At 9:45 a.m. on a Wednesday, the beef cattle at Miller Livestock in Kinsman are wrapping up the equivalent of a typical human Sunday morning: sleeping in, sharing breakfast, taking a leisurely walk. By 10:30, they're at the butcher.
It's a system Aaron Miller has developed during a decade of full-time cattle farming, one he believes contributes to the tenderness of his beef and its popularity among area chefs.
"Just like in us, cortisol, a hormone, is released when they're stressed," says his wife and farmhand, Melissa, "and that changes the flavor of the meat." So the Millers make the process as stress-free as possible. It's the final step in a healthier and more humane style of farming in which the animals feed only on grass and rarely see the inside of a barn. It takes longer to raise a grass-fed cow, 16 to 20 months as opposed to 13 to 15 on a large-scale farm, but it produces meats higher in good fatty acids such as omega-3.
Through organizations such as Slow Food Northern Ohio, the Millers have built strong relationships with Cleveland restaurateurs, including Fire Food and Drink, Flying Fig, Moxie and The Greenhouse Tavern, to supply naturally raised beef, pork, lamb and chicken.
"The flavors are incomparable," says Moxie chef Drew Racine. "It's something instantly I could stand behind."
On The Menu
- Fire Food and Drink: The Miller farm grass-fed cheeseburger ($18) is a menu staple, or request Miller meat in the tandoor ribeye (market price). firefoodanddrink.com
- Flying Fig: Karen Small features the meat in the beef carpaccio ($9). theflyingfig.com
- Moxie: Chef de cuisine Drew Racin loves to work with pork and has already utilized Miller pork as a special. He plans to do so again, tasking the wait staff with selling specific cuts off a whole hog. moxietherestaurant.com