ELDORADO – When Adam and Lori Brooks' daughter Audrey began having severe migraine headaches nearly every other day, medical tests revealed a surprise.
"We ended up taking her to Children's Hospital in St. Louis, where they figured out she was having a reaction to the nitrites and nitrates in meat," Adam Brooks said. "Basically, it was a response to processed foods."
Nitrites and nitrates are food preservatives often used to prolong the shelf life of meat products.
Adam and Laurie said they already had gotten involved in polled Hereford cattle because Audrey was showing them in 4-H. Plus, doctors recommended an all-natural diet free from processed foods.
"It just made sense to start raising our own all-natural beef cattle," Adam said. "They are grass-fed, with nothing added. There are no antibiotics, no hormones – nothing."
Audrey's health improved.
Meanwhile, neighbors and friends began stopping by their place on Ridgway Road southeast of Eldorado to inquire about whether they had any extra beef they would consider selling.
That's when Lori took the bull by the horns, so to speak.
"My grandparents, Paul and Betty Noelle, owned Tri-State Livestock, which a lot of people just called the stockyards, at Omaha," Lori said. "I realized that there was a demand for all-natural beef and we could meet that demand."
Now, Heartland Beef, 1340 Ridgway Road, offers all-natural steaks and ground beef along with all-natural pork produced by friends Mike Mangels and Ryan Harbison. Both Lori and Adam pointed out that consumers have a choice between strictly all-grass-fed and corn-finished beef. They use red Angus for their beef production.
On Friday, the Saline County Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed Heartland Beef to the business community with a ribbon-cutting attended by family, friends, Chamber members and well-wishers.
Lori Brooks said the beef is processed by Dewig Meats in Haubstaut, Ind. In fact, representatives from Dewig catered the grand opening/ribbon cutting offering samples of beef patties, pork burgers and sausage meatballs from the farm, along with some of Dewig's own beef brisket.
Lori said she and Adam, along with Audrey and their young son Hank, were very thankful for what she called a "tremendous response."
"It lots of help and support from family and help from a lot of friends to get to this point," she told Friday's gathering. "It feels very surreal to be here doing this, and we're very thankful for the community. They really supported us."
For more information, call Heartland Beef at (618) 499-3917 or visit Heartland Beef Farm on Facebook.