Ok, so Beth Goullart first broke a little tidbit about Hyde Park Grill and their meat claims. I, like most people I have talked to, get the impression from their menu that they buy all natural meats by my vague definition of it being free from nasty stuff. In fact, it says it on their menu. See Beth's article here, where she learned they get their meat from Winn, which doesn't carry any Texas meat even though the menu claimed they had Texas-raised Wagyu burgers.
Well, they changed their menu to say 'American-raised.' I understand if maybe they originally had Texas meat and just had not updated their menu or something. It's completely understandable, but also made me want to be a little more aware of their menu.
As I've mentioned before, I have made the decision to not eat any meat that I can't verify it's source and feel assured they were treated humanely. So, while there last I noticed they said they carry Sterling Silver beef that was all-natural, hormone & antibiotic free. I went ahead and looked them up at the table. Their website (www.sterlingsilvermeats.com) doesn't say anything about 'natural' or free of anything. It just has some basic content saying it's premium, aged, and graded. Then it talks about how it's owned by Cargill foods, the largest privately-held company in the US ($120Billion revenue), and that just this premium meat subsidiary employs 35000 people. This made me suspicious enough to not order any meat and investigate further later on. I don't think big companies are inherently bad, mind you, but Cargill is a pioneer in confinement lots and has come under a lot of criticism, including for their recall of @ 1 million beef patties for E-coli contamination. So I asked where their chicken comes from and he had to go ask the manager who informed him it comes from Labatt's distribution. Not encouraging. So I got some farm-raised catfish....which I may swear off one day, but for now I'm ignorant enough of their problems to order it.
So, this week I called Sterling Silver. They say that their meat is, in fact, certified 'natural' according to this USDA definition:
A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as - no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)
For my purposes, that leaves a lot to be desired. First off, none of the actual definition applies to antibiotics or hormones added before the meat is processed. It's just saying they don't paint it red or pump it with preservatives. It also doesn't touch the treatment of the animals. The rep at Sterling said he would email me full information. I haven't received it yet. I hope it has pictures of happy cows in fields. I really do.
I don't mean to pick on Hyde Park, I really have liked them as a restaurant. It's just that I get the impression they care about their food and ingredients. If they weren't making claims about the quality of their ingredients I would be less picky. I wouldn't eat there, but I wouldn't call them out. With so many great choices for quality meat these days, I just don't see any excuses and I hope more restaurants start making the right choice, like even fast-food restaurants do (read P-Terry's and TerraBurger).