EUGENE, Ore. -- What does a pint of Ninkasi beer have to do with cows?
They're two of the ingredients in Oregon Natural Meats, a new Eugene-based company hoping peddling it's natural beef to locavores in the community.
"It's a pretty simple concept that ties in all the elements of sustainability, of local, of natural, of high quality meat," explained Stephen Neel, the company's CEO. Neel has a PhD.
Oregon-raised cows are brought to a Eugene facility, where they feast on a Ninkasi Brewery byproduct: malted barley.
Brewers extract the sugar from the malt to make beer, but the grain is still full of fiber, protein and carbs. The product normally goes to waste, but instead it's upcycled for cattle feed.
The malt is part of a diet that includes roughage and other grains, said Neel.
"The upcycling gives that little boost of energy, that little extra," he said. "I wish it tasted like beer but it doesn't."
The meat is also processed at a facility in Eugene.
It's a good fit for Eugene, where the local food movement has steadily been gaining momentum.
"The customers love that idea," said Mike Wooley, owner of Long's Meat Market. "A lot of times they see the ranchers come in and deal with me at the counter here and I always introduce them."
Long's has carried Oregon Natural Meats for the past eight weeks, said Wooley.
For a list of restaurants that carry Oregon Natural Meats, click here.