Yup, I just bought $300 worth of meat. You may be asking: What?! How? Why so much? Isn't your family on a budget? Aren't most of your children away at college? And aren't health coaches, nutritionists, and doctors telling us to cut down on our meat intake? What's the deal?
There are all legitimate questions. Let me fill you in on the back story. (Cue the violins and the blurry camera technique, as we step back in time.) My husband is the athletic director at Wilson High School and last weekend the crew team was holding their annual boat bash auction. And one of the "items" being auctioned off was a boatload of meat from the Tenleytown Meat Company! The company was actually started by a Wilson alum and its objective is to connect DC residents with quality meats from nearby farms.
Well, we put our bid in and won! So tonight we received our $300 worth of hormone- and antibiotic-free cuts--ranging from ground beef to T-bone steak to top sirloin steak to roasts to ground lamb! To be honest, at first I was feeling a little like Lucy from the "I love Lucy" show in the episode where she purchases half a cow, not realizing just how much meat would be coming her way. (To hide her excessive meat purchase from Ricky, she decides to try to sell it on the sly, stealing away the butcher's customers. Hilarity ensues.)
Initially, I was worried that I, too, would be saddled with more meat than we (or our freezer) could handle. But it all fit, thank goodness. Now I'm super psyched and, unlike Lucy, I must say that I have absolutely no regrets about this purchase. Here's why.
1. Buying in bulk is cheaper than buying in smaller quantities. Obvi. Anybody who has ever gone to BJs or CostCo knows this. Ounce per ounce, pound per pound, it's more cost effective to buy larger quantities. It does require a big "up front" payment, but it saves money in the long run. And while the aforementioned big bulk stores often have organic offerings, including meats, I prefer to know the provenance of my meat. This is one reason the meat from Tenleytown Meat Company is a win/win. We got bulk prices on meat from a local farm (Glen Mary farm in Southern Maryland). And everybody's happy.
2. We were meant to eat meat. Animal protein is our only source of complete protein. In addition, we need the zinc and iron that meat contains to avoid anemia. Vitamin B12 is critical for our mental health and mood and it occurs only in animal products. I could go on. Interestingly , when Dr. Weston Price traveled the world to find the healthiest people groups, he actually fully expected to find some that subsisted on plant-based diets. But he found none. One thing the healthiest people groups in the world had in common was the fact that they all had meat products in their diets.
3. No need to fear the fat (or the cholesterol) in meat. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently issued information that eases cholesterol and fat restriction. (See this NY Times wellness blog that helps explain the science behind this finding.) What a relief! For too long, Americans were told to avoid meat, out of concern of elevating their cholesterol level. They were given a bum steer. Those recommendations were based on a flawed study conducted by Ancel Keys and published in 1963. And Ancel Keys, himself, conceded years later "Cholesterol in food has no effect on cholesterol in blood and we’ve known that all along.”
4. Grass-fed meat is a whole different animal. Meat from a cow that has lived its life in confinement in a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) has a different composition than meat from a cow that has been free to graze. The CAFO cow has been pumped with antibiotics and hormones, to prevent illness and to promote growth. When we eat that meat, we unwittingly ingest those things, as well. Grass-fed meat has five times as many Omega-3s as their grain-fed counterpart. (This is an essential fatty acid, crucial for our mental, social and emotional well-being.) For more on the differences between grass-fed and conventional meats, read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen. It's this generation's "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair.
Where do you get your meat? Would you ever splurge on it, like we did this month? Comment below so we can chew the fat (and all the goodness meat has to offer) together!