Audubon Honors Women’s History Month, Profiles Panorama Organic Rancher Carolyn Carey

Our partners at Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program have been honoring the women of conservation ranching this month. One of them is Panorama Organic rancher Carolyn Carey, who’s also the founder of the Born and Raised in the U.S.A. certification found on every package of Panorama Organic’s grass-fed beef.

Rancher Carolyn Carey wearing denim American flag vest

Rancher Name: Carolyn Carey

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Carey Ranches

Location: Alturas, California

What is your favorite bird and why?

Owls… we have many on the ranch… as well as great rodent control, they’re fun to watch and “talk” with.

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

We’re proud of our management plans with Audubon and Ducks Unlimited. The Pit River runs through our ranch and irrigates the meadows. We devised a management plan to continue providing wonderful habitat. Swainson’s Hawk and Ibis and the threatened Bank Swallows are here because of the way we’ve managed the ranch for 50 years. I’m also the Vice-Chair of the board of California Rangeland Trusts and their plan is to help ranchers keep ranching to save the land.

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

My mother. She went to Cal Berkeley and graduated in 1938 with a degree in Business as one of the few women in those times to have a business degree. She was brilliant. She had incredible common sense in addition to being very educated, which she never flaunted. One of my best memories is when kids came over to our house and we’d sit around the table doing homework and visiting. Someone would have a problem with algebra, French, Spanish, etc. and without saying a word, my mom would get out of her chair and go over to the big bookcase. She’d bring back the right book and set it down in front of them. We could always count on her to get more information about whatever subject we needed. She was such a strong, unassuming, commonsense type of person.

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

Every situation is so completely different but you need to have a bit of a financial background and you can’t get flustered by much of anything. Just be ready for whatever might come up at whatever time of day!

Support Carey Ranches

Carey Ranches is one of the first Audubon Certified bird friendly ranches in California that produces Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef™. You’ll find Panorama Organic beef at retail locations throughout the U.S. and online at Crowd Cow for shipping nationwide.

Read about other women working to save the planet here.

Kids’ Sports: Basketball, Volleyball, and Junior Rodeo

While kids are kids no matter where you go, ranch kids experience very different lives from their urban and suburban counterparts. On the ranch, kids go to school, of course, and do chores, just like most kids, but those chores might involve riding a horse, caring for animals, and even taking part in annual round-ups. 

The Hafenfelds in Weldon, CA—parents Eric and Jamie and kids Gus (14), Charlotte (12), and Ward (9)—are an example of a multi-generational ranch family that works together and also plays together. While the younger members of the family are involved in traditional team sports like basketball and volleyball, they’re also devoted to rodeo. “I would say the baseline for my kids’ love of and success in rodeo is the amount of miles that they get on their butts from cowboying on the ranch. They all work like adults and have lots of responsibility,” says Eric Hafenfeld.

Ranching family with father, mother, and three boys wearing cowboy hats
The Hafenfeld family: Gus, Charlotte and Ward (front, l-r), Eric and Jamie (back)

A brief history of rodeo

The sport we know as rodeo today got its start almost 150 years ago when ranch hands and cowboys would compete to see who was the fastest and most proficient at accomplishing their tasks—roping, riding, and handling animals. In the late 1800s, Buffalo Bill’s touring Wild West Show was probably the first to showcase cowboys and their skills in front of large audiences filled with city people, and in the 20th century, rodeo became not only a way to compete with other ranches and cowboys (and cowgirls), but a way to earn substantial prize money. Promoters organized contests in cities all over the East Coast and in Europe as the cowboy became a romanticized symbol of America’s Wild West spirit.

While rodeo’s popularity as a spectator sport has ebbed in favor of professional football, baseball, and basketball, for the ranching world, it’s still a way to promote skill-building, teamwork, and camaraderie and honor the hard work of raising livestock. In Kern County where the Hafenfeld family ranches, junior rodeo is a vital part of the fabric of the community. 

Kern River Rodeo Association seal

The Hafenfelds and some friends started the Kern River Rodeo Association to give local kids from the age of four through their senior year in high school a way to get involved in positive activities that help build their characters. “There’s nothing more beneficial than adversity and the connection with animals for our youth to develop their work ethic and their true beings,” says Hafenfeld. KRRA is a non-profit that organizes rodeo events, brings in professional rodeo riders and ropers to hold workshops and teach skills, and provides prizes and college scholarships.

