GRASS, GRAIN OR PRETZELS?

Cows don’t seem too fussed about a lack of variety in their diet. Grass or grain and a bit of water and they seem satisfied, with the meat taking on slightly different characteristics as a result of their diet. However, one American company is taking Philadelphia by storm with their special beef. The secret? The cows are fed lots and lots of junk food.

The cows belong to snack giant Herr’s, which has for a long time held a herd of cattle on the near 1,000 acres of farmland in near their headquarters in Pennsylvania. These cows eat grass watered by the leftover water used to wash potatoes, and are fed the unsellable snacks. These include potato peelings, over-baked pretzels and chips that were too small to sell. The menu was approved by animal nutritionists, and even includes cheese curds when supply allows.

Although the cattle were never directly sold to markets or restaurants, rather as mass-market or breeding animals, chefs and customers got wind of the unusual diet and demand grew and grew.

“”It’s something really special,” said Charles Parker, executive chef at Philadelphia’s Talula’s Garden. “It has a pronounced beefy flavour that is stronger than typical beef, but milder than lamb. The cow’s diet lends the more subtle things like an unusual toasted cheddar note, and it’s a little sweet.”