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Episode 1: The Story of a Steak

In 2011, I ate a steak called the MosCowBoy. Like the name suggests, it was at a steakhouse in Moscow, Russia. Costing $75, the beef was imported from Australia, making that steak a symbol of Russia’s major food security problem. The country imported nearly half of all its red meat, costing $4 billion a year. But a government program aimed to fix that problem by importing cattle and cowboys from America. That’s what I was doing there in the first place. Now I’m going back, five years later, to order that exact same steak. Has Russia’s cattle industry grown to the point it can supply its own meat? I’m on a quest to find out. Continue reading Episode 1: The Story of a Steak

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Ranching May Offer Soviet ‘Ghost Farms’ of Kazakhstan New Life

On the steppes of northern Kazakhstan, a collective farm town called Chilinka Sovkhoz crumbles, abandoned. The 250,000-acre farm was once home to over 60,000 livestock (mostly sheep, but also cattle and horses), and an embodiment of the USSR’s plan to feed the Soviet people with food grown on the Kazakh steppes. Today, Chilinka is one of many former collective farms that litter the countryside. Read more: … Continue reading Ranching May Offer Soviet ‘Ghost Farms’ of Kazakhstan New Life

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Tazy: Speedy Dog of the Steppes in a Race Against Extinction

“Faster!” Zhylkybai Aga said. The driver increased the truck’s speed to 25 m.p.h. Zhylkybai leaned out the window andwhooped at his dog, named Akbakai, who loped alongside the vehicle. The lanky dog was hardly exerting himself. My first impression of Tazy, a Kazakh dog breed, was that it looked like a bag of bones. But now, in motion, it had transformed into a thing of beauty. Through the … Continue reading Tazy: Speedy Dog of the Steppes in a Race Against Extinction

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The (Questionably) Honorable Kazakh Tradition of Livestock Theft

With 2,500 head of livestock, it can be hard to notice when a few go missing. Especially for Dauletgali Zhaitapov, whose business Kaz Horse Mugalzhar LTD operates on 75,000 acres of unfenced rangeland in northern Kazakhstan. During fall roundup, Zhaitapov realized his horse herd was 100 animals short. These weren’t just any horses; they were Mugalzhars, a Kazakh breed raised for meat and milk. The … Continue reading The (Questionably) Honorable Kazakh Tradition of Livestock Theft

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Kazakhstan: Where Horses are Revered and Eaten

The yurt smelled of horse. Not in a way I was familiar with–like the nutty odor of a wet saddle pad, which makes me pine for a mountain trail. This eau de equino was the smell of cooked horse meat. And it wafted from a platter being passed in my direction. This was my first encounter with Kazakhstan’s popular dish beshbarmak. It’s made of boiled … Continue reading Kazakhstan: Where Horses are Revered and Eaten