Family farm to family table

Sakura Wagyu Farms, headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, produces beef cuts with luscious marbling reminiscent of the cherry blossoms (Sakura) adorning its logo. Loosely translated, wagyu simply means “cattle” in Japanese, but the Wagyu breed itself is widely considered a national treasure in its native country.

Raised in Japan, the Wagyu breed goes back centuries, with owners keeping pristine records. Originally put to work as plow animals on rice paddies, Wagyu bulls developed huge shoulder muscles and incredibly efficient energy storage. This muscling results in a somewhat unattractive silhouette, but the energy storage begets incredible marbling. 

Wagyu first appeared in the United States in the late 1970s, but Japan banned exports in the late 90s, so the window for purchasing and developing genetically true herds was limited. Lawrence Adams and his partners were introduced to the breed in the early days, logging decades of research and work, making them well-versed in raising these unique animals.

Adams, a Nebraska Wagyu producer, grew up in the central part of the state on a farm near Broken Bow, earned a degree in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and spent years raising feeder cattle when his three sons were young. This experience led to one of his first businesses, Innovative Cattle Solutions, which set out to raise quality cattle through good feeding and marketing. It was during this time that Adams was introduced to the Wagyu breed, sparking years of extensive research, ultimately leading him to his current position as a managing partner of Sakura.  

Sakura Wagyu Farms, started in 2017, prides itself on providing holistically raised products from genetics to the plate. The combination of top researchers, industry experts, and farmers well-versed in animal husbandry create a unique environment that values honesty and integrity.

The passionate, multi-generational family farmers in the Sakura network are committed to raising 100 percent Wagyu bulls crossed with Angus dams, resulting in docile, adaptable, healthy animals. Francis Pang, a geneticist with over 20 years of experience, directs the genetic tracing methods used to ensure purity of stock, and the cattle reside under roof in bedded barns, feeding on custom all-vegetarian rations formulated by Francis Fluharty, a former Ohio State University animal science professor and partner in the Sakura endeavor. Fluharty spent over 30 years researching dietary approaches that consider not only the result (incredible marbling and flavor) but also the health and well-being of the animals.

Calves receive customized vaccinations that keep them free of disease, preventing the need for antibiotics or hormones, and stay close to their mothers until nine months. The goal is to create a calm, Zen-like environment for the animal, as lower stress increases product quality. Cattle are fed longer than usual (minimum 400 days, finishing at about 1,400 pounds), so rations include generous amounts of roughage, ensuring the rumen (stomach) remains in excellent shape. 

Relationships are paramount to the team at Sakura, providing mutual benefit to the family farmers, communities, producers, shippers, and ultimately the fortunate consumers of this fine product. Farms are scattered through the Midwest and the meat is processed at high-end plants in Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Sakura also works with small meat lockers and boutique butchers, such as the Wyoming Meat Market near Cincinnati and The Bearded Butchers. 

Distribution is country-wide, recently extending to the Pacific Rim. Restaurants in the Omaha-Lincoln area serving Sakura Wagyu beef include Charred Burger Bar, serving 100% Wagyu beef in its specialty sliders and fine-dining destination Dolce, known for its chef-driven tasting menus highlighting the best in local ingredients.

Adams enjoys working with his sons daily and says the variety of his work keeps him going, “One day I’ll be out with cattlemen on a ranch, then to growing yards, packing plants, distributors, restaurants, and retail stores.” He and his partners are truly involved from the genetics to the plate.

Traditional, all-natural beef from Wagyu cattle, treated well, results in exquisite taste, tenderness, and nutritional value. High in Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, it’s more akin to fish than other types of beef, and, in moderation, is a satisfying part of a healthy diet.

 “Our best-selling cuts are ribs, strips, and tenders; everything is filling and so flavorful that a little goes a long way. Many of our customers find themselves sharing a steak,” shared Adams. His personal favorite cut is the ribeye, which he prepares with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, sears quickly in a hot cast iron pan, and tucks into the oven until it reaches his perfect temp of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Sakura is passionately committed to producing the best beef in the world — tender, umami-rich beef with a unique taste and texture. You can purchase and pick up Sakura beef locally from LA & Sons Wagyu Beef in Blair, or order online at www.SakuraWagyuFarms.com.

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