"Meat is not meant to be eaten several times a day, every day. It is meant to be a hard-won prize."
Sorry to get so off track. Life has been super busy but I really wanted to keep writing this series A Clean Cook. As a reminder I have talked about what is a clean cook, about keeping one’s space clean, eating clean (healthy) food and having clean flavors. In this post I want to write about clean meat. This is subject I have thought about or should I say I thought I had thought about it, that is until a good friend turned me onto an interview of Berlin Reed who wrote The Ethical Butcher, how to eat meat in a responsible and sustainable way. Mr. Reed stopped eating meat when he was 12, was a former militant vegan punk (his words) in his youth and eventually became a vegan butcher, who then learned to love meat. This interview totally fascinated me because Mr. Reed realized that by just bowing out of the system, so to speak, did not absolve him from what was happening to animals and the world. He decided he needed to be part of the system, so he could help fix it. He realized his problem was not with eating meat but the corporate meat industry. I should say he is not telling people how to eat or not to be vegan. He is telling people they need to look at the corporate food industry and look at how we can change it, because honestly we are the only ones who can change it.
I have not read his book yet but plan to. I am sure I will not agree with everything he says but there is one thing that sticks out, one thing that has me changing what we eat and that is
- What is the meat my family is eating?
- Also, where does that meat come from?
- How was this animal treated?
- How healthy to my body is this animal I am consuming?
- Am I respecting that this is a whole animal with fur, bones and offal’s?
I use to think of chickens as chicken breasts and cows as steaks BUT they are so much more. They are more than plastic wrapped piece from a store. It is like a loaf of bread. Most people think of it as a piece of buttered toast but when they make it from scratch, grind the wheat and even try growing wheat, they realize it is so much more the just a piece of bread. You respect that loaf of bread when you had to kneaded it, waited for it rise, looked for the best flour you can get and so forth. You sort of honor that loaf of bread. Plus you own it. Some big company did not make it, you did!
The other thing Mr. Reed talks about is the idea of eating less but humanely raised meat. We eat too much meat. He thinks meat should not be cheap because it takes a lot of work to care for, raise and butcher. Again back to that just stuffing ourselves with meat without thought of how it came to us. Now I have a meat loving hubby but he is also a hunter, therefore a butcher, so he hears what I am saying. We are trying to cut back on our meat but eat better. It is slow because my family is pretty addict to the stuff. I am trying to get them to think of meat as treat, not daily staple. We buy a half a grass feed cow. I only buy wild caught fish. I am not at a point of affording pastured chickens. We should have our own meat chickens to butcher, some day!
I should share that 3 years ago Chloe started to have ovary cysts, which would cause her so much pain we were taking her to the ER. The only thing the doctors offered was birth control. Well that was a last option for me, not a first. So we put her on an herb regiment, up her exercise (which is easy to do because now she teaches belly dancing) and cut out all foods that would have hormones in them. So raw milk, raw milk cheese, organic/wild/grass feed meats, no soy and so forth. I am happy to say Chloe has not had an incident for 1 ½ years. So we were already heading down this road but I am seeing more and more how I vote with my dollar. How what I buy and where I buy affects the system. Like Mr. Reed, I agree with his quote.
“In my opinion, the single most critical element in the perpetuation of factory farming is corporate greed. We must focus on the whole picture: our entire food system. This includes the USDA, the FDA, and in this conversation, the entire agricultural system- livestock, corn, soy, wheat, monocrops, GMO’s, the whole nine. The outdated obsession with meat as the crux of the problem is unnecessarily narrow-minded and closes us off to the advantage of seeing the complex web we are struggling to free ourselves from.”
So as A Clean Cook, I need to look at the meat my family eats and make some choices, as well as some scarifies. I need be open to cuts of meat I might not have been open to before, I need to be wise with where I spend my money and not support factory farming. I also need to be more mindful of this animal I am consuming. We are embracing less but better meat!
Please enjoy the rest of the series