Roasted Estancia skirt steak served with a corn empanada and smoky pimentón chimichurri sauce was beefy and tender, with a leaner, less fatty mouthfeel than conventional grain-fed beef. During the three-course dinner, Estancia CEO Bill Reed and business partner J.P. Thieriot fielded questions. Reed claimed that grass-fed beef sales make up perhaps one tenth of one percent of national beef sales. The challenge with beef is the amount of land needed to produce it, far higher than that for, say, pork or chicken.
Addressing the carbon footprint issue -- does it makes sense for San Franciscans to eat grass-fed beef from Uruguay, rather than cattle raised primarily on grain and only finished with grass? -- Reed pointed out that how a steer is raised affects meat's carbon footprint enormously. He said Estancia steer are "raised in a free-range manner, sustainable, and there are no pens or feed lots. Estancia is able to use solar energy instead of oil, and does not put the steer under taxing conditions." Somehow, knowing an animal has lived a contented life in a pasture somewhere -- even one in South America -- can make it taste a whole lot better.