The reason I went to a vegetarian diet is because I stumbled into some reading on how factory farmed animals (which current estimates range between 80% and 90% of the US meat supply) were raised, fed, and slaughtered. And I'll spare you all the gruesome details, but to translated it into human terms, imagine having to live in a college dorm room with 15 unhealthy and digestionally compromised line backers while being force fed McDonald's injected with growth hormones and antibiotics all day every day. If you haven't seen the new Chipotle commercial, you can check out their take on this industry.
I am a firm believer that most people need animal proteins to thrive. But I understand the objection to allowing any living thing to be treated in such a horrible way, much less the living things that will be fueling your life and performance. But there is hope because there are still plenty of small family farms that understand and embrace the humane and ethical treatment of our food supply (and even a couple of large ones such as Polyface Farms). The good news is that most family farms are easily accessible through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or a farmer's market. About 2 years ago, the Hubby and I decided to change our primary meat source to Triple S Farms. Triple S is a family farm located in central Illinois, and they sell their meat all across central Illinois (including Collinsville, for all my Metro East peeps).
The best part of being involved in a CSA is that I can source exactly what conditions my meat endures. And having visited the farm a few weeks ago for Customer Appreciation Day, I can say that their animals look pretty darn content.
Case in point:
Chickens rooting for bugs and plants (their natural diet),
cows with access to pastures and natural grazing,
Triple S also raises heritage breed pigs, specifically the Large Black. Heritage breed can be traced back to the days before factory farming and human intervened breeding. They are able to be pastured and therefore are able to derive nutrients from their environment (a quality that most factory farmed pigs no longer possess). And best of all, these pigs taste better than pigs confined to feedlots. For more information on these wonderful breeds and opportunities to support the movement to bring these pigs back to the mainstream, check-out Cochann 555 or reference their pamphlet on heritage breed pigs.
I've often heard that livestock can be mean or unfriendly, but I'd like to say that I made a couple of friends on my trip to Triple S. I guess that proves that animals raised in happy, natural conditions have a better outlook on life.
I recognize that this lifestyle can be perceived as more expensive than heading to the local grocery store, but a few thoughts on that....
- It's all a matter of perspective. To paraphrase a quote I've heard recently, "Pay the Farmer now or pay your Doctor later." Eating this way will keep you healthier longer than food which is mass produced.
- Start small. Start by buying a couple of cuts of meat from a farmers market or local health food store. I think once you start to taste the difference, you'll find it hard to go back.
- Buy in bulk. Go in on a half of a cow or a pig and save tons of money. If you don't have a deep freezer, you can usually find a decent chest freezer for under $200.
- Be smart about your cuts of meat. Hey, I'd love to eat a top sirloin every night,but that's pricey. Get more cuts of dark meats and roasts. They tend to cost less per pound but in my opinion have a superior flavor profile.
- Make it a priority. If you're paying for iPhones, 200+ plus channels on TV, designer handbags, clothes, video games, etc, but telling yourself you don't have the budget for quality food, you're probably right.
- Quit wasting food. I am personally guilty of this and am making a conscious effort to stop. I shudder when I think about how many meals I've wasted because I got too lazy or too busy to worry about what is in the back of the fridge. Every week when you're writing your grocery list, go through your fridge and see what you can re-purpose into a soup, stew, or
Just curious, do you use a CSA? If so, what has this food source done for you personally? Also, give them a shout out in the comments below (remember to link so other people can connect!). And as always, please use the comments for questions or thoughts! I enjoy hearing from you!