This quick and tasty 30-Minute Thai Beef with Basil is my first recipe introducing carbon farmed beef. What is carbon farming? The TL;DR version: it’s a style of farming that removes carbon dioxide from the air through agriculture.
How it works involves a quick science lesson: all agricultural production involves the process of plant photosynthesis, which uses sunshine to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air with water and minerals from the soil to produce plant material, both above and below ground. However, common agricultural practices, including driving a tractor, tilling the soil, over-grazing, using fossil fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, result in significant carbon dioxide release. As much as one-third of the surplus CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in climate change today originates from land management practices that cause loss of carbon, as CO2, from our working lands.
This sounds dire, but there’s a solution. Carbon can be stored long-term (for centuries or longer) in soils in a process called “soil carbon sequestration.” Carbon farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter. Carbon farming is successful when carbon gains resulting from enhanced land management and/or conservation practices exceed carbon losses. I love this light-hearted interpretive illustration about the process below!
The meat for this 30-Minute Thai Beef with Basil is sourced from a local farm that not only raises its livestock in a clean and humane way, but is also on the cutting edge of carbon farming practices that leave the land in better shape than they found it. The 700-acre Stemple Creek Ranch in West Marin, along with the Carbon Cycle Institute, is working to create and implement a “carbon cycle protocol.” The protocol refers to grazing patterns and composting cycles to encourage perennial grass growth that capture carbon at a greater rate than it’s released by farm operations.
I’m lucky that this innovative beef is available just a half-hour walk from my apartment. I visited the Ferry Building farmer’s market in San Francisco to score a pound of this carbon-farmed beef from Stemple Creek Ranch yesterday morning, and created this quick little riff on the classic Thai beef with basil to showcase it! Enjoy.
Extra basil, toasted sesame seeds, chili flakes, cauliflower rice, and edible flowers, for serving (optional)
Combine the carrot, peppers, green onions, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, and one teaspoon of the coconut aminos in a medium bowl. Toss well and set aside.
Heat a large wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil and once hot, add the ground beef. Brown all over, breaking it up as it cooks, about 5 minutes. If necessary, drain off the grease from the meat before seasoning.
Add the ginger juice, chili garlic paste, salt, black pepper, and 1 cup of fresh basil. Cook, stirring frequently until the basil is wilted (about 3-5 minutes).
Divide the beef evenly among serving bowls over caulirice (optional), top with equal amounts of the carrot and pepper mixture. Garnish with fresh basil, toasted sesame seeds, and chili flakes, if desired.