After a first meeting with ranchers, the plan to possibly bring local beef to local markets took another step forward in a meeting with people who might be interested in selling locally raised meat and other foods. Included among them, the Executive Chef at Mammoth Mountain.
Inyo/Mono Agricultural Commissioner George Milovich and Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio worked to get a US Department of Agriculture grant to look into the feasibility of a natural and local beef industry.
At this after lunch meeting at Whiskey Creek Restaurant in Bishop, those who attended were served samples of New York steaks from grass fed cows along with wine. While cattle are a common sight in the Eastern Sierra, the beef that was served at this event was raised and processed outside of the area.
Local cattle are mostly shipped off to become Harris Ranch Beef. One reason the cattle cant be marketed where they are raised is that there is no US Department of Agriculture inspector in the Eastern Sierra. One idea up for discussion is a truck mounted mobile processing plant that could allow beef to be inspected, packaged and sold locally.
Interest from the ranchers, restaurants, stores, and others will depend on whether or not there is demand for the local food. In other words- does it pay?
For those wondering who would buy local beef and other foods, Reed Hearon, the Executive Chef at Mammoth Mountain assured the crowd that the Ski Area is an interested customer.
With beef ground fresh every day for burgers, all the way to high end steaks, Hearon explained that the Ski Area currently buys all its meat from outside of the area. We are here and we are anxious to spend the money, he said.
Citing the heritage of the Basque shepherds in the Eastern Sierra, Hearon explained that he cant buy locally raised lamb to sell to customers. It drives me nuts, he says.
This meeting was only one part of the feasibility study to see what might work here. The next step is to complete the study and see where that information leads.