In addition to ranching skills like horsemanship and animal handling, and life skills like teamwork and problem solving, rodeo offers many intangible benefits. “Overcoming immense adversity,” says Hafenfeld. “Understanding how to win and being able to dig through all of the rigamarole and pressure when you’re backed into a box for a high team run. And going out there and being able to put it down and analyzing what you’re doing wrong, and continuing the spirit and drive to make yourself better. Which is not associated with an electronic device.”

One other thing sets rodeo apart from most kid sports. “The work ethic and big dedication to taking care of animals on a daily basis no matter what the weather’s doing,” says Hafenfeld. “Making sure that their partner in in their event has got everything they need to be successful. They need a blanket on a cold night, and they need a clean bucket of water, and plenty of feed. You have to be able to get home from basketball practice or from a game at nine o’clock and go out there and take care of your animals.”

There’s no carb loading in rodeo.

Good nutrition is important for everyone, but for rodeo kids, the Hafenfelds believe that a protein-dense diet is optimum, especially when it comes from the organic, grass-fed cattle they raise. Rodeo is an all-day event, and carbs just don’t offer enough sustained energy through the day. “They need energy so they’re not tired all day,” says Jamie Hasenfeld. “No carbs in the morning. We don’t go to a junior rodeo on a cinnamon roll. We go on a bacon and egg breakfast.”

The Hafenfeld family has been ranching on the South Fork of the Kern River about 65 miles northeast of Bakersfield since 1867. They’re committed to protecting wildlife, water conservation, and preserving open space on their owned and leased land. Their cattle summer in the mountains at elevations up to 9,200 feet and then winter in the river valley. They’re part of the Panorama Organic family of organic, grass-fed ranchers. 

And will the youngest generation continue the tradition? “Well, that’s gonna be their decision,” says Eric Hafenfeld. “If they choose to do that then they will, and nobody’s gonna be forced to do it. But it’s a labor of love and a love of labor.”

Three children standing in a pasture on a ranch
Gus, Charlotte, and Ward Hafenfeld
Young rancher riding a horse behind cows on a ranch
Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle with side of fries in copper bowl on a wooden cutting board

It’s March! Let the Burger Madness Begin!

Millions of people across the country know that when the calendar flips over to March, that can mean only one thing—NCAA March Madness. Not everyone is into basketball like some of us on the Panorama Organic team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join in the March excitement. 

For people who would rather think about food instead of (or in addition to!) sports, we offer up Panorama Organic’s March Burger Madness. Our brackets are filled out and all we need for you to do is vote for your favorite burgers. Each time you vote, you enter our drawing for ten pounds of delicious and healthy Panorama Organic grass-fed ground beef. One lucky winner will be announced at the end of March, along with the winning burger as determined by our followers.

The process is simple. Visit our Instagram and Facebook pages beginning March 7 to see the brackets. The first two weeks we’ll be featuring our burger recipes along with cooking tips for making the best burgers ever. Then the voting will begin. You can pick your favorites in each bracket and the winners will advance from the Good Eatin’ Eight to the Fabulous Four to the Best Burger Ever championship round. 

To make it even more fun, we encourage you to make the burgers and post your photos using the hashtag #MarchBurgerMadness. Use the coupon code BURGER10 for ten percent off on ground beef at the Perdue Farms store or find our ground beef at retailers across the country. Check out our Where to Buy page to find the closest to you.

Our followers will name one burger the best. Will it be the American Classic? The Green Chile Cheeseburger? How about the Western Ranch burger? Join in, and please share your own burger recipes. We love seeing your creativity!

Feeling Resolution Burnout? The #GrassfedChallenge Can Help

If you’ve been struggling with keeping your New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. In fact, January 17 has been designated Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day, the day when most people bail on their resolutions and go back to their normal unhealthy habits. 

To help keep you on track, Panorama Organic is running the #GrassfedChallenge, a social media campaign designed to help keep you motivated to stick with your efforts to become a healthier you. To highlight the benefits of organic, grass-fed beef as part of a healthy and environmentally friendly diet, Panorama Organic is offering discounts, promotions, recipes, shopping lists, and encouragement, along with a contest and giveaways, throughout the months of January and February.

