For the Wade family of Lucky7W farm in Wilkes County, local food is not a trend, but a birthright. Matriarch Etwenda “Tink” Wade is a fourth-generation farmer, and her three children, ages sixteen to twenty-three, do their share of chores on the 230-acre spread.
The family’s move to retailing grass-fed beef is, however, a relatively recent development. While Tink raised a few cattle for household consumption, she didn’t think about processing and marketing beef until the late 1990s, when multiple sclerosis had her “pretty much home bound.”
“I was heavily medicated, and getting worse,” she said. “I began to do research on food safety and on raising beef, and the idea blossomed as I saw the connection between the two.” Also blossoming in the process, she claims, is her health. She is now medication-free. I met her in late summer at a local farmers market and she was the picture of rosy-skinned wellbeing. Intrigued by her story—and impressed by the glowing good looks of the Wade women (eldest daughter Carissa, who assists with marketing and has a television background, is a vision of blond wholesomeness)—I bought a couple pounds of ground beef.
This was a big step. In my household, we haven’t purchased ground beef since watching the horrific slaughterhouse/meatpacking sequences in Super Size Me (and recent stories like that New York Times expose on frozen burgers mean we won’t be changing our stance anytime soon). I was fine with this; I have no philosophical principles about eating cows, but never cared for beef, finding it cloying and fatty. Our switch to occasional purchases of ground bison from Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market suited me fine.
But the Tink’s beef was a whole, well, other animal. It tasted clean and lean, the texture was firm, and the color rich. As a bonus to a lazy cook like me, it cooked quickly with zero fat to be drained. (Tink says that grass-fed beef cooks 30 percent quicker than grain-fed.)
Comparing burger from the supermarket to the product of Lucky7W farm is like pitting a cheap Old Navy cardigan against Brooks Brothers cashmere. Same concept; radically different experience.
Team Tink will be at the Decatur Organic Farmers Market tomorrow, Wednesday, October 28, from 4 to 7 p.m.
You also can order directly from Lucky7W Farm, 706-318-1515.
For more about the life of a farm family, check out Tink’s Beef Blog.