"Veal is, in the minds of connoisseurs, the most delicate, elegant and delectable of meats." Craig Claiborne, Cookbook Author and former NY Times Food Critic. To diners, milk-fed veal symbolizes the epitome of refinement and taste. Its velvety smooth succulence is only the beginning. Unlike any other meat, our quality assured veal gracefully surrenders its subtle yet distinctive flavor to the most creative and savory seasonings without ever being overpowered.
Acclaimed chef and restaurateur, Pierro Selvaggio, owner of the famed Valentino Restaurant, in Santa Monica, California affirms, "One of the specialties of any Italian restaurant is veal, and Valentino Restaurant is no different. The height of a main course is a veal chop. In a chop house it would be grilled, in a French restaurant, served with morels and cream sauce, and in the Italian restaurant, the classic elegant indulgence is with mushrooms or deglazed red wine."
Nowadays, more chefs are showcasing veal in an array of exciting entrees, salads, and appetizers. Depending on the cut and preparation, milk-fed veal can be light or hearty, yet it is always nutritious and satisfying.
Milk-Fed Veal is the meat from male Holstein breed dairy calves. Male Holstein calves purchased by veal farmers are nourished with nutritionally complete milk supplement, similar in quality to that of baby formula, until they reach almost five months of age and weigh approximately 500 pounds.
The production cycle starts with cows on dairies that must give birth about once a year to continue producing milk. Newborn female calves are celebrated by diary owners as future milking cows that will join the herd. However, when male calves are born, since they cannot produce milk, they are of little or no value to the dairy farmer. Only a small percentage of male Holsteins are raised to maturity and used for breeding. While the Holstein cow is prized as a milking breed, it is not widely demanded for beef. Holsteins do not grow as efficiently on affordable beef diets nor do they yield the type of conformation that is most desirable for beef versus breeds such as Angus, Hereford and Charolais.
Veal farmers purchase the unwanted Holstein bulls from the dairies, to raise for milk-fed veal, and thereby rescue them. Milk-fed veal are by no means "babies," although the misconception still prevails. It takes 4 1/2 to 5 months to produce premium quality milk-fed veal meat that is lean, succulent, delicate yet tantalizing in flavor, ivory or creamy pink in color and firm yet velvety smooth in texture.
Raising Milk-Fed Veal is a relatively labor intensive and costly production process. Nutrient dense, highly digestible milk formula costs approximately 10 times more than grain and roughage feed for beef. But, the results make the added expense all worthwhile in terms of the premium quality, flavor and texture of the veal meat that is produced. It is also worthwhile in terms of the superior nutritional quality and health benefits that it provides to the veal calves.
Veal calves are raised by family farmers who earn their living growing calves in a healthy environment. Veal farmers would have nothing to gain by doing anything other than what is best for the health and well-being of their calves. In fact, gentle animal care production, maintaining excellent health, avoiding costly sickness and medications, reducing stress, and providing positive human contact are top industry priorities.Today's modern, environmentally controlled veal barns provide for animal health and safety. The barns are lighted by natural and artificial light, and provide a constant source of fresh air, heat during the winter, and cooling during the summer.
Calves raised in individual care units (or stalls) receive individual and specialized monitoring, nutrition, iron supplementation, healthcare and cleanliness care. Individual stalls allow implementation of good preventative medicine procedures, complete parasite control and waste removal.
Individual care units are used to separate and protect calves. These stalls provide a safe environment where the calves can stand, stretch, groom themselves, lay down in a natural position, socialize with their neighbors, and are invaluable to the health of the animal. They allow the farmer to individually look after each calf daily and be certain that each appears healthy and is eating properly.
Veal farmers also purchase other byproducts from the dairy/cheese industry such as whey and whey protein concentrate. Their livestock and byproducts purchases help offset dairy production costs by almost $300 million annually which helps the dairy industry keep consumers' prices for milk and cheese more affordable.
The U.S. veal industry is environmentally friendly, using more than 5,367,500,000 pounds of whey and milk byproducts which would otherwise present significant disposal problems and consume tremendous landfill space.
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