Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with pigs. They’re natures lunchboxes, carrying all sorts of different delicious cuts in a compact, easy to break down form. They’re also dead cute; back in my on-farm butcher shop days I used to begin every morning with a coffee down in the farrowing barn just taking in their antics and awe-ispiring mothering skills. So after I moved out of Brooklyn this winter, my thoughts naturally began to turn towards the idea of raising some of my own. I’m happy to report that starting today, some friends and I are going to be doing just that - raising two of our very own pigs from piglets. We’ll give them a spacious pen, excellent feed, and a great life. And then on a crisp fall morning we’ll harvest them on site, and reap the benefits of their lives and our shared effort.
It's Monday, so I feel like I owe you guys a post (because I'm good to you like that). However, I'm currently buried under a mountain of research for an awesome project that I'm really excited to share with you all. More on that next week...
Chicken is by the far the preferred meat of American consumers. The average American eats over 80 pounds of it a year, versus just 50 pounds of beef, and 45 or so pounds of pork. But if you’ve been reading the news, it hasn’t been a really great week to be an american chicken consumer. Washington Post ran an article about the hulk-like increase in broiler chicken sizes, and Nicholas Kristof came out with a pretty damning op-ed for the New York Times about inhumane chicken slaughter practices. At the heart of the matter is America’s obsession with chicken breast meat.
Okay, I’ll clear this up at the outset: “Trim” doesn’t really qualify as a cut of meat by even the loosest definition of the word. Essentially, trim is just any bit of meat left over from the butchering process - as a steak is cut and shaped, trim is generated. Because trim is a necessary byproduct of the whole animal butchery process, it is just as important to eating sustainably as is a thick, well marbled Ribeye. For me, how a butcher shop generates, processes, and sells their trim speaks volumes about not just their commitment to sustainability, but also to their own creativity, ingenuity, and passion about what it is they are selling. Yeah, it’s that important.
Going to the butcher shop can be intimidating. If all you’ve known is pre-packaged big box supermarket whatever, the sheer sensory overload of a full meat case can leave even the strongest person catatonic. But the good news is that just by going into your local butcher’s place you’ve already made the biggest step towards getting great meat, the trick is just to avoid being paralyzed by choice. Here’s five-ish tips that I think can help anyone become a more clued-in meat buyer