Tassajara Natural Meats


Monterey Peninsula College, Del Monte, and Carmel


Grass-fed, USDA-inspected beef; cuts include filet mignon, ground beef, top-cut steak, flatiron steak, hanger steak, thinly sliced carne asada, and other steaks. Special orders welcome. Lamb, goat and pork will be available soon.


Tassajara Natural Meats
Mark and Elizabeth Shelley
Carmel Valley, CA
831 659-1761

History and Philosophy

Tassajara Natural Meats (TNM) is a small family start up whose goal is to provide the community with very high quality, thoughtfully raised and processed meats.

The Shelleys decided to start TMN after butchering calves for their own consumption for ten years. “We had been interested in the idea of local, well raised animals for a long time and decided it was the right time to share this kind of meat with the community” said Mark.“Knowing the animal and where our meat comes from makes an important difference when it comes to food quality and safety, and to the health of the environment,” added Elizabeth. The Shelleys are helping to keep alive the tradition of family ranches on the Central Coast, and feel that the cattle raised here should stay here.

Mark and Elizabeth call their tender and flavorful meat “free-range veal.” The calves are raised naturally at Rancho Grande in Big Sur and Elkhorn Ranch in Moss Landing. “Raised naturally” meaning that they graze on chemical-free grasses and are never given antibiotics or other medications or hormones; they thrive on just rich mother’s milk and free-range grazing. Though not certified organic, TNM follows organic standards, including free grazing, gentle weaning and a protocol for humane slaughtering.

The calves are processed near Paso Robles at a USDA slaughterhouse that handles small numbers of animals. The meat is USDA inspected, dry-aged and cut to specification, then vacuum sealed and frozen for optimum freshness. “Processing meat on a small scale is not easy,” explains Mark. “Many factors conspire against making it happen which is why there is so little of it, and so much factory meat. Each step in a small scale operation is more costly, but the benefits to the land, the animals, and the folks who eat it, make it worthwhile.” 

TNM meats offer important health benefits of grassfed beef. It is high in nutrients and contains all 22 amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids. According to the American Grassfed Association (AGA), grass-fed animal products have been shown to be higher in beta carotene (vitamin A), CLA, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. Grassfed products are lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories. The AGA also says that the risk of infection by E. coli in these products is virtually eliminated.

In the future, TNM will offer lamb, pork and goat, but will do so only when they find local ranchers who consistently raise animals to their satisfaction.

In addition to running TNM on their own, Mark and Elizabeth lead very busy lives. Mark is a film maker and is starting a triple bottom line sardine business. Elizabeth is involved in a small coop, Carmel Valley Coop that she started with a friend, and volunteers for the Catalan Family Farm CSA. Elizabeth also makes soaps and lotions, and is very involved in building a healthy and sustainable local community.  

Related Features