Grass-fed Beef (and some pork and lamb)
Like so many people, I am concerned about the state of food in this country. I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve seen Food, Inc. I know that “factory farms are mean and nasty” as one bumper sticker I saw proclaims. Knowing is the easy part though. Doing something about it is the hard part. I’ve been taking baby steps – avoiding a lot (but not all) processed food, growing my own vegetables and shopping farmers’ markets. Incorporating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains into my diet and my family’s diet has been a little bit of a challenge but nowhere near as challenging as changing our habits with meat.
My husband is a card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool, old school carnivore from way back. He questions dinners that don’t feature meat prominently. A little prosciutto in a pasta dish? Where’s the meat? Try to pass off the eggs in a frittata as enough protein? Where’s the meat? And, as easy as it is to point a finger at his meat-o-phile tendencies, I have my own issues. While I am perfectly content with the occasional meatless meal, or meat used sparingly to flavor a dish, I have to admit that I just don’t have very many meatless dishes in my repetoire and when it comes to meal planning, my ingrained habit is to open the freezer door and peruse the meat selection. Meat is the focus of most every dinner I make.
There was no way we were going to become vegetarians, but my husband finally became more sympathetic to my concerns when he read an article in the food section of the Boston Globe discussing grass-fed beef and how much better it tastes. So, humanely raised grass-fed beef would be a win-win situation for us. We agreed that paying more for better meat would be a worthwhile investment and maybe we could eat less of it. Well, I at least said I’d eat less of it. I’m still working on him.
Enter my most excellent friend JBo, aka KillerCoconut. JBo is more of a courage of her convictions type than I am, and she was for a very long time not eating any beef if she couldn’t find any that was humanely raised. We had both done research online looking for local sources of grass-fed beef and she finally took the plunge and ordered a sampler package for her husband’s birthday from 8 O’Clock Ranch in Upstate New York. She was pleased with her purchase and said that the meat she had tried so far was excellent, so I placed an order too. And this is what arrived yesterday:
That’s 20 pounds of frozen grass-fed beef along with a pound of lamb kebab meat and some pork chops. Let’s take a closer look!
Sandwich steak and Porterhouse – uptown and downtown together at last! I am assuming that block of sandwich steak will thaw out to be beef that has already been sliced into very thin pieces. We shall see.
Here we have Top Round, Rib Eye, a little tiny New York Strip and the tip of a Sirloin Tip. One thing I hadn’t thought through when ordering a “sampler” package – there is just one of everything, except for the ground beef. I am going to have to get creative when serving these pieces to the whole family. Slicing thinly against the grain shall be my modus operandi!
There’s the rest of that Sirloin Tip, along with your childhood favorite (but not mine) Cube Steak! It’s cool though. The Pioneer Woman has shown me the way with cube steak.
Bone-in Pork Chops and Lamb Kebab meat – look at that lamb, by the way. Look how dark and rich the color is and how little fat there is. I usually buy a small leg of lamb or shoulder for kebabs and then I end up throwing half of it away because it is fat. This looks ready to go. I am intrigued.
Speaking of color and lack of fat, look at this Sirloin! It’s beautiful and I am going to have to be very, very careful with that not to overcook it. And, rounding out the steak selection we have a T-Bone and Chuck, which sounds like the name of a comic strip or a blues duo. There’s also 10 pounds of ground beef, so I am envisoning many burgers.
So, there it is. I’m not showing off my purchase to guilt you into anything or to impress you, but just to show you something that is available. I know just one family making a change like this won’t fix what’s wrong with big food in this country, but at least I feel like maybe I am doing something a little more right.
Of course, taste is important so I’ll be cooking with care and tasting critcally. We tried one cut of beef already tonight and I will be reporting back soon.
Please let me know in the comments if you’ve tried grass-fed meats or other locally or humanely raised products. Do you have any sources you’d like to share?