Do you give much thought to where your food comes from or what’s actually in it? A goal of James Rickert, who manages 1000’s of acres for Prather Ranch in Northern California (acreages in Shasta, Colusa, and Siskiyou Counties), is to demystify this for people. As we’ve become more urbanized as a society, fewer people give thought to where food comes from and how it makes its way to the consumer.

The operation at Prather Ranch is two fold. Taken directly from their website: “One of the most unique aspects of the ranch is its “Closed Herd” status as part of the standard operating procedures for the beef and pharmaceutical/bio-medical device bovine raw material side of the business. The beef is hand-cut in the state-of-the-art USDA federally inspected abattoir located on the ranch. Prather Ranch is committed to the most natural way to raise wholesome beef for customers; the ranch does not administer growth-stimulating hormones or feed antibiotics. The animals are raised on certified organic pastures. No animal sourced proteins are fed to the cattle at the Prather Ranch to ensure a safe and pure product for customers. Computer based detailed records are kept on each individual animal and they are individually tracked through their entire life span.”

Prather Ranch has also earned an international reputation as a supplier of high quality bovine hides, bones, tissues, organs and other bovine xenograft materials for the medical device, pharmaceutical and biological industries.

Ranching is a Lifestyle

Meeting up with James recently at one of the ranches where they raise cattle – this one a 6000 acre ranch in Bella Vista, California – it was apparent this is a lifestyle versus just a job. He has a demanding role, one where many hats are worn on any given day. He admits to loving it.

James parents, Jim and Mary Rickert, joined the Prather Ranch operation as managers in 1979. That was the year James was born. They have since become part owners with the Ralphs family who purchased the original ranch in McDoel in 1964. Since then, it has expanded into other counties and way beyond a traditional cattle ranch.

Having grown up experiencing ranch life, James knew he would return to ranching once done with his studies at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He and his parents, Jim and Mary Rickert, play key roles in the operation of the 30,000+ acre Prather Ranch.

Touring the ranch, the cattle looked like they had the “life of Riley” in the big green pastures with plenty of room to roam.

Two Areas of Focus at Prather Ranch

High quality beef for consumers

Prather Ranch offers a premium product by dry-aging its beef for 14-21 days. A very old practice no longer used in larger facilities results in very tender beef with concentrated flavor great for consumption.

Bovine products for pharmaceutical and bio-medical purposes

“Prather Ranch has earned an international reputation as a supplier of high quality bovine hides, bones, tissues, organs and other bovine xenograft materials for the medical device, pharmaceutical and biological industries.” We’ve all heard of pig valves used in heart surgery but had you heard of a bovine screw used in orthopedic surgery?

San Francisco Gets Taste of Prather Ranch Beef

Prather Ranch beef is enjoyed at many places in San Francisco. You will find their meat in the Ferry Building where they opened a butchery several years ago. Thousands of people from around the world visit the building daily, many of which were visiting the butchery but not able to purchase a steak to take home. It became apparent it would be a good idea to open up a restaurant to offer gourmet burgers. What is more American, after all? Next time you’re in the Ferry Building, look for their popular American Eatery. You can learn more about the Prather Ranch operation in San Francisco and the many restaurants serving Prather Ranch beef with pride.

James Rickerts’ TEDxRedding Talk

If you haven’t had a chance to see James Rickert’s TEDxRedding talk from 2012 – Agriculture’s Invisible Contract – he produced this to re-introduce the consumer to where their food comes from.

For more on the Prather Ranch story, please click on the links throughout the post. They have provided excellent information to be as transparent as possible so consumers can understand more about all they do at Prater Ranch to bring high quality products to the consumer.

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November 2013