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"Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation." - Writer Edward Abbey 

Fresh produce arriving weekly from area farms!
Call ahead for the latest details on store inventory.

Collaboration with Temple Grandin  

a partnership spanning 20 years      

Back when farm-to-table marketing company Ranch Foods Direct was just a glimmer in owner Mike Callicrate's eye, he began a lasting collaboration with author, writer and researcher Temple Grandin aimed at making ranch operations as humane for livestock as possible.

Grandin needs little introduction as the esteemed Colorado State University animal scientist who turned her affliction with autism into an asset by using it to gain groundbreaking insights into the sensory perception of animals, which led to new approaches to humane livestock handling. Her awe-inspiring story was widely circulated when it was included in an award-winning book by Oliver Sacks and later became the subject of an HBO made-for-TV film, starring Claire Danes. Over her career, she has published dozens of her own books and spoken before countless audiences on topics related to livestock handling, animal behavior, education and autism.

Mike began collaborating with Temple when she was still relatively unknown outside of agricultural circles. Over the years, her influence at Callicrate Cattle Company has extended to employee training, corral and facility design and advice on humane castration and slaughter procedures. Mike continues to call on Grandin and her team of graduate assistants in the process of developing new procedures and innovations at the ranch.

"We can always count on Temple to say exactly what she thinks," he said. "She's very clear and to the point. She doesn't have a political agenda. Her only agenda is improving animal welfare."

Grandin, who gives hundreds of presentations a year, spoke earlier this summer during the "Slow Meat" festival in Denver. She told her audience she cares about how animals are treated but she's not a vegetarian, for health reasons. "I get so light-headed I can't function," she said of going without meat. Livestock benefit the environment by utilizing land unfit for farming crops. And substitutes for meat aren't necessarily greener, she added. "Almonds are big water pigs," she noted of one of the most popular replacement proteins.

Among today's livestock welfare issues that bother her most is animals that have been bred for such fast growth or such high milk production that they have poor physical confirmation and lack disease resistance. She also has concerns about artificial growth promotants fed to cattle.

But there are more subtle problems, too, such as making sure that animals receive adequate nutrition, which could include supplementation with grain when forage quality is lacking. She also advocated using animal health products when appropriate to treat specific pests or diseases, for example lice or parasites. She said she had seen "fancy cattle going into fancy programs," that were itching and scratching because they were lice-infested, highlighting the importance of experienced animal husbandry. In cattle that are underfed, she noted that poor quality meat often results. She explained that when muscles get too low in glycogen, due to lack of sufficient energy, it's like "a car running out of gas."

She also called for common sense food safety and livestock handling regulations. "Meat is not a sterile product. One of my big concerns today is that people are going into the policing arena who are too far removed from practical things."


Bringing back barley as a feed grain crop
As a consequence of widespread monoculture cropping of corn and soybeans, other feed grains have faded from the landscape.

Now Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate is leading the charge to bring back alternatives such as barley, one of the world's oldest known cultivated grains. 

Because of Mike's interest in using barley in feed rations, more fields are appearing in the countryside surrounding Callicrate Cattle Co (including the one shown above.)

There are several good reasons to bring back barley, Mike says.

"Barley is a high quality feed that is particularly good for animals that are on a no-antibiotics diet," he says. "It has more fiber and doesn't cause accidosis, which often results from a finishing diet that is too high in corn." Barley is also higher in protein than corn, another characteristic that makes it extremely healthy for livestock.

In addition, barley benefits the land when grown in rotation with other crops. Farmers and scientists are learning that increased plant diversity improves soil quality and water retention and reduces topsoil erosion. It also fosters increased populations of beneficial soil micro-organisms.

Barley is a salt-tolerant species and is sometimes used for reclamation of saline soils.

Barley's health attributes offer benefits for the land, the animals and, ultimately, people. "The most important thing is that barley is still a nonGMO crop," Mike says. "Monsanto doesn't sell it."   

Feast your eyes on these new 'zines...     

Associate Publisher Nanna Meyer, right, holds a copy of a special preview edition of LOCAL FOOD SHIFT magazine, which features an in-depth article about Avondale grower Dan Hobbs and how he helped to launch the first food hub in Southern Colorado. (You can find organic seeds from the Hobbs Family Farm for sale at Ranch Foods Direct.) The magazine's first full-scale issue is due for release during the first week of September! To subscribe, go to


Also new on the scene...  


This summer our friends at COLORADO COLLECTIVE produced the first sample print edition of their beautiful online magazine (left) dedicated to makers, crafters, doers and entrepreneurs in Southern Colorado. Copies are for sale for $10; order yours by visiting the CoCo website.


CoCo has also been hosting a series of summer farm dinners... the final one in the series will feature nose-to-tail cooking by Chef Kevin Campbell and is slated for Sept. 26. They are calling it the party of all parties! Tickets are $68 each and can be purchased at the CoCo website. Dinner info is provided under the tab entitled The Collective Plate. (Tickets for Kevin's dinner go on sale Aug. 15.)   

Customer Snapshot: Meet Justin, Christina and Aria Blake of Colorado Springs      

WHO DOES THE COOKING IN YOUR FAMILY? We both do, although Justin cooks more of the meat items.

WHAT ARE YOU BUYING TODAY? Something to barbecue. We're thinking about steak: maybe a flat iron or a skirt steak.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHOP HERE? Once a month or so.  

LIST SOME OF YOUR FAVORITES: Beef short ribs, stir-fry and stew meat. We like to make a good old-fashioned stew or sometimes goulash.

WHY DO YOU SHOP AT RANCH FOODS DIRECT? (Justin) We had an extensive conversation when we first came here with the owner about how they treat the cows right. The biggest selling point for us is the humane treatment of the animals. (Christina) I didn't eat any meat, until I got pregnant, and then when I did, it had to come from here!

ARE YOU COLORADO SPRINGS NATIVES? No, we're from Brooklyn, New York. We've been in the Springs since 2013. We like both places. Things do close a little early here for our taste. If we could live here and have New York City off in the distance, that would be kind of fun.

Special Summer Hours:
Open Saturdays until 6 p.m.

Watch the new bone-char video!