Monday, September 24, 2007

Beef: It's What's for Dinner

Deciding to eat locally and sustainably does not (for me) preclude meat. I am an omnivore and make no apologies about it.

Meat gets a bad rap in the organic food community because of the methods used in raising animals and bringing them to market. For example, to quickly fatten cows (and increase profitability), conventional commercial operations feed them corn and grains and give them growth hormones. Corn and grain-fed cows gain about 5 pounds a day versus the 1.5-2 pounds a day a grass-fed cow gains. Since cows don't naturally eat corn and grains and live in very tight quarters, they also need antibiotics, which get passed on to the consumer.

Since those cows are not eating grass (their natural diet), there are nutrients they aren't getting and therefore, nutrients they aren't producing. Grass-fed beef is higher in vitamin E and Omega-3 Fatty acids as well as beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acids. It is also lower in calories and fat than conventional grain or corn-fed beef.

The question is, where can I find locally raised and humanely produced meat products?

In a previous post, I mentioned that a natural foods store carried locally raised beef from Stuart Family Farm in Bridgewater, CT. I bought some to perform some cooking and palate experiments.

The price was high (a rib eye steak was about $20 a pound). You can get it significantly cheaper by going to the farm yourself, but even then, it's more expensive than supermarket beef. The high price is due to the additional land required to rotate grass fed beef and the quality of that land. Also, it takes seven months longer for a cow to come to weight naturally.

In the end, it comes down to taste. And as promised, I'm ready to share my results. We cooked the rib eye on the grill and the steak was fantastic! It was not gamey or strange tasting. There was less fat on the steak and it tasted less greasy. But it was tender and juicy. It was delicious. I would definitely do this again.

Now, where can I find chicken and pork?

1 comment:

Mary said...

Pork can be had at the Egg & I Pork farm in New Milford. Their website is no longer active (eggandiporkfarm.com)but I found their address and phone:
355 CHESTNUT LAND RD
New Milford CT
(860) 354-0820

They've been in business for over 25 years so I'd suspect that only the website is defunct, not the farm.

They may even sell chicken. :)