After my last two posts, which were more philosophical than I usually tend to be (I’m more of a realist), I wanted to share the food choices we make. This is what works for us, after a few years of working on making our food more sustainable and seasonal. I’m going into a lot of detail, so I’m going to split it into different categories over a few different posts.
I’m starting with meat because I believe we can be ethical omnivores. I believe we can be animal lovers and still eat animals and animal products.
I’ve found a standing freezer to be our most valuable purchase when it comes to eating meat sustainably. Because we get meat seasonally, we get a whole lot at once and keep it frozen all year. It’s a great feeling to know that I have a ton of meat in the basement and don’t need to run out to the grocery store.
My husband’s family started raising pigs again a few years ago. Ed’s dad grew up butchering animals for local farms with his family, so he knows how to slaughter and process the meat. One pig provides all the pork, bacon, sausage and ham we’ll eat for a year.
My husband’s family also raises turkeys. We don’t eat a ton of turkey, so the couple that we have in the freezer will last the whole year for us. We cut it into parts before we freeze it, so I’ve got turkey breast, thighs and drumsticks, as well as parts for soup, in the freezer.
Finally, Ed’s family started raising chickens for the first time this year. We had our first chicken the other night, and it was great. One roasted chicken gave us two suppers and lunches for two days as well. We’ve got three more chickens in the freezer, so I’ll still have to get some antibiotic and hormone free chickens from the store.
We also get beef from Ed’s uncle in Maine. The beef is grass-fed, and a quarter of a cow lasts the whole year for us. It’s been interesting, because I’ve learned to cook all different cuts of beef, including roasts, london broil, and making stew. But, there’s also a ton of ground beef, so I wouldn’t recommend buying a whole or partial cow unless you make a lot with ground beef.
We’re also lucky to live very close to the ocean. Ed and his family love to go out on the water, and his brother owns a shellfishing business. So, our seafood is always caught by Ed and his brother. We enjoy blackfish, porgies and the occasional bluefish or striped bass (it’s suggested to eat no more than one serving every six months from Long Island Sound, and I skip them because I’m “of reproductive age”). We also get clams and oysters, but I’m not really a fan of either. Ed’s parents have a cottage on a little island in Maine, and we’re friends with some local lobster fishermen. So, whenever any of his family goes to Maine, they come home with fresh lobster, scallops and crab meat. Finally, we eat the occasional wild-caught Alaskan salmon or a can of tuna. We can’t eat locally all the time!
What choices do you make about meat?
Next Post in my “Real Food” series: Animal Products