1) You get your meat and only your meat. The meat that is delivered to you each month is from a single cow. There is no mixing with other cows.
2)Your meat can only be delivered to you. Your meat can not be resold or delivered to someone else since it will be prominently labeled with our name and not for resale.
How is my meat stored? Can I be sure it is safe?
All of our meat for both resale and CSAs are stored on our farm in our commercial walk in freezer (12x8x8). Our CSAs are all kept segregated from the retail to ensure no mix ups. Each person’s CSA is kept bundled together. We welcome farm visits to show customers in person how we manage our beef, both the animals and finished product.
Any other questions? Please Contact Us