It’s easy to join the fun. Just follow @panoramaorganic on Instagram and @panoramameats on Facebook and like one or more of our recipe posts. For extra entries, repost @panoramaorganic recipes to your Instagram story using #GrassfedChallenge.  The grand prize winner will receive a handcrafted Panorama Organic wooden cutting board, a Panorama Organic box of hand-selected meats, and a one-year membership to the National Audubon Society to support their conservation ranching efforts. The second prize is a gorgeous grass-fed cookbook, Pure Beef by Lynne Curry.

To help you with your shopping, our partners at Perdue Farms are offering a 22% discount on Panorama Organic purchases and a special Whole 30 bundle. Use the code GRASSFED22 at checkout. Also, Crowd Cow will be offering a 30% discount on our 93/7 ground beef during the month of February and a 20% discount on Panorama Organic’s meatballs and sausages.

According to registered dietician Victoria Seaver of EatingWell, “Protein does your body a lot of good. It builds healthy cells and repairs ones that are damaged, keeps your immune system in tip-top shape and it helps you to feel fuller for longer after a meal.” Grass-fed beef delivers more nutrients and aids in supplemental weight loss. Grass-fed beef has 60% more Omega-3’s, twice the vitamins A and E, three times more conjugated linoleic acid (reduces heart disease), less (total) monosaturated fat, and a higher concentration of (good) unsaturated fats than conventionally raised beef. 

“With Omicron and the fierce winter weather, many of us are seeking foods to prepare at home that are both highly nutritious and great tasting. Those same foods and purchases can directly affect the livelihood of U.S. ranchers and the health of our planet. For January and February, we have enlisted our partners in a social media #GrassfedChallenge campaign to include Panorama’s organic, non-GMO, grass-fed beef, that nourishes our bodies and planet, as part of a healthy diet,” says Kay Cornelius, general manager of Panorama Organic Grass-Fed beef. 

Join us in the #GrassfedChallenge today. Even if you don’t win a prize, you’ll win with delicious meals and a healthier body.

Grass-fed Beef: It’s Good for Human Welfare, Too

by Barry Estabrook

I lost my appetite for mass-produced, grain-fed beef about a decade ago while speeding along Interstate 5 in California’s Central Valley on a cloudy winter afternoon. My epiphany came as I passed a feedlot then owned by the Harris Ranch Beef Holding Company. Occupying more than a square mile, the complex of fences and feed troughs could accommodate up to a quarter of a million cattle. They spent the last months of their lives in fetid conditions jammed together shoulder-to-shoulder on top of their own excrement and, depending on the season, goopy mud or a haze of thick, brownish dust. I could not see a single blade of grass. Most memorable, however, was the putrid, sulfurous stench. It somehow seeped in through the closed window of my car miles before I passed the feedlot and lingered long afterward.

I didn’t want that memory to come between me and my grilled sirloins, so I switched almost exclusively to the meat of grass-fed cattle, who live their entire lives grazing on open pasture, as cows are meant to do. In part, I made the change for reasons of animal welfare, but I have learned that going grass-fed also contributed to my own welfare.

Two slices of raw top sirloin steak with herbs, salt, and tomatoes on the side and jar of melted butter in the background

A few years ago, I joined about 100 farmers, chefs, and academics at a conference that convinced me of the healthful benefits of grass-fed beef. We were at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture just north of New York City for the release of a detailed report on grass-fed beef entitled “Back to Grass.” Citing many studies, the report’s authors concluded, “Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is healthier than conventional grain-finished, especially when grass-fed cattle have access to healthy, ample, and diverse pasture.”

“Regardless of the genetic make-up, gender, age, species, or geographic location [of cattle], direct contrasts between grass and grain rations consistently demonstrate significant differences in the overall fatty acid profile and antioxidant content found in their lipid deposits and body tissues.”

 For starters, grass-fed beef contains less than half the total fat per serving as grain-fed, according to an analysis undertaken by Susan Duckett of Clemson University, and the fat contains far higher percentages of so-called “good” fats. Although grass-fed and grain-fed meat contain the same amounts of saturated fat, which the American Heart Association says should be restricted because it can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, not all saturated fats have the same impact. Studies show that grain-finished beef has much more myristic and palmitic fatty acids, both of which raise cholesterol. Grass-fed is higher in stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol levels.

 An extensive review led by Cynthia Daley of the University of California Chico published in Nutrition Journal in 2010 reported that research spanning three decades consistently suggests that “grass-only diets can significantly alter the fatty composition and improve the overall antioxidant [antioxidants prevent damage to cells] content of beef.” 

