Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Union, Missouri: Richard Schmidt

Coming into St. Louis was a huge change from rural Illinois; luckily we had a place to stay with Carrie, my mother's best friend in the world. She offered us refuge from the unrelenting heat of July in the city.  She also offered us pizza and the name of a farmer friend of hers, Richard Schmidt.

Richard and family are about 15 miles outside of St. Louis in a wealthy looking subdivision. He raises and sells beef now, but got started with food in a culinary setting. Richard is a former chef and restaurant owner who wanted to move away from urbanity in St. Louis. He found the countryside of Union and decided to try his hand at raising "good beef." That is, beef that doesn't take antibiotics, that graze for most of their food and eat grain that is grown locally.

Richard lights up with pride when he speaks about his cows, and he told us about the first cow he raised through the whole process of birth to slaughter to food. Right now Richard has seven cows, and he brought us to the barn to meet a few of them. They turned out to be shy and skittish, but Richard assured us that they get very used to him and are sweet and friendly. This business venture has proved profitable for Richard; he reports that in the 3 years he's been selling beef the public has been very willing to pay a higher price for natural beef. There is a desire to age gracefully, and having a new son keeps Richard conscious of his and his childs health.

He sent us on our way with some hardy beef jerky.  We had no cooler with us and it was 100 degrees, so we devoured it quickly to the delight of our tongues and the confusion of our mostly vegetable-filled stomachs.

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