Getting Up Close and Personal With Our Food

One of my goals this year has been to find a local source for responsibly raised meats. After watching Food Inc. and reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I became aware of the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals and the consequences to our health, food system, and environment by those factory farms. While at a factory farm, cattle are fed a ration of corn (which their bodies aren't meant to eat), beef tallow (rendered beef fat) and other liquefied fats, antibiotics (due to their living conditions and diet, they need antibiotics constantly to survive), and other roughage. Cattle are meant to eat grass. Not only are they healthier when they eat grass, turns out that we could be healthier too when eating grass fed beef.

Grass fed beef has as much fat as skinless chicken, is much higher in Omega-3s, and 4 times higher in Vitamin A. Here's an article that explains the benefits of grass fed beef further.

In my search for local, pastured beef, I found Upper DC Cattle Company , only 11 miles away. Micheal and Christal Beeson's cattle have 18 acres of pesticide-free pasture to roam. They're never fed antibiotics or growth hormones. They are fed grass/hay and a small amount of grain.

We got the chance to go out to visit the farm yesterday, on a cold, muddy February morning, to see the animals ourselves.

They raise cross-bred cattle that I was told tend to be healthier. This heifer is about 75% Black Angus.

If you look closely, you can see a cream colored calf out there with it's momma.
This year's calves will be named after state capitals since Mr. Beeson's daughter is studying state capitals in school.

There's a donkey in the field with the girls. He/she let out a bray for us while we were there.
Finding humanely raised pork was also a priority for me. In the movie Food Inc., I learned about Smithfield and how it abuses not only the pigs but also their workers. Workers are paid very little and treated as though they are expendable. This article goes into more detail.
Upper DC Cattle also raise pastured pork. Though pigs will eat just about anything, their hogs grass and grain. They have 4 acres to dig up, root through, and run in. Like the cattle, the hogs are never given antibiotics, growth hormone, and their pasture is pesticide free.

Here is Cookie (the boar on the left), his sow and their babies piled up on top.
Apparently, Cookie is quite the trouble maker and escape artist.
After talking to Mr. Beeson for a while, I went inside to pick out the meat we'd be taking home.
A bag of beef bones (for beef stock), a bag of pork fat (I'll tell you about what I'm going to do with that another day), and a bag of pork bones (for soups and beans). These aren't on his normal order list and I was thrilled that he had them in the freezer.

Thick sliced, uncured bacon, and mild sausage.

Ground beef and stew beef.

You can see how little fat is in that ground beef. He said it was close to 97% lean.
Seeing the animals that I may eat one day didn't bother me. I'm happy that those animals get to live a good life while they're alive and I feel better about eating meat from animals that are fed a healthy diet.
We cooked a package of sausage last night and topped our homemade pizza with it. It was the best pizza I can remember eating. Charlotte even put some on her pizza and she is a cheese-only girl. Jon and I fought over the leftover sausage.
For those of you who haven't read Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" or watched Food, Inc., I highly recommend that you do. There is so much that the food industry doesn't want you to know about what you're eating. It's important that we all get this information so we can help to change the food system. We get to vote for the kind of food we want and how we want that food raised by buying real food that is raised/grown responsibly.