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Farm Fresh Meat — Wild About Chickens
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Farm Fresh Meat

by Annie Janauer on January 24, 2009

in What we eat

 

One thing I have heard from folks about buying meat direct from a farmer is that the meat is not as tasty or high quality as that found in a grocery store or restaurant. They think it will be tough, won’t have enough marbling, or will taste wild and gamey.  I want to tell everyone that this has not been my experience.   In fact I have found the meat we eat from Meyer Mountain Farm or from the 4 H Auction to be far superior to any meat we have bought from a grocery store for a number of reasons.   Some you can see and taste and some you cannot.

First let’s see the meat. The last time we decided to eat steak I took some pictures for posting.  You can judge for yourself whether or not the meat looks good.  This was a rib steak from a Black Angus Steer born and raised on Meyer Mountain Farm and butchered by Steiner Meats in Otego, NY.

_amj0113_113brads-beef

This steer was raised on hay and grass and finished with judicious amounts of locally milled grain.  It never spent any time in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) and it was never given any antibiotics or growth hormones.  None of this animals feed contained any animal proteins of any kind. Without the harsh confinement or the unnaturally high protein diet common for animals raised or finished in CAFO’s this animal still put on enough fat to marble the meat.  It just took longer.  Commercially raised animals are slaughtered before they are two years old.  This steer was 3 years old. (By the way an animal infected with BSE - a.k.a. “mad cow disease” -  is not likely to show any symptoms until it is two years old so there is no way to tell if a cow has BSE before it goes to a regular super market).

We seasoned two of these steaks with salt and pepper and broiled them.  After removing the excess fat there was more than enough meat on two of these for my husband, my daughter and myself with meat left over for lunch the next day.  They were tender enough to cut with butter knives.  Delicious!

From the same farm we buy pigs.  The pigs are raised by the farmer’s son and daughter Chad and Sylvia Meyer as 4 H projects. What prompted us to start looking for a local non commercial source of pork was a conversation with a butcher at a Hannaford’s grocery store, when we still lived in New York’s Hudson Valley.  We had noticed that there was something strange about some pork chops we bought.  They were slightly salty without having added any salt and the texture was odd.  So we went to the counter and asked about it.  What we learned was alarming.  We were told that all of the pork sold in grocery stores is treated with a solution to tenderize it and moisturize it.  This was being done to “improve the dining experience” because most people over cook their pork making it dry and tough and because there has been a push to produce leaner pork which is naturally tougher and dryer.  We thought that this cannot be a universal thing and went off to an independent butcher to ask about this.  We went to Catskill Smoke House.  It is an old fashioned butcher shop where they do their own smoking of meats, make sausage, Landjaeger, Bratwurst, Braunschweiger, and other typically European meat products.  There we learned from the butcher that even his pork is treated this way.  If we want pork that is not artificially treated we have to get it direct from the farmer.  That was about 7 years ago.  Now we buy all of our pork from Meyer Mountain Farm.  None of it is treated and all of it is tender and juicy and delicious as long as we cook it right.  I would of course not suggest eating rare or medium rare pork. 160 0F is still the accepted safe internal temperature for pork.

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Now about Lamb

Being half Greek lamb has always been an important part of my family’s diet.  So finding a source for naturally raised lamb is very important to me.  Luckily sheep grow very well on all sorts of vegetation.  Hay, grass, clover, alfalfa, vetch to name a few.   Some breeds of sheep are better than others at turning grass into meat but all of them do this quite well and in fact cannot tolerate large amounts of grain (corn, barley, wheat, oats) in their diet. When fed large amounts of grain sheep develop a condition known as bloat in which a frothy film develops in their rumen preventing the sheep from releasing gas.  The rumen fills with gas, causing pain and death.  We have raised lamb on our little two acre piece but sheep really need more room than I have.  Our main source for lamb at the moment is the local 4 H auction which is held every year at the county fair.  There are sheep farmers in our area so I would attempt to develop a relationship with one of them if I were unable to purchase a lamb at the fair.  Recently we had lamb chops for dinner. Here are some pictures. They were delicious seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, fresh rosemary, and broiled to a juicy medium rare.  I recommend using a pepper blend, such as McCormick’s Peppercorn Medley (a blend of black, red, and green peppercorns, as well as coriander), as it is milder and more aromatic than regular black pepper.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sid Parham 01.25.09 at 1:11 am

I just ate, buy from all the same sources, and the pictures still make me hungary. Good work

Beth Donovan 01.25.09 at 7:07 pm

I just started buying our meat from the local butcher in the tiny town closest to us. They butcher the meat they sell, and it all comes from local farmers. They make their own sausages, smoke hams and bacon, and it is all wonderful and no more expensive than going to the grocery store!

Two Dogs 01.31.09 at 11:53 pm

I do honestly believe that this post qualifies as pr0n for me. Thank you very much, I like food pr0n.

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