The Gaucho Way to Raise Grass-Fed Beef

The cattle business has changed dramatically in Argentina, but some ranches are still old school.

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

It used to be that Argentine cattle were raised solely on grass. The country’s vast herds produced world-famous beef that was not only delicious but largely sustainable. But as farming has industrialized there in recent years, the laudable livestock management system has transitioned to feedlots and grain-based diets; no longer can you rest assured that the asador-grilled steak you eat in Buenos Aires came from a grass-fed cow.

That’s not to say that the traditional way of raising cattle has gone away altogether. At Las Dos Hermanas Ranch, the 4,000 head of cattle are raised on nothing but the wild grasses that grow on Argentina’s pampas, the still somewhat wild prairie lands that resemble what the American Midwest used to be. After four years as pasture, the land is planted with organic soy, sorghum, and sunflowers for three years, a rotation that helps improve the soil’s fertility, preparing it to go back to grasses again.

“There’s nothing more—no secret, nothing weird about this,” says Ivan Grandoli, who works on the ranch.

In typically beautiful Perennial Plate fashion, this video shows the people and the work that goes into raising old-school Argentine beef. As Grandoli says of the approach taken at Las Dos Hermanas and ranching in Argentina, “Let’s do what we know how to do, which is fatten cows on grass, and we will have the best meat in the world, as was once said of this country.”

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