We have started offering Akaushi Beef at Farm to Fork in Leander Texas and we have customers asking us what exactly that means. It is great quality meat and we are glad to have it on our menu, and our burgers are some of the best, if not "THE BEST" in Leander. I am posting this information from a couple of websites to save some time for our customers who are interested in the origins and story of Akaushi Beef.
What is Akaushi ? (赤牛?, roughly meaning "red cow") is a Japanese Wagyū breed of cattle. The beef produced by Akaushi cattle is richly marbled with fat and produces a very tender, flavorful, and expensive variety of steak which is sold to high end restaurants. A commonly heard term is Kobe Beef. These steaks can only be labeled "Kobe" if the animal was raised in a specific region of Japan.
Beef originally carrying the title of "Kobe beef" were simply cattle from herds in the Kobe area of Japan, and could be any of four breeds of Wagyu cattle: the Akaushi (Japanese Red), the Kuroushi (Japanese Black), the Japanese Polled and the Japanese Shorthorn.
Currently, the largest purebred group of Wagyū outside Japan is a herd of Akaushi cattle located in Harwood, Texas, owned by HeartBrand Beef. It was raised from a Japanese imported herd of 11 which was guarded by off-duty Texas Rangers to protect from interbreeding for over 12 years until the herd grew to over 5,000 cattle. The meat contains high concentrations of oleic acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid. Akaushi beef has a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats.
Akaushi cattle were never supposed to leave Japan, but thanks to a loophole in a 1992 U.S.-Japanese trade agreement, an American exporter named Al Woods purchased eight Akaushi cows and three bulls in 1994 and flew them to New York on a specially outfitted 747 jet. (The loophole was quickly closed, and no more Akaushi left Japan.) When the nucleus of the Akaushi herd was brought to the United States. The same closed herd and multi-trait selection process used in Japan, is now used in the United States by the American Akaushi Association members. Coupled with the recorded parentage of the U.S.-born calves, the lineage of the American Akaushi can be traced back over 30 generations to the origin of the breed. American Akaushi cattle are 100 percent pure and are direct descendants of the Mount Aso Region's revered Akaushi herds.
Soon after importing the animals, Woods sold them to a genetic scientist, Antonio Calles, and a group of investors, who moved them to Texas to study the beef’s health benefits. Calles initiated an ambitious breeding program, using surrogate cows to accelerate the process without compromising the cattle’s DNA. In 2006 he sold the herd, which by that point numbered around one thousand, to Ronald Beeman, a rancher who was also in the meatpacking business. Today, his family’s company, HeartBrand, owns about four thousand head of full-blood Akaushi and thousands more that are 50 percent Akaushi.