How we eat cheap meat that’s ethically produced

I’ve been very impacted by Philip Lymbery’s book Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat and reading it cemented and refined my desire to be careful about what our family consumes when it comes to animal products. On a limited budget though, eating only pasture fed, chemical free and sustainable produce can be difficult – for all types of food, meat, dairy or otherwise. It’s a challenge though that I relish in and finding produce we can afford that fits our mindset is one of the things I like about being a stay-at-home-mum and having more time on my hands to find the bargains. Most of the time when it comes to meat I’ll shop at the gourmet supermarkets and only buy something when it’s marked down due to soon reaching it’s use by date. Often I’ll be able to pick up incredible (mostly organic) products at 1/3 or 1/4 of the price – into the freezer they go! We hardly ever eat steak though and mostly feed on “secondary cuts” or mince largely supplemented by beans, legumes and vegetables. Belted Galloway Beef BoxFor a long time I’ve been on Feather and Bone‘s mailing list, waiting for the time when available finances, freezer space and suitable product collide. A fortnight ago they did and today, on return from our Thank God it’s Friday Adventure, a courier was waiting to deliver our Ashrose Belted Galloway Beef Box. Dry aged for 4 weeks, pasture fed and chemical free, this sustainably raised beef would usually be way out of our budget. The beauty of shopping around though has meant that we can afford 10KG of this meat and feed off it for the next 3 months. What Mr Incredible is excited about is that we get steak!! The box was filled with both “prime” and “secondary” cuts that will make both of us happy, along with knowing where our meat has come from and how it’s been produced. In the future we’d like to buy direct from a farmer for all our meat, and buy more of the whole animal, but until we can afford a deep freezer 10kg is our maximum purchase. Making intentional choices about what we consume can be hard to follow through with. When we manage to fulfil those intentions with actual buying decisions however, and can see consistent success with living a certain way, the satisfaction can be immense. That’s how it is with me at least, and I look forward to brining our steak to BBQs in the near future – just in time for summer! Why we buy pasture / grass fed animal products:

  1. It’s better for you. For both milk and meat, the research indicates that grass fed animals have a higher concentration of Omega 3 content and in meat, lower levels of saturated fats than grain fed cattle. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/7905466  http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15023647 http://www.pariscreekbeef.com.au/did_you_know02.php
  2. It’s better for the animal. There’s a lot of research on this one (and it’s also covered convincingly in Farmageddon) but it doesn’t take a lot of research to tell you what’s obvious to anyone observing the animals.
  3. It’s better for the environment. As Feather and Bone write: “For these producers, whose holy grail is the achievement of a perfectly balanced, harmonious orchestra of soil, plants and animals in the patch over which they have custodianship, the name of their farm is shorthand for their entire approach to life. Because farming for the long term, without the habitual use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other artificial inputs, requires a level of acute observation, responsiveness and agility that many farmers either aren’t prepared to give or feel would compromise their short term productivity too seriously to be viable.” To read something directly from a farmer go to : http://www.blackwoodvalleybeef.com.au/index.php/our-philosophy
  4. It tastes better.

Research each of these points yourself though – there’s a lot of information on the www and differing views. At the end of the day we all need to make our own choices.