With holiday meals on everyone’s mind right now, I wanted to share some information with you about your main course. It may be difficult for some of you, I know that many readers of this blog are vegetarians or vegans and I applaud you for your choice. If on the other hand, you are like me, brought up on steaks and pork chops, I have an idea for you. Not only is it more humane, but it is a sustainable and healthy option. While I have not eliminated animal products from my diet, I have reduced them greatly. When I do choose to eat an animal product, I try to be very careful about where it comes from. That is why when I have the choice, I choose organic grass-fed, free range, and pasture raised food products.
I am not asking you to give up your steak, fried chicken or milk, only to consider another option. The choice of eating free range or pasture raised eggs, milk and meat is not new to me. Growing up in the Midwest on a small family farm, we always had fresh produce, eggs, milk and meat. My family raised chickens, beef cattle, hogs and we always had a milk cow or two. Our animals were free range and grass-fed or pasture raised before those terms became new catch phrases.
Our cattle had large pastures with green grass, trees and a pond. The chickens ran free during the day and returned to their coop at night. The hogs had a large open fenced pasture with covered shelters and a good old-fashioned mud hole that they could waller in! When it was time for the animals to be sent to slaughter, it was not a time of celebration. It was a somber process (for me and my Mom especially) and a sad day to see the animals go. There was no back slapping each other for a good kill or whooping and hollering for bagging an animal. It was a very necessary process that kept our farm afloat and literally, food on our table. When we said grace at our meals, it was because we knew where our food came from.
In a nutshell our small family farm was the idyllic farm. You often see them depicted on TV commercials and on milk cartons in the store. The animals we cared for were treated in a humane manner and with respect. They provided us with food, we provided them with a good life until the end. Unfortunately small family farms are rare these days. Most (not all) are huge factory farms and the animals are confined in less than ideal or inhumane conditions.
Times are changing though. Organic and sustainable farming is the fastest growing segment of the food production market. This has enabled organic, sustainable farmers to actually make a living doing what they love. In turn their actions benefit all of us – including the animals. The more organic and sustainable products we buy, the more the farmers will produce. The animals, the earth and we humans are all healthier and happier for it.
The following excerpt is the concluding paragraph in an article by Michael Pollan. I urge you to check out the links I have provided to read more in-depth information on this subject.
â€œA considerably different picture comes to mind while chewing (and, O.K., chewing) a grass-fed steak: a picture of a cow outside in a pasture eating the grass that has eaten the sunlight. Meat-eating may have become an act riddled with moral and ethical ambiguities, but eating a steak at the end of a short, primordial food chain comprising nothing more than ruminants and grass and light is something I’m happy to do and defend. We are what we eat, it is often said, but of course that’s only part of the story. We are what what we eat eats too.â€
By Michael Pollan
The New York Times magazine – March 31, 2002
I hope you will consider a grass-fed option this year. If you are unfamiliar or unsure where to find these products, please check out the links below.
Will your meal include any organic, free range or grass-fed products this year?
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