No surprise, my “Sexy Meat” post was the most popular in the ten days I’ve been blogging. It says a lot about my friends, that’s for sure!
In keeping with my “we ❤ our meat" theme, I want to talk a little bit about grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, and free range chickens.
I had been happily purchasing meat from the grocery store (steaks and pork on those Styrofoam trays, ground beef in shrink wrapped cylinders) like most of America. I shopped for bargains, I bemoaned the cost of bacon, and I grabbed boneless skinless chicken breasts every time they were on sale. Oh how foolish I was.
I looked for a way to detox my system, to rid it of all the wheat and other things that had been wreaking havoc with my digestive system and I came across the Whole 30 and Paleo Diet plans. Basically, both plans eliminate grains, legumes, sugar, processed foods, dairy, and encourage the consumption of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits as well as free range eggs, and pasture raised (grass fed) meats. You can read more about the Paleo diet here, or here or here.
In researching the Paleo diet, I read a LOT about the way our meat animals are raised in most commercial operations. The cows we eat may be pasture animals when they are young, but once they reach a minimum weight they are transferred to feedlots where they cannot roam around, and instead stand there being fed a diet high in grains. This diet causes stress to the animal’s liver, and producers have to administer antibiotics as a routine course of action to prevent illness. I remember seeing feedlot cattle when I drove across California’s Central Valley region, and I can tell you, those “happy cows come from California” commercials could NOT be filmed there. Wikipedia has an article about feedlots, or do your own research. It isn’t pretty.
The same kinds of practices are in place for pigs. In fact one of the cruelest practices in the food industry is the use of gestation crates for sows. Many big companies including McDonald’s and just today, MEGA GIANT wholesaler Sysco announced it is no longer going to purchase pork from pigs raised in gestation crates. This isn’t just a victory for the pigs, it’s a victory for us as well.
You can see where this is going. Industrializing doesn’t exactly work with animals. You take the animal out of it’s natural state, give it cheap, poor quality food it isn’t used to eating, put it under stress, and heavily dose it with mega antibiotics to keep it from falling deathly ill… how healthy do you think that animal is really? How healthy is the meat that comes from that animal? Why would you feed it to your family? The meat from stressed animals is high in Omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are indeed essential but an overabundance of them, especially in proportion to the preferred Omega 3s can have serious negative impact on our health.
Plus, it just skeeves me out to think of eating a sick animal. Really.
So I discovered the wonderful world of grass-fed and pasture raised meat and poultry. It didn’t take long before I realized what I had been missing. I had beef that tasted like BEEF. No seasoning needed except a little salt and pepper. How did I not realize that the meat I had been eating was all but tasteless? I had been compensating with seasonings, rubs, marinades, sauces, and the meat itself was nearly flavorless. The grass-fed beef was amazing. A steak tasted like STEAK. My husband made hamburger patties and added just a teeny bit of Old Bay to the burger mixture… I could have died and gone to heaven. Bacon, nitrite free and coming from pasture raised pork tasted like all that is good and right. I said goodbye to bacon that was mainly fat, very little meat, and mostly tasted like salt and fake smoke flavoring. Instead, breakfast became an almost religious experience….and it was GOOD for me. ALL HAIL THE BACON!
AND EGGS! Let us not forget the eggs. An egg from a free range, cage free chicken who is given high quality feed, and allowed to eat grass, and scratch for bugs, and eat what a chicken would eat in the wild is something to behold. The white is clear and thick, and the yolk is so dark yellow it is nearly orange. The taste is fresh, rich, not at all sulfuric, and anything you make with that egg is going to taste so much better. The next time you eat a pale yellow scrambled egg, rest assured that chicken did not have a happy chicken life.
I urge you to do the research yourself. Read articles like this one and this one. Then, either seek out a source for grass-fed, pasture raised meat and TRY it. One of the best local sources I have found is Eat Wild where you can find local sources in nearly every corner of the US. If it’s convenience you want, I can personally vouch for US Wellness Meats and Fossil Farms. I can guarantee you, your relationship with meat will NEVER be the same.
Feel free to drop me a comment letting me know where you get YOUR meat. I believe in sharing the tasty love!
By the way, I haven’t forgotten, tomorrow is Farmer’s Market Friday, and I’m going to celebrate by going to the Loveville Produce Auction. I’m not looking for pallets of food, but definitely in the mode to start looking for what I’m going to fill my freezer with. I’d like to have enough frozen produce this winter to stay away from the grocery stores. I admit that I’ve gotten spoiled, we’ve got incredible farmers here in Southern Maryland, and for that I am eternally grateful. I think I’ll base tomorrow’s articles and recipes on what I score at the auction. Only one guarantee: It won’t be cucumbers.