Sunday, October 26, 2008
Raising Eyebrows - Is Your Meat Local?
Since my husband won’t eat ANY meat I purchase from the local organic farm because he simply will not support the prices they demand for USDA certified organic, I started asking local stores if their meat is local. While I can't force my dear husband to stop eating meat (thus I still do too on occasion), I think I have him convinced the shipping and processing of meat and where it comes from is bad news. Actually, he saw a program on TV that surprised him -- there are large meat processors who actually send whole carcasses to China for cutting and packaging - then it gets shipped back to the states for retail sales. How fresh could that meat possibly be? There are no feedlots or factory farms in the Lykens and Hegins Valley,- just rolling fields of peacefully grazing animals. So the thought is all local butchers would carry local, grass-fed, field raised beef? I was wrong. But the interesting part of my asking was some of the reaction I'd get to the question. "What?" Where does our Meat come from??" I believe they suspected the punch line shortly. One butcher never called me back, while another said no with a bit of sarcasm, and referred me to their sister-store. The guy that made me chuckle most was the one that very proudly answered, "We get our meat from the Midwest from a really big company called IBP. Its shipped fresh and they always have nice cuts." He was SO proud of that. But it was the wrong answer buddy. I just said thanks and hung up. IBP Fresh meats, aka. Tyson Foods – is the world’s largest industrial food processors whom support CAFOs big time and is a major no-no in terms of green living. It really bursted my bubble with the store that proclaims, "proudly local." The local farmer's market has about 5 butcher stands and one of them does in fact carry locally raised and processed beef. I only asked one of the other stands if their meat is local and surprise, surprise, the answer was "it depends and changes from week to week. Some of it is, some of it isn't." The girl didn't seem to want to share too much information. It was the same reaction I got several years ago when I asked "are those strawberries organic?" And the answer I got was "What does it matter." Conclusion? I don't think the general majority of the butcher shop owners, or food retailers in general, think too much about the source of their food or the consequenses of not keeping it local. Organic is a whole separate issue. It saddened me to know "local" is not always local, and don't ask about it either!