by Allison Wiseman
There are a whole lot of things that I miss about growing up in West Michigan… lakes as big as oceans, using the shape of my hand to give directions, swarms of fireflies, and the
smells sounds of the cows waking up at Woodworth Farms just across the road from my childhood home. I’ll never forget discovering why a farmer would have so many cows that weren’t used for milk*, but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it was the beginning of an even greater appreciation of one of the most gentle (and giant) animals I’ve ever met.
Today, living and working in Portlandia, I still jump at the chance to be up close and personal with the cattle that are raised worthy of procurement in the land of all-things-sustainable.
Here at Southpark Seafood I am extremely lucky to be working in a restaurant that has such high standards of sustainability in all things. Despite the bar being set at ceiling height, it was an easy and natural choice to partner with Laney Family Farms (LFF) to deliver Portland the highest quality of grass fed, grain finished beef.
“Buying Oregon food isn’t just hipster feel-goodery,” is the bold and opening statement of LFF’s tenets of providing sustainably raised Oregon products , ” Our customers and fans are true food statriots, believers in the unparalleled, the uncompromising, the best damn food you can find. “
This is the message behind the beliefs at Laney Family Farms. These ideas are clearly present in every word, motion, and cow personification (fine, I was the only one talking to the cows and replying to myself) performed by members of the Laney family; three of which (Scot, Ryan, and Hanna) I had the pleasure of meeting with recently.
LFF is partnered with other local cattle ranches whose mission is to provide the most sustainably raised and highest quality Oregon beef year round – outside of this operation this system is virtually unheard of. Most massive beef productions are focused on the calendar year producing one round of new cattle, one round of mature/finished cattle, and one big check that the owners and operators live off of until the same time the following year. LFF, on the other hand, aims to provide finished beef twelve months of the year to keep consistency and quality as high as possible at all times. This means Southpark Seafood always has access to the freshest and highest caliber beef available to give you the burger that you know you want to eat every day**.
Owner Scot Laney remarks on the process: “It’s easy for people to think of this being some old-school, old-fashioned way of doing things, but that’s really not it at all. This is new – a completely new way to sustainably provide finished product year round. On top of that, this is a farmer or ranch-driven idea, it really is a true partnership between Chefs and farms like ours. Without Chefs like Ryan Gaul who were willing to work with us as we worked to fine-tune the process, a market wouldn’t exist where product like this would be desirable.” Through partner-farms and an incredible timing (I hear cows like to go into labor on holidays), they have been able to keep this process going for almost 7 years now.
Scott adds, “People have to realize that grass fed beef is more tough than grain fed beef, and if a Chef doesn’t know what to do with it then we wouldn’t have any product to sell. I think in the Portland area we’re especially lucky that Chefs appreciate our process and work with us on what is available – because they know it’ll be the best of what is out there. “ LFF’s beef is grass fed and grain finished, meaning that the cattle reap the benefits of both the grass and grain fed diets. Furthermore, the beef is whole-carcass dry aged for up to three weeks to achieve the most desired characteristics of any steak, loin, or grind you could ever want.
The bottom line here is that Southpark Seafood is extraordinarily proud to be partnered with Laney Family Farms, and cannot thank them enough for helping us take extreme pride in the fresh and sustainable menu that we offer every day.
*If you find yourself still wondering, give me a call and we’ll talk.
**Seriously, we serve it 7 days a week.