One of the biggest projects E and I have been working on lately is sourcing our meat better. For the last 6 or 7 months, we’d been going a few miles up the highway to an awesome little Amish market to get cows and birds from rural PA. This was cheap and only sort of inconvenient, and the animals were free of antibiotics and hormones (yay!) but the cows were still grain-fed. Not what we were going for. In our quest for grass-fed cows, we discovered that the famous Polyface Farms down in Virginia has a buyers club that delivers monthly to the DC area, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring, and Potomac. Super! We did a test run of just a few items. Delicious! It tastes, looks, and cooks COMPLETELY different than even the good Amish beef. Hooray for low omega-6 content and higher beta-carotene content! Also, hooray for getting as far away from supporting the factory farming model of beef production as we can. Once you go happy cow, you never go back! (that doesn’t rhyme. I know. whatevs.)
The only problem left was cost: the high quality stuff was twice as much as the Amish beef. The solution? Buy in bulk. And when I say bulk, I don’t really mean bulk. I mean BULK.
Step one: Obtain one of these
We went with a 5 cubic foot model. Fits nicely in the corner, quiet, energy-efficient, and will hold enough to get us through the winter.
Order 1 “beef box,” about 90 lbs of steaks, roasts, ground beef, and bones. yum.
Repeat. We also picked up about 8 chickens this round — a few different kinds. We’ve made 3 batches of AMAZING chicken soup with them so far. Perfect for the cold weather!
Repeat again. I didn’t catch a picture of this one because we had to do use all our stacking skills carefully honed through years of tetris playing to make all this fit in our chest freezer and the upright. This was a challenge because we got TWO MORE boxes of entirely ground beef (it’s a litte cheaper, and it’s what we use the most often). That’s 120 pounds this haul alone. That’s like 400 pounds of meat in our apartment right now. That’s enough to get us through the winter (let’s be honest, probably until July) which is good because the incredible farmers down at Polyface close up shop starting about now.
And, shockingly, we fit it all in while keeping a full shelf and some door space open in the upright freezer for our incredibly patient roommate D. Gingers need to eat too.
So, project Get Our Meat From A More Sustainable And Healthier Source is complete! We’re really excited for next spring, when we plan to also start getting eggs and possibly some treats like goat and lamb from the farm. For the next few months, however, we are as set as set can be.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Polyface Farms or some of the differences between conventional food sources vs. sustainable ones, Polyface has a website, and the guy who started it, Joel Salatin, has written several books. I highly recommend his TEDtalk if you’ve got 15 minutes to spare — he talks about eggs and his experiences with DC restaurants.