From Iceland — Eating Dairy Cows From Head To Tail

Eating Dairy Cows From Head To Tail

Published May 4, 2021

Alina Maurer
Photo by
Cow by Keith Weller/USDA/Wikimedia Commons

With approximately 1 kilogram of beef causing about 13.3 kg of CO2, it is clear as day that beef is not the most environmentally friendly thing to eat. Pálmi Geir Sigurgeirsson, the owner of the meat factory “Frá haus að hala”, which literally translates to “From Head to Tail”, took his chance and specialises in processing a variety of products from adult dairy cows. In a conversation with RÚV Pálmi Geir stated, “I found it difficult to get good Icelandic beef and that’s why I started this.”

The secret of making dairy cow meat tender

Most dairy cows end up being sold in the commodity market, whether raised in organic, grassfed or conventional systems. Their meat is then turned into ground beef, commonly consumed in your favourite, cheap fast food burger.

Located in Höfn, in the municipality of Hornafjörður in the southeast of Iceland, Pálmi Geir Sigurgeirsson has a secret about making the meat from dairy cows more tender.

”It is not true that meat from adult cows is more tough than from young bulls. It’s just a matter of how long the meat is allowed to hang. I do not sell anything that has been hanging for less than three weeks. Four to six weeks is best, then it has become very dry and tender.”

The owner of “Frá haus að hala” knows the origins of his dairy cows very well. He claims that he mainly buys them from the Flatey dairy farm, located in between Jökulsárlón and Höfn. “I know everything about the environment and conditions of these animals. I ran the restaurant there for a while and this is the consequence of that.”

Dairy Cows vs. Beef cattle

The advantage of dairy cows to beef cattle is that the animal is fully used in regards to their whole lifetime. Prior, the cows have been producing milk and their meat is then used to make the most out of the animal. “This solution must be more environmentally friendly than just pumping hay into a bull for two years and then slaughtering it”, says Pálmi Geir.

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