Archive | January, 2014

Local eating: start with your proteins

9 Jan

Beef au Jus: Entirely made from things harvested and grown within 20km

There are innumerable reasons to eat local – depending upon your appetite and tolerance for the facts.

If you’re an optimist, you might do it because you believe in supporting local farmers and businesses.   If you’re a pessimist, it might be due to the reoccurring nightmares caused by watching Food, Inc.  Or perhaps it’s just because it’s trendy. (I’m fairly confident that anyone who’s bought a pair of wellingtons in the last decade has a food foraging fantasy.  Mine’s collecting mushrooms and wild greens to make pizza over a campfire).

Whatever the reason, the impact of buying local is significant and the rewards are delicious.

aL’s top 5 reasons for buying local meat:

  • It’s good for the environment.  Eating local meat is an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint (besides doing something crazy, like becoming a vegan…)
  • It builds community.  Farmers are hard working, dedicated and generally pretty awesome people to know.
  • It’s high quality.  Small-scale producers can take the time to manage their operations organically.  This means every morning they open the paddocks to let their cattle feed on grass.
  • It’s good for your imagination.  Eating nose-to-tail forces creativity (there’s only so many porterhouse steaks cut from a cow…so you’re going to have to learn to do something with the rest of it).
  • It feels right.  I drove through Texas once and was deeply disturbed by the cattle feed lots nestled right beside the eight-lane interstate. That, coupled with a few food security fiasco’s like the 2012 XL Foods beef recall, made me consider my options.  I wholeheartedly believe that happy chickens are tastier.

I am fortunate to live in an area where dozens of dedicated farmers coax amazing food from the land.   One of my favourite farms is owned by the Ireland Family.  They raise the sirloin that sizzles on my barbecue, the pork chops in my smoker, the lamb braising in my oven and the chicken in my soup; and all just 15 km away from my kitchen.  There are several wonderful shops that sell their meat around town. However, I prefer to deal farmer-direct.  Over the last few years, it’s become a tradition I share with a few friends.  We get together to butcher and vacuum seal our chicken, make our own stocks, swap recipes, and save some cash. (On average, we save 25-40% off the market prices).

Now, many people will get hung up on the idea of only getting beef, pork and lamb once a year, but fear not!  Over the next month I’m going to dish out some tips to make this easy.  And hey, if you really need more rack of lamb, there’s always more at the store.

Resources
Top 10 food documentaries to watch on Netflix (via The Kitchn)
Article about Ireland Farms (via Red Barn Market)
XL Foods scandal; one year later (via McLeans)

 

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