Hidden Gems: Meet Alexander Khan of Moon River Beef
Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Khan.
Hi Alexander, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today? We started Moon River Beef one year ago during the height of the pandemic. We ranch in Perkinsville, AZ, which is about 23 miles outside of Chino Valley, right on the Verde River. Before last year, we sold our calves in the traditional way, by taking them to the auction house each season. We would also feed a few just for our family.
During the pandemic, however, some interesting things began happening in terms of people’s relationship to their food. First, people began avoiding grocery stores and exploring other options. Second, they became more interested both in where their food came from and in creating a connection with the food they were consuming. We noticed that people wanted to understand how their food was grown, and to be a part of that, in some sense.
Many of our friends began asking about our beef and whether we sold it to the public. This was the beginning of our journey not only into selling beef, but also into reshaping how we viewed our role in agriculture. We put an incredible amount of time and energy into incorporating techniques that lead to high quality and healthy beef. Sourcing local, and all-natural feeds for our cows and steers is just as important to us as the traditional, holistic cattle handling techniques that we had been practicing for years. Moon River Beef is constantly searching for better ways to do things so that we can always provide the best beef possible.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road? Like any new venture, there have been some bumps along the road. Raising prime, all-natural beef is not easy, and this was particularly true during the pandemic. Supply chain issues and feed availability were major obstacles when we were starting. Early on, we made a commitment to only using high-quality feeds, and at the time they were difficult to get. But by creating relationships with suppliers and local growers, we have been able to find incredible feeds for our cattle that are healthy for them, and that lead to healthy beef.
Another major obstacle that we faced was the idea, which many people had, that eating beef was not healthy. While this might be true of the industrial beef you buy in a grocery store, it is not at all true of the local, sustainable beef we produce. Our beef is nutrient and mineral rich in addition to being delicious. Our process for raising beef reflects traditional practices that were used for centuries before cattle were placed in feedlots and fed mostly corn. We feed a mix of wild grasses and natural grains. This leads to healthier beef. Explaining this concept was difficult at first because of what people have been taught about grocery-store beef.
We’ve been impressed with Moon River Beef, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others? Moon River Beef is an all-natural beef company. We use holistic practices that incorporate the cattle into the natural environment, so that everything we do is completely sustainable. Our cattle are raised in the gentle banks and mountainsides of the Verde River Valley. All of our animals are on pastures that run along the Verde Rive river, giving them unparalleled access to natural grasses, plant life, and free-flowing water. Each year we select the best of our herd to create incredible beef for you and your family.
Unlike other beef businesses, we are responsible for each step of the process, which makes us truly local, and fully accountable. Additionally, we take the time to feed our steers slowly, and only with the best feeds so that the steak that is on your table is tender, marbled, and full of rich and nuanced flavor. We sell to farm-to-table restaurants and individuals throughout the state. Further, we custom cut each piece for each customer.
We also offer Golden Angus, which is a breed of cattle that we have developed throughout the years on our ranch. These cattle trace their origins back 150 years in the Verde Valley. And because of the area’s unique topography, they have developed characteristics that lead to incredibly tender and delicious beef. I can say with confidence it is better than any beef you have ever eaten.
Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out? Patience and transparency should be at the heart of your operation. Good things take time, and you should give them time to develop. You also should focus on informing your customers about everything you are doing. The more informed they are, the greater the connection they will have with your business. This has been central to our approach to raising beef.