The Big Deal About Lifetime-Grazed Beef

At Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, we sell a wide variety of quality fresh meats that are intended to suit the wants and needs of many different consumers. This includes a line of 100% grass-fed beef from Thousand Hills Cattle Company in Minnesota. Now celebrating their 15th year in business, Thousand Hills describes their products as “Beef with Benefits” and also coined the phrase “Lifetime Grazed” which indicates the animals only eat grass for their entire lifetime. According to the folks at Thousand Hills, there is an important point of distinction to be made between truly grass-fed beef and what is allowed to be labeled “grass-fed” beef.

 As we have seen happen with labeling for many foods, “grass-fed” has become as much a marketing term—a justification for charging higher prices—as an accurate description of what’s really in the package. Consider that under some circumstances, cattle could be pasture-fed for a period of time and then sent to a feedlot to be “finished” on grain, where they will quickly and cost-effectively reach a hefty slaughter size and weight, and the beef produced could still be labeled grass-fed, as long as the producer obtains the proper approval for labeling it as such.  This happens all the time. So if you want the benefits of eating truly grass-fed beef, it pays to ensure that’s what you’re buying. Look for beef labeled 100% grass-fed.

What’s the difference? Our friends at Thousand Hills wish more people would ask that question. It turns out that what the cattle eat can and does affect what we eat when we consume the beef. For example, grass-fed beef contains a much healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than does grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also contains much more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is said to help fight cancer and promote weight loss.  In simple terms, cows that eat what cows were meant to eat are healthier than cows whose feed is designed to make them larger and heavier.

Then there are the environmental benefits. The cattle farms utilized by Thousand Hills utilize a practice called rotational grazing, which is the intentional and planned movement of livestock to different “rested” sections of pasture in order to maximize the quality and quantity of forage growth. Rotational grazing on multiple pasture areas enhances bio-diversity on the land and helps build topsoil. Increased topsoil is good for the land and also for the environment at large by increasing carbon sequestration (the capture and long-term storage of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere). Through rotational grazing, the cattle feed on a variety of healthy grasses. Healthier pastures make better food for the cattle, which in the long run means better beef for the consumer.

Speaking of human consumption, 100% grass-fed beef tastes the way beef is supposed to taste—the way beef tasted before grain feeding became the conventional way to raise beef for more profit. Lifetime grass-fed beef is far leaner with a more natural beef taste—and the fat that’s there is healthier fat, as we’ve already discussed. Keto/Paleo diets encourage eating 100% grass-fed products (beef, milk, cheese, butter) because their fat profile is healthier for us.

Does 100% grass-fed beef cost more to produce? Yes. Grass-fed cattle take much longer to reach their slaughter weight. They cost more to feed and because they live up to a year longer than conventional feedlot cattle, their care and upkeep also cost more. On top of all that, in the end, grass-fed cattle weigh less, so each animal yields fewer pounds of beef. All of this translates to a higher cost at the register, but such is the cost of a more humanely raised, healthier, more environmentally friendly food source.

For all of these reasons, Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets carries products from Thousand Hills Cattle Farms at each of our seven locations. If you are looking for quality, 100% grass-fed beef, we think you will be pleased. Please stop in and pick up some today!

 

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Behold the Midnight Beauty Black Seedless Grape

 

Grapes have been around for a very long time. In fact, the intentional growing of grapes began 6,000–8,000 years ago in what is now considered the Middle East. Many grapes are developed and used for wine production—a practice that is also thousands of years old—while other varieties, generally referred to as “table grapes” have been selectively bred to be consumed raw and used in recipes. Table grapes tend to be larger in size and have somewhat thinner skins. Many are seedless.

Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets always carries a variety of fresh table grapes at each of our seven locations. Right now we have an excellent variety of black seedless grape called Midnight Beauty® from our friends at Sun World, a quality grower in California. They describe their Midnight Beauty® brand grape as large, crisp and bursting with sweet flavor. As grapes go, this really is an attractive fruit.

But don’t let that sweet flavor fool you. A cup and a half of these delicious grapes packs only 90 calories, in addition to healthy antioxidant plant substances like polyphenols, resveratrol, and flavonoids. Grapes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

When selecting grapes, look for clusters of firm, plump fruit with full color. Wet, shriveled or moldy berries should be avoided, but grapes covered with “bloom” are perfectly fine. Bloom is a naturally occurring white substance that coats the outside of the grapes, protecting them from moisture loss and decay. It’s safe to eat, but can easily be removed during washing by rubbing them with a bit of baking soda or salt. Then rinse the grapes under cool, running water for at least 30 seconds. Speaking of washing, it’s best to store grapes unwashed in their original container and then wash them before consuming. Always check for grapes that are broken or show signs of decay—before. during, and after storage—and remove them at once.

