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Written by Lynne Curry, co-chair Slow Food Wallowas and author of the new cookbook Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut

In 2001, I moved from Seattle to the remote Wallowa Valley in eastern Oregon. I was drawn to the lifestyle of a small town mixed with artists, self-starters and ranchers and easy access to the wilderness. Cows and their newborn calves populated the landscape that spring, but I didn’t give them a second thought.

At the time, I didn’t even eat meat, and I certainly never expected to devote over two years to researching and writing about beef. Back then, beef was beef was beef. In the supermarket, all of it came from a single, centralized commodity supply chain controlled by four corporations.

In 11 years, beef has diversified into many niche markets—natural, organic and grassfed. Across the country, high-end restaurants now feature grassfed steaks, grocery chains sell a variety of natural and organic brands, and we all have more decisions to make at the meat counter.