If you didn’t think we were crazy already, this might push you over the edge. In the early days of WonderTree I adopted a personal conviction regarding meat sales. I made up my mind to never, ever sell a cut of meat I hadn’t first tried myself. This, in my naive, self-perceived professional opinion, was my way of enforcing quality control over our operation. (some of the terms in that last sentence make me nauseous) Though all of our meats pass USDA inspection, I thought the idea to personally inspect our meat for flavor and texture quality was a good one. This conviction was compromised pretty much the day I brought home our first boxes of WonderTree Grass-fed beef. I opened the store for pastured poultry and egg sales. A lady came in and asked if I had filet. I said I did, but couldn’t sell it yet because…..

”Can I see your filet please,” she asked, assertively. 
“Well (conflicted), we have filet, but I can’t….I haven’t…well… ok, I guess so, ma’am.” 

She picked up a one pound package, eyeing it for color and marbling then, filling her arms with several of the same cuts, brought them to the counter and handed me her credit card. Literally, while she was paying, a man entered the market and asked about ribeye. I was already on a roll here, violating my stringent rules for the “Hunter Inspection,” so I directed him to the ribeyes. To be clear, I don’t know what my inspection would have entailed. I guess I was just going to prepare every different cut, sit down, take a bite, say “good enough,” then approve the sale of it. Yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds. 

That first day we sold out of filet, ribeye, and New York strip. As I shut down the market and headed in for supper I felt strange, grateful for the sales and the local response to quality, humanely raised food, but uneasy about someone taking home something I had not yet tried myself. Within days the emails started coming back. The reviews were humbling:

“Best meats we’ve eaten.”
“Can’t believe you’re doing this right here in Zionsville.”
“Why would we go to __________Steakhouse when the best meat is right here?!”
“So excited to buy more!”
“Can we pre-purchase steaks?”

And so on. 

This pattern has continued for years—raising rotationally grazed, grass-fed cattle along with pastured pork, pastured chicken, and pastured eggs locally for local people. Steaks always disappear first. I haven’t had a chance to “inspect” a single steak because they are always at yours or your neighbor’s houses, filling the air with savory aromas coming off the grill. Meanwhile, at our house, we eat a lot of ground beef, roasts, and stew meat. These are great sellers—actually our top sellers proportionately—but, come in higher quantities off the cow. Our customers are much more willing to “share” these with their farmer. 

I can report as of today, over five years after our first steak sold, the Smith family has yet to take a bite of WonderTree’s 100% grass-fed filet, ribeye, or New York Strip. They remain a mystery to our palates. We have, on two occasions, tried the sirloin. It was outrageous. Don’t get me wrong, we’d like to eat these cuts, but, we are farmers and you are our friends. We would much rather sell our very best to our friends. We realize how crazy this sounds. To work like we do and swear off certain products we produce is nuts. However, crazy as this may seem, we are crazier about your dining experiences. We are crazier about changing the future of agriculture. The idea of your families sitting down to the most flavorful, nutrient dense food anywhere–raised right down the road–is worth more to us than platters full of steaks. I mean it. And, don’t feel sorry for us. WonderTree chuck roast is better than the filet at any over-priced steakhouse. 

You trust us to raise the most quality steaks available. We’ll trust you to tell us how they taste. Thank you all so much for making WonderTree a thriving farm, right here in your community. 

Hunter Smith
March 18th, 2021

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