Midnight Beauty® black seedless grapes can be eaten fresh or used in a variety of recipes. Have you ever made a fruit pizza? The folks at Sun World created this how-to video, which we thought you might enjoy.

Midnight Beauty® black seedless grapes from Sun World are generally available from June through September, so get yours while they last!

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Giardiniera: How to Pronounce It and More

It can be somewhat entertaining to watch the unfamiliar trying to spell or pronounce the word giardiniera. Fortunately, it’s easier to say than to spell. Don’t look at the spelling of the word, just say it, nice and easy: jar-din-AIR-ah. Some Chicagoans will drop that last syllable, saying something more like jar-din-AIR. It’s the same thing and it’s delicious.

This is the go-to condiment for Chicagoland lovers of Italian beef, Italian sausage, and meatball sandwiches, to say nothing of Italian submarine sandwiches, pizza and more.  Loosely translated the word means “from the garden” in Italian. You will find giardiniera in stores all over Italy, but it won’t be the same thing you find here. According to a Chicago Tribune article, what they call giardiniera consists of larger chunks of pickled vegetables, usually packed in vinegar and better suited to serving on a platter than on a sandwich. The Chicago variety, by comparison, is intended to be used as a condiment or relish. And while the veggies are indeed pickled, they are most often packed in oil.

What kind of veggies?  The recipe can vary greatly from one brand to another, but frequently includes hot and/or mild peppers, celery, carrots, pitted green olives, and other vegetables (cauliflower, pimento, etc.) mixed with a spice blend and covered in a stable salad oil. Most hot versions include sliced or chopped “sport” peppers, a variety of small, medium-hot chiles that are often found whole on a Chicago-style hot dog—but that’s a story for another time. Most times when we order an Italian beef sandwich with “hot peppers,” at least around here, the sandwich is served with hot giardiniera.

Here’s a quick tip: If you are applying hot giardiniera to your own sandwich, you can somewhat control the heat by regulating how much oil you allow to go on your food. The oil captures the oil-like compound capsaicin from the hot peppers. You want a little more heat? Let the oil go on your sandwich along with the veggies. Less heat? Let the oil run off before putting the veggies on your food. It’s all relative, though. Don’t expect miracles.

Outside of Chicagoland, you might not find many choices of giardiniera from which to choose. We don’t have that dilemma here. Quite the opposite, in fact,. As evidence we invite you to step into the giardiniera aisle at any of our Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets locations. There you will find an array of brands and varieties broad enough to satisfy any giardiniera lover’s appetite and quite possibly overwhelm the faint of heart.

We’ll make it easy for you, though. Try our very own La Bella Romana brand of hot or mild giardiniera. Packed exclusively for us and available only from Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, our giardiniera is very flavorful and also provides a crunchier texture than do many other shelf brands, which tend to be a little soft from processing. Whether you’re new to giardiniera or a seasoned pro, give La Bella Romana a try. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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2018 Neighborhood Pioneer Award Presented to Angelo Caputo

Local entrepreneur and promoter Ron Onesti took some time out of his often-manic schedule last Saturday to recognize our own Angelo Caputo at Onesti’s Little Italy Fest-West in Addison, a four-day festival devoted to Chicagoland’s Italian-American culture and heritage. After bringing Angelo and his family up on stage, Ron presented the festival’s first-ever Neighborhood Pioneer Award in recognition of Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets‘ 60th year in business.

“When you define family business, this is definitely the epitome of family business,” Onesti proclaimed to the crowd gathered around the entertainment stage. “You walk into corporate headquarters, you’re greeted by granddaughters and grandsons, sons-in-law and it’s just a great family thing. It’s the essence of being Italian.” An assistant brought out the award, which Ron then presented to Angelo and his family amid cheers from the audience.

Ron Onesti has a long record as a staunch supporter of keeping the Italian-American culture strong.  Born on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy, he has spent many years supporting and representing numerous Italian-American causes and organizations. Through his company,  Onesti Entertainment Corporation, Ron has personally established multiple Italian-American festivals across the Chicago area.

When asked about the significance of this award, Ron responded, “This award has been established to recognize an individual who has come “from the neighborhood”, and that could be any neighborhood, and has risen to become a significant part of the economic fabric of the community. It is someone who has lived the American dream and has given back a hundredfold. The Angelo Caputo family epitomizes the very essence of what this award stands for.”

The award is now on display at Caputo’s corporate headquarters, where a number of Angelo’s family members work, just as Ron had described Saturday. Since Angelo’s retirement from full-time work, his daughter Antonella and son-in-law Robertino oversee the company, assisted by their sons and daughters in various capacities. As large as it has grown, Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets very much continues to be a family business and we, along with many others, gladly do not see that changing anytime soon.

The Angelo Caputo Family is grateful to Ron Onesti and his organization for this very special gesture of recognition.

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