Going whole hog (or cow… or lamb…)

Thanks to The Ethicurean, we found this story on the increasing trend of people buying quarter, half, and even whole animals directly from the farmers who raise them. There are several opportunities locally to do this.

Of course our favorite source for local, humanely-raised beef free of antibiotics and hormones is Neola Farms. Cattle at Neola farms eat their choice of corn, hay, and grass to get them to their finished weight. For many folks, corn as cattle food is controversial. For me, the Neola Farms approach isn’t. The corn is raised by the farmer’s son, and the cattle do not live in the horrific conditions found in industrial feed lots. Neola Farms also has the advantage of offering individual cuts of beef.

If you insist on grass-fed beef, M4-D Ranch in Bartlett raises cattle that are finished on grass. They process cows quarterly in January, April, June, and October. A $50 deposit is required, but you will be assured of quality meat that is only as far as your freezer.

A bit farther away is Newman Farm in Myrtle, Missouri. Newman raises the Berkshire pigs mentioned in the article. Newman pigs also escape the horrific conditions of industrial farms. In fact, aside from the fact that they are born to die (Aren’t we all?), Newman pigs live an idyllic life roaming pastures and oak glens. They are never given antibiotics or hormones. They are fed natural grains and never animal by-products. Newman pork products are available through Heritage Foods USA.

One last place locally that we love is Jerusalem Market. We have bought both lamb and goat from them. We have always gotten excellent help and advice. We also get beautiful, fresh cuts straight from the animal whenever we ask. We shop at a big “animal-friendly” chain like Wild Oats because we have a fair amount of trust in them. But what leads us to trust a small market? We trust them because the meat and much of the food is Halal.

Islam teaches, “God has indeed prescribed that all things should be done in a proficient manner. Thus when you kill, kill properly and when you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he is slaughtering.” Currently in the UK, there is a controversy over regulations that would make halal slaughter illegal. I am far from an expert on the Islamic world, but I would rather include than vilify. The next time I go shopping at Jerusalem Market I plan to ask more about the source of their meat. True halal meat would certainly be the sort of food we would like to eat.

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