A Day Immersed in North Carolina Cattle Industry

North Carolina Cattle Industry - Anh-Tuan and Linda Nguyen
Me and Linda on a hayride

The phrase “farm-to-table” gets used so often in our everyday food language that it can sometimes be taken for granted. Two weeks ago, Linda and I had the opportunity to spend a day immersed in the North Carolina Cattle Industry. This gave us an up-close perspective on the life of North Carolina cattle farmers. We were able to take some time to consider how our beef gets to our plate, starting from the gates of these beautiful farms.

Elaine Moore’s Cattle Farm

Elaine Moore
Photo by Anh-Tuan Tran

The first stop on the tour was Elaine Moore’s farm. Through a hayride trip around her 200-year-old farm, we saw a smidgen of her daily life.

It was so peaceful to watch her cows leisurely enjoy the shade.

She addressed the often misunderstood topic of antibiotics in beef. She stated how much she cares about her animals, and “of course if they get sick, I’m going to treat them to get them better.” Later, a veterinarian explained further that before the animals are processed, measures are taken to make sure the antibiotics are flushed from their systems. They also take pains to not use antibiotics often used on humans as first courses of action.

The Harward Sisters Farm

Our next stop led us to the Harward Sisters Farm – a family-owned operation run by five sisters, who were all mentored by Miss Elaine. These five sisters started showing cattle as early as 2005. We explored their farm and said hi to some of their show cattle.

North Carolina Cattle Industry - Cows at Harward Sisters Farm

Beautifully Smoked Brisket

North Carolina Cattle Industry - Brisket by Jon G

We had lunch on the sisters’ farm. Jon G’s BBQ provided the delicious brisket. The owner also grew up on a cattle farm and gets his brisket inspiration from some of Linda’s favorite pitmasters in Texas. We had amazing brisket tacos, made from local beef, possibly from the very farm we were sitting at, the Harward Sisters Farm! What a great representation of the circle of life or the circle of cattle!

For dessert? We had Howling Cow ice cream, an ice cream company hailing from cattle raised by North Carolina State University.

(If you read Linda’s post about cereal treats in the Triangle, you’ll see a lot of ice cream!)

Finally, after lunch, the Harward sisters sat on a panel with other industry leaders to answer our question. One interesting thing we learned was a common marketing ploy. When meat at the grocery store is labeled “antibiotic free”, it is redundant because all meat in the grocery store is antibiotic-free. Veterinarian confirms that meat no longer has antibiotics in their system before being processed for consumers.

Overall it was a beautiful day. Spent observing the relaxed life of cattle, and chatting passionate farmers.

We’d like to thank these sponsors for making this farm tour possible.

Tabletop Media Group,  NC Farm Bureau, North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association,  NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life SciencesNorth Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer ServicesNC Pork CouncilNC Soybean Producers AssociationNorth Carolina Grange