We know Ryan Boon from Culture Club Cheese. Quality is the name of the game here. Ryan is now the go-to for pasture-reared, sustainably sourced meat.
Ryan is based in the Boland of the Western Cape. He started his butchery operation with his wife Soné in 2011, and now supplies most of the finest restaurants in and around Cape Town. He is also well known to local hunters for breaking down their bounty and producing choice cuts and biltong for them.
All Ryan’s lamb is certified Karoo Meat of Origin. Unlike the supermarkets, which sell very young lamb with little to no fat, Ryan specifically goes for older (Grade C) lambs which have lived a longer life and have some (deliciously flavoursome) fat running through them. The grade does not, as people would be led to believe denote quality. Grade C is far tastier and the animals get to live a longer, happier life.
For lamb to be certified as originating in the Karoo, it must be farmed in a region where certain aromatic fynbos plants are present. Chief among these is the woody skaapbossie, but here is a list of all the contributing aromatics:
Ankerkaroo (Pentzia incana)
Kapokbos (Eriocephalus ericoides)
Rivierganna (Salsola glabrescens)
Silverkaroo (Plinthus karrooicus)
Boegoekaroo (Pteronia glauca)
Skaapbossie (Pentzia spinescens)
Ryan sources his lambs from Williston. Lambs that are Karoo Meat of Origin in Carnavon down the road have a completely different flavour to those in Williston, because the grasses they live off have different flavours.
When you receive your lamb, there is a tracking number on them, which you can literally follow back to the farm https://www.karoomeatoforigin.com/karoo-members/
These animals are typically allowed to range freely on the veld, like wild game. They give pointed meaning to the term ‘free-range’.
Ryan Boon sources from a Greenfield’s satellite farm in Napier called Fairfield.
As there is no branding for grass fed meat in South Africa, Greenfields wrote their own protocol against which they and Fairfield farm are audited.
Under the Greenfield’s protocol, 5% of the cow’s bodyweight is permitted to be supplemented by grasses such as hay and grass seed grown by the farmer on his own land during times of winter or drought. There is one cow per hectare of land and calves are kept with their mothers as long as possible.
“We do not feed our cattle and feed grade antibiotics, or given them any growth promoting hormones. Although our farm is not ‘certified’ organic, we make our own compost to feed the lands and soil health and grass production are as important to us as the cattle that graze the lands.
We produce only as much beef as our farmland can sustain, in the hope that our quality and service make up for the smaller production.
We have a butchery on the farm, where we honour old fashioned flavor. Great care is taken in cutting, hanging, ageing and packaging to our customers specific requirements and then delivered to some of the best known steakhouses and restaurants in Johannesburg and Durban.
Producing the best quality grass fed beef is our mission and passion. We trust you will appreciate and enjoy all of these good things when you prepare and taste our beef”
As you can see on the table at the bottom of this page, red meat animals are categorised by age, rather than quality of meat. A grade meat is coveted misleadingly according to Ryan, who deliberately choses C grade meat, which means the animals are c.50 months old at slaughter, meaning they have more fat and therefore flavour, and have also lived much longer lives than industry A grade of 18 months.
In order for beef to be sold as Greenfields Free Range Beef the following protocol is followed:
- The animals must be able to range freely over large camps/pastures with unlimited access to grass and fresh water at all times.
- The animals are grass-fed. In harsh circumstances supplementation is necessary but this supplementation is naturally concerved hay or silage. Grain may not exceed 5% of the total dry matter intake over the lifetime of the animal.
- No animal by-products are allowed
- No growth hormones, steroids or stimulants are allowed
- Greenfields beef adheres to the four pillars of free-range ethics:
- Free access to food and fresh water in large camps/pastures.
- Freedom from sickness and disease
- Freedom from pain and suffering
- Freedom to express natural bovine behaviour.
Ryan sources pork from Oak Valley Pig farm. There are 3 pigs per hectare and they live off acorn a diet of GM Maize and Soy, supplemented by acorns from 4000 oak trees on the farm. Their acorn and foraging regime is key to both the texture and the rich flavours of their pork. Oak Valley Acorn-Fed Pork is certified free-range, hormone and antibiotic free. I am looking to source pork from elsewhere, because of the GM feed invoiced with Oak Valley pigs – but so far I have not found a suitable contender that allows their pigs to range freely.
Ryan does use nitrates in bacon – 0.2% nitrates in the brine – but can make without nitrates to order.
All springbok, ostrich, Blesbok kudu, warthog, impala, blesbok come from Buffelshoek Safari in the Kruger. All animals are completely wild and are killed for culling – when herds trample through farmer’s lands. This farm is one of two of the only venison certified farmers in South Africa.
Sourced from several free range farms when available
All patties and sausages contain no gluten or MSG except pork rooibos and honey sausages which has some rusk to prevent them from falling apart.
Ryan’s biltong all has a little MSG and potassium sorbate, except natural handspiced.
All the steaks as well as the beef prime rib are aged for 14 days. The ageing process is nullified or neutralised if you freeze the steak.
Red meat grading according to age (number of teeth) and fat covering