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Grass-fed beef makes debut on menu at St. Louis Rams home opener.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

September 4, 2014

3 Min Read

In my world, September signals the beginning of football season. And football season triggers an indulgence in football food. This year NFL fans attending the St. Louis Rams game will have a variety of food choices. My favorite is the hot dog, but even that is changing. There is the traditional hot dog, the pretzel dog, the 100% beef hot dog, and now the grass-fed beef hot dog.

During the St. Louis Rams season opener at the Edward Jones Dome, Sept. 7, fans can choose to dine on grass-fed hot dogs and burgers. This marks the first time grassfed beef has been on the stadium concession menu.


The100% grass-fed, locally-sourced beef is from former Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon's farm near Owensville, Mo. Shire Gate Farm raises beef on pasture without antibiotics or hormones. Its products also carry the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) food label. To have beef products certified AWA, farmers and ranchers must comply with 15 standards areas, which include criteria on castration, weaning and housing. AWA is a voluntary program.

In an AWA news release, Witherspoon had this to say about his operation: "At Shire Gate Farm, we're committed to producing great-value, wholesome food as naturally as possible. AWA and I see eye-to-eye on how cattle should be raised--outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, just as nature intended. The AWA logo is our way of showing customers that we really are doing the right thing by our animals, and the environment."


Now, I am not a fan of Animal Welfare Institute, who oversees the AWA program, because of their call to "abolish factory farms." I believe any mantra that divides an industry is counterproductive to the success of the industry as a whole, especially an industry that is made up of less than 2% of the U.S. population. However, I am a fan of farmers--all shapes, all sizes, and all production styles. And because of that Witherspoon deserves a little kudos.

Witherspoon is bringing farm food back to football vernacular. Now, when St. Louis Rams fans head to the concession stand they will remember or be enlightened that hot dogs and hamburgers are actually produced on farms and ranches across our state. That is at least a small step in the right direction of bringing the consumer closer to the farmer. And it is a big step for those raising grass-fed beef.

Now, if we could just get the concession stand to say "Thank a farmer for your football food." Because last time I checked, nachos started out at corn and dairy farms, pretzels at wheat farms, hot dogs at pork and beef farms, candy at soybean and corn farms, and beer at barley farms. I guess America's farmers and ranchers truly fuel football fever. Go Rams!

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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