Farm to Table: OATIE BEEF
Photo by JD Melton
He wondered whether the same food that lowers cholesterol and promotes health in humans could be used as a diet staple for cattle.
He conducted research, finding only a snippet of advice on the subject in an old Kansas State University textbook warning that feeding oats to breeding heifers could make them too fat.
“I worked with a food processor I knew to educate myself on what cattle would need for protein and then came up with my own ratio of oatmeal and alfalfa,” said Picolet, a third-generation farmer.
He fattened up calves with his formula and then had beef samples tested in a Kansas State University lab in 2007 and again in 2013. The meat consistently had higher protein and Vitamin B12 levels and lower cholesterol and sodium than grass-fed and grain-fed beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, pork, and bison. Most surprising? The minute steaks had less fat than a skinless chicken thigh.
Since his 2007 epiphany, Picolet and his two daughters and sons-in-law have changed their family business model to sell meat to customers in grocery stores, online, at Herman’s Meat & Smokehouse and at farmers’ markets in Topeka, Olathe, Manhattan, Lenexa and Geary County Hospital. They also deliver products to Bon Appetit Management Co., the Payless ShoeSource café, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the Kauffman Center.
Picolet enjoys bantering with fellow vendors and educating curious customers about Oatie Beef as much as he likes tending his herd.
“I like to introduce myself to customers and talk about why I think our beef tastes better,” he said. “The next time I see them coming toward me at a farmers’ market there are a few seconds when I wonder whether they liked it, but usually they tell me that it was the best steak or roast they’ve ever eaten.”
Picolet and his family’s commitment to quality, consistency and a price point parallel with top-line offerings at grocery stores has enabled Oatie Beef to establish its niche in the marketplace.
Proud of the health benefits of his lean beef, Picolet continues to research trends and belongs to a Facebook group of people whose diets consist exclusively of meat and water.
“When people buy meat in a grocery store, they don’t know what that cow’s been fed,” he said, “but with our beef, they know.”
Oatie Beef ships steaks, roasts, jerky, snack sticks, beef bacon and more nationwide through oatiebeef.com.