SPANAWAY, WASH. - I'm not sure what to expect as we splash through puddles from one end of Becky Weed's Spanaway ranch to the other. But we are greeted by a couple dozen, incredibly docile Angus Hereford beef cattle who have been feeding on grass and hay their entire lives.
'I think it's more flavorful than the meat that comes from corn and other grains which are not natural for the cattle,' said rancher Becky Weed.
'Knowing where your beef comes from is really important,' said Joe Heitzeberg.
He and Urban Spoon founder Ethan Lowry have teamed up on a new venture called Crowd Cow. Theirs is the first company that lets customers buy beef directly from small family farms like Weed’s, and it allows Weed to spend more time with her cattle and less time on the phone with butchers and restaurants.
'We decided if we could crowd fund a cow, fifty people could buy and pick and choose exactly what they wanted,' Heitzeberg said. 'Just five pounds each. Something like that.'
'It's the idea of getting that great meat straight from the ranch but without having to buy a chest freezer and without having to get 150 pounds of meat into your house,' Lowry said.
They built the Crowd Cow website and, in June of 2015, sold their first cow within 24 hours. Things quickly started to snowball. Having solved the logistical dilemmas involved with shipping fresh meat out of state, Crowd Cow projects revenue between seven and ten million dollars in 2017.
Heitzeberg and Lowry can now talk beef like your neighborhood butchers. But that wasn't always the case.
'Our background is in software,' Lowry said. 'So even just the lingo around ranches and cattle and how to talk about it correctly so the ranchers don't look at us and say we're idiots took a little while to ramp up.'
The main reason this is a success story comes down to one thing: taste. We tried steak so tender you can slice it with a fork.
Our compliments to the chef, the shipper and the rancher we met in Spanaway.
This story produced in collaboration with Start It Seattle.
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