Well I did it. I made a New Year’s Resolution and – gasp – I actually kept it!
After watching the movie Death on a Factory Farm I decided that’s it. No more. I’ve been looking for a farm to buy pasture raised organic meat from for a while, but watching that movie sent my search into high-gear. Perhaps a bit too high. Next thing I knew I had 40 pounds of meat and a too-full freezer.
I emailed Big Bear Ranch in Horsefly and within a matter of days our cousin was driving out to some random intersection in Surrey to pick up our meat. My mother worried about the whole prospect of buying meat from some guy at the side of the highway, but as weird as that might sound – I feel a lot safer buying meat from him than I do from the grocery store.
We purchased two “family packs”, 20 pounds each of a mix of cuts including some *incredible* garlicy beef sausage, roasts, chops, steaks, ground beef and a few ham hocks. (They were out of bacon but should have some for our next order. I can’t wait. Tamworth pigs are bred especially for their bacon.) Just for fun the fiance also ordered a heart and a tongue. (Apparently I don’t know what I’m missing!) All in it cost just over 300 bucks, which included having it brought down from Horsefly. Clearly that’s more than what most of us are used to paying at Pricemart or Superstore. But I believe that the cost more accurately reflects the true price of meat. What we save at the checkout, the animals pay for in suffering and we pay for in crumby quality meat. This meat is flavourful, organic and best of all, guilt-free.
Big Bear Ranch is owned and run by Rainer and Gigi Krumsiek. A peek at their website quickly reveals some happy looking pigs and cows; nothing like the images from the factory farms. www.bigbearranch.com. The farm is certified organic and the animals are all pasture raised. Rainer was warm on the phone and it felt lovely to actually know the names of the people who tended the animals I’m eating. To be able to trace my meal back to their family, their fields. They say they welcome visitors, and maybe one day we’ll take a fishing trip up north and make a detour to Horsefly.
Clearly living life in the pasture is a better life for the animals; they’re able to enjoy fresh air, move about and root and forage the way they are naturally meant to do.
Cows in particular seem to me to be an animal that should never be forced to bear the torture of a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation). They are ruminants, meant to eat grass, but in a CAFO are forced to eat grains like corn that their guts were never designed to digest. This changes the acidity level in the stomachs, making the bugs in there more resistant to acid (like the stuff in our tummies) and therefore making that ecoli a lot more likely to make us sick. All this is aside from the fact that just like the pigs, they are subject to confinement and a life standing in their own shit.
The documentary “Food Inc.” noted that the companies behind these factory farms are trying to make it illegal to show pictures of these operations. So just to sum up what I think about that, here’s one:
Apparently it’s already illegal to disparage a food product. An industry that is prepared to take Oprah to court over saying she didn’t want to eat another hamburger after the mad cow outbreak . . . That’s some serious cahoonas. I’m not going to rant about free speech right now, but come on.
Enough griping. Back to my meat.
It is SO good. SO GOOD.
Our first meal made with our new non-factory farmed meat was some good old-fashioned burgers:
The fiance made them and hardly put anything in them; they tasted like beef. I mean really tasted like beef. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
The next morning we tried a product we’d never had before. (ok never *heard of* before). Smoked Kassler. It’s German and it’s fantastic. Think – a whole pork chop of Canadian Bacon that tastes like strip bacon. Just bacon-y heavenly goodness.
We fried it up in a pan and devoured it. Next time we’ll try a more traditional preparation; braised in cabbage or sauerkraut. Mmmmm.
The best part about eating grass-fed meat is that it’s not only better for the animals, it’s better for us. Most people know we shouldn’t eat as much meat as we do. But if you’re going to eat meat – this is the way to do it. I’ve read that grass-fed beef has comparable Omega 3 levels as wild salmon. Not bad.
And did I mention, it’s delicious?!