Monday, August 11, 2008

Meeting my meat

For most of my 20s I avoided ranched meat. This made me essentially a vegaquarian (hah! I love that word! I learned it from my friend Debbie) because very few people in the Bay Area hunt.

When Dan was on chemo, however, I wanted him to eat richer, so I cooked store-bought meat. And ate store-bought meat. Sorry, veggie-heads! I only stand with you until I get too lazy... and I will not cook separate meals for us! People asked how I felt, and did my body have to make adjustments. Nope.

And I've been eating meat since. Since I've moved to Alaska, the combination of the harsh weather and my physically active lifestyle have made it difficult for me to get enough calories and nutrients without meat.

I used to be one of those people who said that I'd never really cared for the taste of meat, so it wasn't so difficult to give it up. But now... well, I would have a hard time giving it up. I actually crave meet, especially when the weather is cold. I have also found, somewhat surprisingly, that I have a real knack for preparing it. It seems that every chunk of animal flesh I cook just turns into savory juices. I didn't learn this growing up; my family generally cooked and ate Asian-style, which meant that the meat was finely sliced or ground, nothing like the chunks of meat I buy and prepare nowadays. But I bring home packages of meat chunks and body parts, cook them up, and wow. Damn, I'm a meat-eater now! Whoda thunk?

I still try to be responsible with my meat consumption. Alaskan game hunting is mostly responsibly managed, so I'm hoping to gradually move away from the store-bought meat and toward the moose and the caribou. In the meantime, I try to stick to meat from ranches that have good reputations for their animal husbandry and care practices. Even Freddies offers such options. We've been eating quite a bit of Durham Ranch Buffalo lately. Yeah, I know, it's shipped all the way from Wyoming, so it's not very tree-hugger friendly. But it is from a free-roaming herd. Have you herd? Heh. Um... okay I brought this up because I have this theory (please correct me if I am wrong) that it is probably generally healthier to eat unconventional animals because they generally come from smaller ranches that tout their novelty. I bet most of them offer tours and probably have a petting zoo with fuzzy behbehs in the Spring. That being the case, I'm thinking they are probably less inclined to keep their animals in cruel or unsanitary conditions. Am I being naive?

And by the way, buffalo is delicious!


KC said...

There are a lot factors that go into the health (of lack there of) of an animal, and whether that even influences the subsequent value of the meat. It's hard to boil it down to a single thing that'll influence the quality of the meat. It's worth while to point out that a lot of people pushing these products are heavy on claims, but long on evidence. Things like `growth hormones` are laughable, biologically, as studies have shown they don't work in humans even slightly. As a fellow at U-Utah who specialized in Nutrition said, `I do it for the animals. Not because it's proven better.`

The family on both sides are (or were) farmers. So, I've been around a few. Small scale doesn't necessarily lead to better conditions. But you have better odds at getting better conditions with smaller operators than you down with larger operators. So, if you're looking to buy meat with ethical considerations in mind, and with the hope that it's sustainable, going for those brands is a better idea.

Anonymous said...

Bison is the bestest form of cow. Yum yum yum.

Suggestion: Get a really big slow cooker and some slow cooker liners. Get big hunk of meat. Rub meat with some flour, salt, and pepper. Sear outside of meat in a big skillet on all sides so that floury coating is nice and brown. Put potatoes in slow cooker. Put carrots in slow cooker. Put meat in slow cooker. Add some water. Cook. Eat like kings for days and days. :)

[Minimal dishes.]

This works especially well with the tougher and often tastier cuts of meat. Just let them cook for 10+ hours and you will be very very happy.

Arvay said...

That sounds delicious! Thanks!