She went on to conclude, “Regardless of the genetic makeup, gender, age, species, or geographic location [of cattle], direct contrasts between grass and grain rations consistently demonstrate significant differences in the overall fatty acid profile and antioxidant content found in their lipid deposits and body tissues.”

Like many, I take a daily supplement of fish oil in to make sure I’m getting adequate amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which tend to be lacking in the typical North American diet. But research indicates that I would almost certainly be better off skipping the pills and getting my omega-3s from a well-balanced diet, including fatty fish and, as it turns out, grass-fed beef. 

According to Daley, omega-3 acids can play a crucial role in preventing heart disease, arthritis, hardening of the arteries, and cancer. They even lower the incidence of depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Grass-fed beef contains higher concentrations of omega-3 acids than grain-fed.

Grass-fed beef is also packed with vitamins.

Cattle are designed to eat grasses, not grain. Putting them in a feedlot with a diet of grain raises the acidity of their digestive systems, which reduces the production of compounds called conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) by a factor of three, compared to production in animals that eat lush, green grass. Numerous animal studies have shown that CLAs can prevent cancers, hardening of the arteries, and slow the onset of type-2 diabetes. Some research indicates that CLAs might even help obese humans lose body fat.

Herd of cattle grazing in tall grass on ranch with green hills in background

Grass-fed beef is also packed with vitamins. Beta-carotenes are precursors to vitamin A, which is important for good vision, bone growth, healthy skin and mucous membranes, and immune function. In a 2005 article in the journal Meat Science, a group of Argentinian researchers led by Adriana Descalzo reported that grass-fed beef delivered fully seven times as much beta-carotene as grain-finished. Similarly, grass-fed beef was found to contain nearly three times as much vitamin E, which protects against heart disease and cancer.

As you can imagine, cramming cattle together by the tens, or even hundreds, of thousands on vast feedlots and forcing them to eat an unnatural diet of grain leaves them susceptible to a range of pathogens—some of which might land on your counter top and plate. 

To keep animals in their care from getting sick, three quarters of large feedlot operators routinely feed antibiotics to their cattle, even those that are perfectly healthy, “as a health and production management tool,” in the words of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This practice creates ideal conditions for the development of antibiotic-resistant germs, which some of the most potent drugs in the modern medical arsenal cannot destroy—so-called Superbugs.

The acidic conditions in the guts of grain-fed cattle not only hamper production of beneficial fatty acids, but make the animal perfect incubators for E. coli 0157:H7, a bacterium that has evolved to tolerate the acidity of our own stomachs. Although it does not sicken cattle, resistant E. coli from feedlots has can spread to humans, either on meat brought home from the store or via contaminated air and water. The result is one of the most worrisome food-borne diseases in the country. E. coli infections can cause nausea, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and in some cases lead to a long, lingering death, not a great ad for one of Americans’ favorite meats.

In its 2105 “Beef Report,” Consumer Reports revealed that laboratory-tested samples of beef produced on feedlots were twice as likely as sustainably produced samples to carry bacteria resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics. Three different strains of MRSA, a potentially fatal, drug-resistant Staphylococcus bacteria were found on conventional meat; none on sustainably produced cuts. Overall, grass-fed specimens had a three times lower likelihood of carrying any resistant bacteria compared to conventional.

As Frederick Provenza of Utah State University reported in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, “Animals foraging on phytochemically diverse pastures require less anthelmintics [drugs that kill parasites] and antibiotics than animals foraging on monoculture pastures or in feedlots.” In short, pastured cows are healthier than those stuffed with grain.

Every month or so my wife and I indulge in a proudly all-American dinner. The menu consists of a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a buttermilk-based blue cheese dressing, oven-baked potato wedges, and hamburgers. It’s thoroughly retro in every way but one: The burgers are made from American-raised grass-fed beef. It’s nice to know that the meat contains only 10 percent fat. And since we tend to err on the rare side when we grill burgers, we like the security of knowing that the patties between the buns are very unlikely to come with a side order of pathogens.

But in the end, what keeps us coming back is the flavor: tangy, moist, and deliciously beefy. Perfect, when all you want is a burger that is truly good—in all respects.

Barry Estabrook is the award-winning author of the New York Times best-seller Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. He is a former contributing editor at Gourmet, and his investigative reporting on food, nutrition, and agriculture has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and The Atlantic. His latest book, Just Eat, details his adventures in the world of modern dieting. This article appears in the Panorama Perspective, available at retailers who carry Panorama Organic products.