Cindy Tolle, owner of Evergreen Ranching and Livestock in Custer, raises Audubon-certified, free-roaming Criollo grass-fed cattle. Patients and caregivers at hospitals are an ideal fit for her products, she believes. “I’m pretty picky about who I give my meat to,” she said. “I can’t think of a better market than feeding healthy products to sick people and to those who support them.”
Evergreen has been supplying meat for Nourish Café at Rapid City Hospital for five years now, and the two entities recently expanded their partnership to offer Evergreen’s retail products for caregivers who want to do a little shopping before heading home.
The products were introduced in a small grocery store Nourish opened shortly after the pandemic began, offering caregivers a convenient way to pick up staple food items. While the grocery store has been phased out at Nourish, the cafe will continue to sell Evergreen’s products.
“The Evergreen products really took off for us,” said D. Scott Brinker, Executive Chef at Nourish. “I think sales will continue to pick up because beef prices in grocery stores have been escalating fast.” He hopes that those who have started buying local products during the pandemic will continue to do so, not only due to price but for quality and location convenience.
“The quality and nutritional value of Criollo beef is significantly better than most store-bought meat, so this is a great opportunity for people to shift their buying habits,” he said. Cindy and Chef Scott said grass-fed Criollo breed is very ecologically efficient, high in Omega-3 fatty acids and better for peoples’ digestive systems.
While price and quality are obviously important to consumers, another huge positive with Evergreen’s products is that they are local. “It’s important to know the story of your food,” said Chef Scott. “We know the story of these animals, all the way back to the grass they eat.”
Cindy and Chef Scott agreed that one good thing to come out of the pandemic is the resurgence of people cooking food at home again and eating with their family. “We’ve never had an opportunity like this in the last two generations to make a significant change in our eating habits, health habits, and social habits,” said Chef Scott. “The family unit is becoming a family unit again.”
Cindy opened Evergreen in 2015, and Rapid City Hospital was one of her first big customers. She’s currently doing business with organizations in Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota, among others. She’s hoping to get into the university market soon.
Thank you to all of our local partners throughout our communities who help us live healthier lives.