Crystal River Meats to provide beef for U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony

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About a month ago, the government seized five tons of Colorado-grown plant life, and on December 4, members of Congress plan to light it up. No, not that kind of plant life. It's the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and although they won't have the munchies, those in attendance will certainly be well fed as Colorado's own Crystal River Meats will be thre to serve up 100 pounds of its premium grass-fed beef.

See also: - Ben Nighthorse Campbell plays Santa with U.S. Capitol Christmas tree - 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree Campaign kicks off tonight - Whole Foods partnering with local ranchers to serve organic meat in stores, schools

Crystal River Meats is a Carbondale-based company that has been selling all-natural, premium grass-fed beef products since 1999. Its cattle are antibiotic-free, hormone-free, USDA-certified and raised only in open pastures. In fact, the animals that will be dinner at the ceremony grazed in the White River National Forest where this year's 73-foot Englemann Spruce Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested.

Specific details of the meal remain under wraps, but the we do know that the cut will be New York strip steak. White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams says he thinks "they're going to make some fajitas," but "the caterer is kind of holding it close to his belt as far as the actual dish that's going to be served." (In addition to the steak, Rio Blanco Woolgrowers will be providing grass-fed lamb from the Theos Swallow Fork Ranch near Meeker.)

Crystal River Meats has certainly been in the holiday spirit. Last summer, the company announced that it would provide children in the RE-1 school district with 17,000 pounds of discounted ground beef for school lunches throughout the year.

And before you get all "scroogey" about your hard-earned money propelling the celebration of a giant tree, realize that funding raised for the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is taxpayer-dollar exempt. Fitzwilliams says support for the Christmas Tree this year has been excellent, but of all the aid it has garnered "one of the great donations we've received was the gift of food from right here in Colorado."

Many donations came from Colorado school children too. For the past year students from around the state have been working to create over 5,000 ornaments that will be hung on the Christmas Tree and in federal buildings scattered around the Capitol. Those students were then entered into a drawing with the winner being granted a trip to Washington, D.C., to flip the Christmas Tree light switch with current House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, on December 4.

The inaugural U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree celebration occurred in 1964. This is now the third time the massive plant has come from Colorado. The first was an Engelmann Spruce cut in 1990 from the Routt National Forest, with the second being a Colorado Blue Spruce harvested in 2000 from the Pike National Forest.

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