From the bluefin tuna to the American buffalo, it seems like there’s a new menu item facing extinction every week. But according to The New York Times
, at least one prized animal has bounced back. The Randall Linebacks, the source of some of the country’s most prized rose veal, now number in the hundreds—after having dwindled to a population of just fifteen cattle two decades ago.
profiles Virginia farmer Joseph Henderson, who has revived a Randall Lineback herd at Chapel Hill Farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The cattle have a long American history; one of the two oldest breeds in the country, they were brought from Europe in the 1600s, and raised from a single stock at the Randall farm in Vermont for nearly a century. Six years ago, Henderson sought out the most endangered livestock in the country, taking fifteen animals and turning them into nearly two hundred.
With a healthy herd, Henderson now carefully selects the customers to serve his carefully raised cattle, putting the Randalls back on the market. He deals directly with Washington, D.C. and Virginia restaurants, all of whom purchase whole animals and butcher the livestock themselves.
The resulting rose veal is free-range and humane—since the Randall Linebacks, with finely grained meat, don’t need to be confined to yield the tender flavor so prized in veal. After four months drinking only their mothers’ milk, the animals spend an equal amount of time roaming the Virginia pastures, the activity that gives their flesh a rosy color.
While only six area restaurants serve the Randall Linebacks, Henderson is seeking to expand to farms near major cities—perhaps, one day, bringing the animals once nearing extinction to all parts of the nation.