Last updateFri, 02 Oct 2015 1pm

A good cow is hard to find: investigating meat in Mexico

Although meat is a mainstay of Mexican cuisine and vegetarians are generally not at home here, the discriminating seeker of good quality, grass-fed or organic beef, pork and lamb — especially city dwellers — may come up almost empty.

“Organic meat in Mexico — that’s a very important topic,” said Eugenio Galindo, a partner in Ecotienda, a small, 15-year-old, organic grocery store in Guadalajara. Galindo explained that in the past Ecotienda sold certified organic meat raised in Veracruz, but that now the only organic meat he stocks is chicken. His beef supplier, at least for the moment, has dried up. “Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no certified organic meat in Jalisco,” he said.

“The topic is important because with organic agriculture you can get about the same yield per acre as with conventional agriculture, but raising beef is harder. A cow raised naturally in a pasture needs more space than a cow that is confined to a stable and fed grains and additives. So raising organic beef doesn’t appear to be as efficient.”

Organic meat is likewise an important but perplexing concept to ranchers raising free-range livestock in family operations that have used the same techniques for generations.

“North of the border in the 1960s, everyone used to raise organic meat, but we didn’t know it was organic,” joked a semi-retired rancher who raises grass-fed cows and sheep east of Guadalajara. “Hormones arrived in the 70s. Now the U.S. FDA approves five of them, but they’re no good. Meat today looks and tastes different. Beef used to be rich and red and beautiful — not gray red, not burgundy.” 

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