Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bringing Home the Pot Roast

Vegetarians might wanna give tonight a pass. Just a suggestion. Come back tomorrow, I promise this will be all over with.

(Looks around) They gone? Good. Nothing bad meant to my wandering leaf-munching friends, but this gal is stuck in her omnivorous ways and I really don't see that changing anytime soon. I've tried the veggie path – and to me it will never be more than just a side dish. I'll grant you, this last year nearly scared me away from meat – red and white, scaled or furry, I nearly walked away shaking in my shoes. One recall after another filling my nightmares with e. coli and salmonella, horror stories of unbelievable cruelty in slaughterhouses that belong only in slasher movies, mystery meat of unknown providence being brought in under inspectors unsuspecting noses. Too many aseptic packages of graying meat plumped with “flavor enhancing” injections, too many bundles of meat from who knows where.

The Prime Geek and I sat down one morning a few months ago and agreed it was time for some serious changes. A few weeks of searching (unnecessary in the end, my mom found our supplier. Ah well, at least we did the footwork for the future.) and we found ourselves waiting for a phone call to change our eating habits for the next year. Five weeks of slowly eating our way through mystery packages tucked into the standing freezer since our move in over a year ago, meals of “I'll tell you when it thaws!”, and wondering why in the world we had so many packages of frozen zucchini.*

A phone call at last, some shuffling of coolers, and we were off. A visit to my folks, a mildly strained back, and some seriously tasty cookies fresh from Amish country and we're back.

170 pounds of beef. If it sounds like a lot... and it is. 70 pounds of ground beef and the rest in roasts, chops, steaks, and stew meat – all the red meat we'll eat this year. Alright, maybe not all... we do entertain quite a bit (although you'd be shocked how far I can stretch a stew). But a good chuck tucked away for the winter. At 2.09 a pound (a bit more for hamburger than I usually pay, but a heck of a lot cheaper for ribeye steaks) it was a deal I couldn't pass over – good thing too. The corn crunch and fuel expenses have since made the butcher/farmer double their prices on meat. We squeaked by in the last two days of the old price.

Now. Is it organic? Nope. But I know the family that owns the farm (and the butcher shop) and according to the owner (who went to school with my brother, how much more local can you get? Gotta love a shop where if something is off you can call his mother to complain!) they can't afford to go through the whole “organic thing”. But he says with a shrug, “Its cheaper to let them eat grass while its growing, we only feed corn in the winter. Why give them shots they really don't need, its easier to treat if they get sick.” In other words, do the right thing, keep your head down, and you'll get some great quality product in the end. I feel pretty happy about supporting a family business, even better that its helping to keep a friend afloat, thrilled to know exactly where my meat came from, and even happier that I have that much more prepared for the upcoming winter.

I'll admit a certain... sadness? No, finality I suppose is a better term, for knowing I – me personally – helped to cause the life of a critter to end. My order tied up the last one needed on one specific cow, so as the phone hung up, J went out and brought the bull in for the final night. But... I've been to that farm, I know the boys who drop the hammer, I know the life that critter lead, and how after 10 years those farmboys still go quiet when its time to end it all. Quick and clean, a good comfortable life ended as well as can be expected.

I'll be doing this again, in fact I doubt I'll be buying meat from a grocery ever again. A good day all around, I think.

Plus... my mother just called. She tried her first hamburger today out of her order. To quote her -

“I didn't know THIS is what its supposed to taste like! What crap have I been shoveling in before this?”

Now she wants to start looking at this whole “green thing” a lot closer. With little steps the changes get made.

*I swear, I think the stuff breeds in there. That would explain the odd random sounds coming from my freezer at night........

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