For the past year we have been trying to switch to pastured meats and thankfully, living in Amish country we have plenty of farmers to chose from. We love getting our food directly from the farmer who raised it. Talking with LeRoy as we picked up our meat yesterday was so assuring. We could see how he runs his farm, where and how the animals were kept and also his passion for making sure that we get the best quality product. I would have loved to take pictures of the Miller farm but since LeRoy is Amish, I decided to err on the side of caution; I wouldn't want to damage our relationship.
Pastured meat is fantastic! We buy our chickens directly from a Mennonite farmer on the same day they were butchered; talk about fresh! We also get pastured eggs and milk. The eggs have rich orange yolks which indicate the presence of high amounts of beta-carotene and Omega-3's. The milk we get from grass-fed Jersey cows is raw, fresh, and a beautiful creamy yellow color. I can't drink the milk (darn genetics) but Andrew and Ravenna love it!
Why do we eat pastured products? According to Eat Wild,
Meat, eggs, and dairy products from pastured animals are ideal for your health. Compared with commercial products, they offer you more "good" fats, and fewer "bad" fats. They are richer in antioxidants; including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Furthermore, they do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.*Also, I might add, that when animals are raised on pasture they are living the way they lived for thousands of years. Feedlots and enclosed hen houses are not the way animals were created to live. It is inhumane for one thing, and for another thing it compromises food safety. When you have thousands of animals packed together, covered in their feces, eating food that they would not naturally eat in an environment where the air is so toxic human's have to wear gas masks for their own safety, what kind of product do you expect to get? You get a cheap, inferior product with the potential of bringing with it dangerous resistant bacteria.
Switching to pastured meat was a conscious decision and one that required planning and searching. Luckily, the internet, with such sites as Eat Wild and Local Harvest, make it easier to find and purchase pastured meats. Co-ops and buying clubs help decrease the large upfront cost of buying in bulk. We bought a half of a steer with a family friend and our quarter** will last us for much of a year. If you buy in bulk, which is the only way we could afford to eat pastured meat, you will also need to buy a freezer to store your meat. Buying pastured eggs and dairy is a bit trickier since they are fresh and often people have to travel long distances to get their dairy and eggs weekly. I am lucky in that the farms that I frequent are only a few miles away.
It took us years after we learned the benefit of pastured meats to switch, mainly because of cost and storage issues, but we are glad that we did and we will continue to do so as long as we can.
*The link for Eat Wild contains lots of information and studies on the benefits of pastured food products to back up these claims..
**Want to see what is in a quarter of beef? Check out my family blog.