Since reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” by Michael Pollan I have become passionate about grass-fed beef. There are documented health benefits associated with eating grass-fed, as opposed to corn-fed, beef but more important is my desire to know where my food comes from and to support local agriculture as opposed to industrial agriculture. I want to have as little to do as possible with beef finished on a C.A.F.O. (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation). That being said, I’m not a fanatic. I’ll still eat corn-fed beef at a restaurant, for example, or if served by friends.
This year I took the plunge and decided to buy a butchered 1/4 grass-fed, locally-raised cow, which first required that Linda and I buy a freezer to store the beef in. For $200 we bought a 7 cubic-foot freezer from Sears and the first obstacle was removed.
I searched Craigslist for grass-fed beef and found an ad from Kathy and Gary Parrish, who raise grass-fed beef on their farm near Manchester, MI. I told Kathy on the phone I wasn’t a crazy hippie but that before I made a commitment I wanted to know that my cow lived a happy life by cow standards. She assured me it did and we made a deal. My lingering doubts were vanquished when we picked up the beef a few weeks later. Nice folks . . . beautiful farm. If I were a cow I’d like to live there.
The cow was butchered and packaged at Nagle’s in Homer, MI. I ran through a pre-butchering check-list with the butchers on the phone:
how thick did I want my steaks? (thick, one inch)
how big did I want my roasts (3-4 pounds)
did I want special cuts like soup bones, short ribs and stew meat? (of course)
did I want the liver and heart? (no, but I knew Linda’s father would love to have them)
any special requests? (the tongue for my father-in-law, the brisket for me)
I left work early on Saturday so that Linda and I could pick up our beef by 5:00 p.m. Each piece was plastic-sealed for the freezer and labeled. For $255.00 – about $3.59 per pound – we received the following, all of which fit easily into our freezer: 14 x 1 lb pkgs ground beef, 2 pkgs soup bones, 1 pkg stew meat, 4 chuck roasts, 2 lb pkg cube steak, 5 rib steaks, 4 T-bone steaks, 2 sirloin steaks, 2 porterhouse steaks, 3 lb rolled rump roast, 2 x 2 lb pkgs round steak, 2 x 3 lb pkgs short ribs, 2 x 2 lb pkgs sirloin tip, 1 x 5 lb brisket.
A word about my wife’s role in this: she indulges me and allows me to pursue my passions. She takes some joy in my excitement, reins me in when necessary, and will help with the cooking, cleaning, entertaining and eating. What more could a man ask for?
Our first meal from our cow will be tonight: September 28, 2010. I plan to blog my way through the eating of this cow, posting recipes and observations as I go. Enjoy!