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Meat Snacks Made from Grass-fed Beef Born in Virginia

By Lorrie Baumann

1D8A3583_colorLandcrafted Food is a brand that’s about an idea as much as about its products. That idea is that there’s a place in the American market for responsibly raised grass-fed beef and the family farmers and ranchers that produce it.

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The company was started a decade ago by Gary Mitchell, Charlotte Hanes and Brantley Ivey, neighbors in Grayson County, Virginia. The county sits in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands, firmly at the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and it’s mostly famous for the quality of its bluegrass and old time music. It’s unpretentiously rural, and the people who raise cattle there call themselves farmers rather than ranchers.

Both Mitchell and Ivey grew up on family farms and wanted to be able to pass that legacy on to their own families. Mitchell’s family has farmed in Grayson County for four generations. Ivey moved to the area about 10 years ago to manage the Hanes farm, and it didn’t take long after he and his wife showed up in the county for them to get together with Mitchell for a conversation about how they were going to wean their cattle operations from the marketplace for commodity beef and generate the revenue that would allow them to give their cattle a qualify life. “The first goal was to raise cattle the way we wanted to and to earn a premium price,” says Mitchell. “Selling into the commodity market, there’s not much motivation for doing it better.”
They went to the nearest folks they could find who might be interested in paying premium prices for quality beef – the white tablecloth chefs in Washington, D.C. Once they’d explained to those chefs how they were raising their cattle – out on pasture year-round, with no hormones or antibiotics — chefs started buying even before the company had its first meat ready for the market. “Restaurants began to tell us they wanted us to be grass-fed, and since we were in the mountains of Virginia, where there’s plenty of grass and no corn, it was a natural fit,” Mitchell says.

1D8A3257_bw“There is no market for grass-fed beef unless you develop it for your product,” adds Ivey. “We developed the market.”

Among the three of them, they own and rent about 3,000 acres, and they began partnering with other local farmers – their friends and neighbors – who saw what they were doing and wanted the premium price that Mitchell, Hanes and Ivey were paying for beef raised to their requirements. Now, they have enough beef available to branch out with a new value-added product that’s shelf-stable so they can sell it on the national market, and the team have just built a processing facility in Independence, Virginia, to make smoked meat sticks. Their Landcrafted Food Smoked Meat Sticks are now available in two flavors, Sweet Smoked and Original Smoked. Each 0.9-ounce stick is packed in a countertop caddy of 20 that’s ready to be merchandised either for individual sale or in the whole box of 20. Each stick has 100 calories, with 3 grams of saturated fat. Because the meat sticks are made from grass-fed beef, they’re lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than most other beef sticks on the market, and they’re also made with less sugar than most processed meat snacks, so they’re particularly Paleo-friendly as well.

Marketing support for the product will include shopper marketing, and a social media campaign is in the planning. The brand will be available on Amazon, and additional retail distribution is in process. For further information, call 276.773.3712, email gary@landcraftedfood.com or visit www.landcraftedfood.com.

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