Having trouble coming up with the perfect Father's Day gift? If a shirt or tie doesn't seem quite appropriate for your dad, you might want to consider something else in a gift box, maybe, say, one-fourth of a cow.
Oak Park resident David Johnson and his wife, Nicole, owners of Grand View Pastures, are offering a 100-pound beef box, promoting it in L.A. community newspapers ads as "The Ultimate Father's Day Gift!"
The Ventura County family have been raising cattle for five years on their 330-acre ranch, which is in a little town in Missouri. Asked why they bought land so far from their California home, Johnson tells Squid Ink it's all about fresh water, clean air and green pastures.
"All the water, all the runoff in that area, is protected from heavy industry. That's what led us to that area. I was born and raised in Oklahoma and Texas, so I know that part of the country fairly well," says Johnson, who works as a television producer in L.A.
The Johnsons, who spend summers on the ranch, worked with the United States Department of Agriculture Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This conservation initiative helps ranchers and farmers come up with environmentally friendly designs for their land and animals. In keeping with the EQIP plan, the Johnsons have their 150 cattle move among 22 different pastures.
"We're constantly rotating the cattle. The cattle are not beating up the ground and it's not eroding," Johnson explains.
The Johnsons raise Wagyu (Japanese) cattle and cross-breed Angus cows with Wagyu bulls, which produces beef known for its marbling. The cattle are pasture-raised,
without hormones or antibiotics. (In addition to grass, some of their nutrition comes from grain in creep feeders that are placed in the pastures.)
"Wagyu is very important to us," says Johnson. "In our tasting of the different kinds of beef, we really liked the flavor, the texture and the tenderness of the Wagyu breeds. The Japanese for years bred for flavor and taste, not size. We chose to go that direction ... to pick the best beef that we could possibly get."
This is the first year that Grand View Pastures is selling its beef. Included in the 100-pound box will be a variety of steaks, including rib-eye, bone-in New York strip, filet mignon, flat iron, top round, skirt and Delmonico.
There is also an assortment of other cuts, such as fajita and kabob meat, brisket, tri-tip and several different roasts. In addition, there are hamburger patties and ground beef for dishes like spaghetti and chili. (And there's a bonus of bones for your dog, if you want them.)
"A hundred pounds, that keeps my family of four in beef for the better part of half a year, and we've got two high school kids who eat a lot of hamburgers," Johnson says.
The cost of the beef box is $9.25 per pound, or $925, which includes shipping the meat in a freezer truck from Missouri to a cold locker in Oxnard, where it can either be picked up by customers or delivered to their homes.
"You're getting a great deal on the steaks, and you're probably paying a little bit more for hamburger than you should, but that's kind of my price point to get it out here and make it work," explains Johnson.
If 100 pounds of beef is just a bit more than you can handle, Johnson is taking names of people who would like to split a box. Anyone with questions can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call him (818-970-7717).
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The first shipment of beef is expected to arrive in California around July 5. (So you're going to have to be creative when you tell Dad his gift is on the way. Maybe you can drop hints, like mooing. Or present him with a bottle of his favorite steak sauce.)
Each beef box comes with a special I.D. or tag number, allowing the history of the meat to be traced, something that Johnson says was important to him and his wife. If customers are curious about the life of the cattle, Johnson will provide the information: "If somebody's interested ... I can tell them everything they need to know about that cow."
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