Step #1. Ask your meat cutter or butcher whether he or she carries beef from cattle raised without the use of added hormones or preventative antibiotics. Why? Many will argue against this for ethical and health-related reasons. Here's another: added hormones can lead to tougher beef and in my tasting experience, a blander flavor, too.
If they do not, thank them and say, "I wish that you would. Do you know another grocer or butcher who does?" Walk away without buying the beef.
Step #2. If the meat cutter says yes, ask them if they can tell you the name of the farm, feed yard, and slaughterhouse the beef is sourced from. If they can do this, write down the answer, give them a hug, try the beef, and let me know who they are!
If they can't (99% will not be able to answer this question), say "I wish that you did. Do you know another grocer or butcher who does?" Consider buying the beef and if it's good, let the retailer know but keep asking them to name the source.
Step #3. If you come up empty handed after Step #1 and Step #2, repeat the steps once a week and please, send me a note. I will do all I can to find you beef that meets your needs. We are bound to find you great tasting beef from a good source. We may even find an Artisan Beef rancher and butcher within your reach!
Are other questions to ask? Yes, in particular about the cattle's breed, diet, and how the beef was aged by the butcher.But if enough of us follow Step #1 and Step #2 on a repeated basis, trust me, retailers will start knowing the answers, you will be eating better beef, and you will be helping the best beef ranchers stay in business and keep their families on the land.
ps Can you believe how good those steaks look? Photo is thanks to Jaden Hair of www.steamykitchen.com. And yes, those are some artisan quality steaks!