Monday, March 10, 2014

Joining a Meat CSA

It seems like everyone these days is concerned about their meat consumption. From antibiotic resistance being linked to skyrocketing antibiotic use within the meat industry to the deplorable conditions for animals in factory farms and the effect of giant meat conglomerates on small farmers, there is not a lot to commend about the meat industry. So many people seem to be opting out entirely and forgoing meat consumption. But rather than opting out of the money stream that supports industrially produced meat, why not vote with your dollars and support locally produced meat grown by family farmers?

Late last summer, I heard about Peaceful Pastures Meat CSA (community supported agriculture) program. After Joe and I had completed our Whole30 and I had experienced the benefits of basing my diet around meat, vegetables, and healthy fats, that looked like something we would be interested in. Once a month, we receive 22-25 lbs of locally and humanely raised, pastured chicken, beef, pork, goat, and lamb. It sounds like a lot, but for our diet, we have no problem using most of it by the end of the month. And while the upfront cost is hefty, it averaged out to about $5 per pound, much less than buying the same quality of meat at the Farmer’s Market or a Whole Foods-type of retailer. Because we rarely have to supplement with other meat, I’ve also seen our grocery store bills drop.

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An average CSA pick-up includes a couple of whole chickens, several pounds of ground beef, ground pork or lamb, bone-in thick cut pork chops, chuck roast, beef or lamb stew meat, ham slices, and occasionally Polish sausage, bratwurst, a slab of ribs, and bacon. I’ve had to branch out from my normal cooking repertoire, especially with the pork chops, but during the winter, it was so easy to throw in some stew meat, vegetables, and seasoning into the crockpot and have a tasty, comforting stew for dinner.

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Most importantly, it tastes delicious. In comparison with grain-fed meat, grass-fed pastured meat is lower in fat and contains more Omega 3s as well as other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, if you do not regularly cook at home, a meat CSA subscription might not be for you, but I would strongly suggest sourcing the majority of your meat from either a local farm or a trusted butcher.

If you are in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area, Peaceful Pastures is currently taking sign-ups for May-October, and you can save $40 if you sign up before March 15th. I’m not receiving any compensation or benefits from writing this post. It’s something I strongly believe in supporting and want to publicize. Besides, Colin would want it that way.