Local Meat – it’s so important.

A repost from the Love made the Radish Grow blog. (with a few edits to make it more relevant to this blog)

What the real focus of that discussion should be…

By Abby

There has been a lot of hubbub here lately in several of the Real Food Media blogs I read about a slight scandalous moment for a producer/sponsor of theirs: US Wellness Meats. I haven’t taken any side on anything, but after reading several blog posts both for and against the purported issue at hand (lactic acid spray used in the processing of the meats) I think there is a more important issue at hand, one that we hope to really push home with our own real food challenge (in the works-keep watching for more details). That is, yes you should eat meat. Yes it should be grass fed or pastured, at least for the bulk of its life.

But even more important: you should buy locally and from a farmer you know and trust. I think that relationship is what gets left so, so, so often in these discussions. Yay US Wellness uses a lot of small farmers to provide their meats. Yay they’re grassfed. But, unless I can talk straight with that farmer and go visit, and it doesn’t take me more than an hour, hour and a half to get there, I am failing.

Real food should be in season. Real food should be something as local as possible to you as you can bear. I admit, we use things like coconut oil and chocolate in our household. If push came to shove, we could cut them out. But they aren’t causing as much of the food related problems in this country as big ag is. US Wellness (or at least their supporters) push that they are not big ag. My beef producer breeds, raises, hauls and has witnessed the processing of my beef. My beef gets processed by mom and pop lockers where they depend on loyal customers and word of mouth to continue in their business. Oftentimes you run into a whole family working in one part or another when you walk in. I can ask any question about the processing of my animals and get straightforward answers.

Can you follow your beef from birth to your table in person? What is the name of the farmer who raised your beef (or any meat for that matter)? Where are they located? What breed of beef are you eating? What happened to all the parts you didn’t care to purchase from that animal? What is the name of the locker/plant it was processed at? Did you pick it up, or the farmer, or did a third party get involved?

Real food should focus on locality as much as it focuses on tradition. Tradition was based on what was local and in season.


4 responses to “Local Meat – it’s so important.

  1. We used to buy our beef from sheeder farms – but lately we’ve been eating mostly pork who we purchase from Ethan Book of Stoneyfield Farm

  2. You are totally right!! By knowing your farmer, you KNOW where your food has been, how it has been handled its entire life, & EXACTLY how it is processed.

    I am proud to raise beef for our family & yours (literally). If anyone is interested in learning more about how we raise our beef, or how to purchase, check out EbersoleBeef.com

  3. Hi! My name is Sara. I am an dietitian, originally from DSM, moved to IAcity when I got married in July and now moving back to DSM. I have been spoiled over here with an awesome Coop (New Pioneer) to shop at and a local grass fed farm to buy beef from. Now that we are heading back to DSM I am not sure what my resources will be….for myself and for me to recommend to my clients. Can you help me with some resources on where to buy local produce such as beef? For veggies….I know there is CSA servicing Ames and DSM, any other thoughts?
    Thanks for your help!
    Sara Schwertfeger, RD, LD
    Sara B Consulting, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach

    Sports Nutrition – Who Delivers? View this video: http://www.scandpg.org/sportsrd.php

    • Sara,
      You might want to check out the resources section of Natural Living Des Moines (naturallivingdesmoines.com), the parent site of this blog. There’s many, many listings for farmers and CSAs of all sorts. I have personal experience with Blue Gate Farm (but you’ll have a hard time getting a share there) and One Step at at Time gardens. I also know the gal who runs Little Red Hen CSA, it’s an urban CSA – she lives in town and grows her CSA food in her yard.

      Another good resource is Simply Food, Nothing Extra, which was mentioned in an earlier post on this blog. it’s a Yahoo group that’s in its early stages, but is a good resource for connecting pre-screened local producers with local consumers. There’s no formal screening process, but the producers listed there are ones that are personally known to current SFNE members to produce food to our fairly high standards.

      My favorite beef producer is Ebersole Cattle Co. Shanen is the main rancher and is a personal friend of mine. Their beef is so tasty, grass-raised. Plus, she pours her heart into her herd. What really sold me on their meat was when Shanen was describing to me one day how she processes her cattle – she bribes them into the truck with corn (which is like candy to them) and makes sure that the locker will process them immediately – no waiting around. She wants to keep their stress level down to a minimum, and hanging out around the slaughterhouse definitely makes them stressed. If she gets to the locker and it turns out there will be a wait, she takes them back home and makes an appointment for another day.

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