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A Struggle With Conscience

I threw out a half a steak yesterday and felt ill. I love meat, I love steak and lamb chops, I like chicken and fish but I don’t love wasting food, particularly meat. When we have leftover green things I can toss them in a compost bin and feel absolved. I’m not absolved, but I get the feeling that I am… which is only sort of okay.

Over the years I’ve been vegetarian and vegan too. Vegetarian while eating dairy wasn’t the best I’ve ever felt. I did feel incredibly good and strong as a vegan but to be fair I was in my early 20’s and would have felt good and strong in any event. I also spent an inordinate amount of time planning my meals. I’m not interested in living that way.

These days I languish… no I anguish at the meat counter of Whole Foods wondering if I’m inhumane because I buy my family $16 a pound beef that’s grass fed as opposed to the $24 a pound beef that’s also organic. What I’m really concentrating on these days is buying the proper amount. I serve meat in 5 ounce portions… except for when Mr. G gets a porterhouse, then it’s total Flintstone style where I fill his plate and delight in watching him enjoy his food. There are never leftovers with Porterhouse Steaks.

Lately though I’ve felt stuck. Like when I handle the meat raw I don’t want to eat it, and when my kids eat restaurant food I get panicked that they’re eating the sick and dying cow that got sent to slaughter just because no one gives a shit anyhow. I can’t smell bacon without thinking of the fake pigs that are live in metal pens shitting a river below them. It’s not that I don’t want to eat meat, it’s that I want to eat meat from real animals like chickens with normal sized breasts. Remember when turkeys had more dark meat than white?

I get a little obsessive about food and when I walk through the grocery store I’m pretty sure that the food processors are trying to poison us all. Most of my breakfasts and lunches are vegan but I don’t want my life to be vegan. I just want to be able to feed my family meat that isn’t full of corn, antibiotics or disease.

I’m looking for alternatives, where can I buy sustainably farmed meat in Los Angeles?

12 thoughts on “A Struggle With Conscience”

  1. My son just finished reading Eating Animals and is doing a two week trial as vegan for a school project. I know that it is a wonderful thing to do but so hard – so while my conscience says that going vegan is the ethical thing to do I am far too lazy to see it through. I did the vegetarian thing in my 20s but would prefer to continue to eat some meat and dairy that was ethically sourced. I have enough trouble getting my kids to eat without any dinner without removing entire food groups.

  2. Lindy & Grundy!
    Lesbian butchers on Fairfax.  They are fabulous.
     They know where all of their meat comes from.  It’s not cheap, but they do the work for you.  I get a lot of red meat, my thanksgiving turkey, and pork, sausage, etc there.  Great bones for Daisy J Dog.  They’re also on Twitter.

    I get the rest generally from the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, there’s a farmer there who I hit up.  I looked him up when I started going and he’s local and grassfed and all that but of course I can’t recall what his name is.

    Outside of that: Whole Foods for the Marys Organic Chicken.

  3. First, I enjoyed reading your post. I am grateful for Brandy
    bringing it to my attention. I am a third generation rancher/farmer from
    northern California, a husband and a father. The thoughts and feelings you
    describe are not unique. I’ll start at the top and work down.

    It is great to hear that you compost your spoiled fruits and
    vegetables. If we have spoiled meat, pasta, etc. (very rare in our home) our
    dogs feel extra special.

    While we raise our own beef and lamb and sometimes buy a hog
    from a local 4-H or FFA member, we do buy poultry and pork (when we run out) at
    the local store. I completely understand your struggle with buying on portion
    size. We buy large packages, typically at a better price and then freeze part
    of it, in separate zip locks, to save for future meals. When it comes to preparing
    our own meat, we often save the leftovers for lunch the next day (our packages
    are usually 2+ lbs, steak, roasts, etc.).  

    In reference to your question about price, all
    meat, corn fed, oat fed, silage fed, organic, natural, grass fed, free range,
    etc. is safe, healthy and wholesome. The price predominately is determined by a
    combination of cost of production, supply and demand.

    I can understand how may feel when it comes to food safety. Know
    this, as long as you thaw properly and cook thoroughly at the proper
    temperature, you will be safe. Occurrences of food borne illness occur when
    meat is left out at room temperature for extended periods of time, left open to
    the air in a refrigerator  for extended
    time and/or not thoroughly cooked or cooked at too low of a temperature.

    As a parent I too am very cognizant of what my son eats. We
    eat at a variety of establishments, from Mc Donalds to restaurants that are
    $40+ per plate and everything in between. I can tell you as a father, I have
    complete faith in the quality and safety of the food delivered to restaurants.
    What I do take notice of is the establishment itself. Honestly, there are fast
    food restaurants I prefer over some very “high class” establishments due to cleanliness…bottom
    line, if they do not care about a clean restaurant (including bathrooms) they
    do not care about the food.

    In regards to the where the meat originated from, only
    healthy animals, free from antibiotics are allowed to be sold for human
    consumption. I will concede that there are a few producers who have employees
    that “do not care,” but they are the exception. The vast majority of farmers
    and ranchers care deeply for the animals that they raise to feed you. We employ
    the latest technology and engineering to provide clean, environmentally
    beneficial and stress free facilities.

    Finally, off the top of my head, I do not personally know
    any local meat suppliers in your area, but I will keep my ears and eyes open.
    As for being “sustainable,” you should know that all farmers and ranchers
    primary objective is to be sustainable…we all want our farms and ranches to be
    as productive as it is now, if not, more so, for our children and our grand
    children. Many have taken the word “sustainable” and given it their own
    definition. As a farmer and a rancher, sustainable is balancing soil, with
    production, in a holistic manner that yields optimum production, not maximum.

    Here are a couple posts that I have written that relate to
    your questions:

    If you have more questions, feel free to email me, just
    shoot me a DM J

  4. Jessica it was great to connect on Twitter and I look forward to working on the Q&a project we talked about.

    Have a great day!

  5. Jessica, as far as beef goes here is a great place: Grass fed, but I don’t think it’s organic. The beef is from a ranch in Northern California. You can buy it at the Sherman Oaks farmers’ market. Some farmers’ markets also have chicken from ethical farms (the meat usually killed the night before) and wild caught fish.

    Yes, I feel the more I know about food, the less I want to eat the crap that is so readily available to us. You should feel blessed that you are at least able to afford better food for your family. The worst thing is knowing all about the shit you’re putting into your body -and your kids’ bodies, but because of your financial circumstances not being able to do anything about it.

  6. Hi Jessica – I was raised on a farm in the Midwest and I’ve always been intrigued with how people in cities view farming and food.  I appreciate your post.
    I’ve thought a lot more about the food in the refrigerator and cupboards since my son was born 4 years ago.  I do want to share that I have confidence in the people raising the food.  Even though I live close to my parents and still help on their farm I often buy meat at the grocery store to supplement the farm raised meat that we have.
    While I’m not familiar with where to buy meat in LA, here are a couple pictures taken at our farm and an effort to try to help people discern advertising with different types of farms and meat.  I hope that it is helpful to you and your family.

  7. I don’t have a local answer for you, but I get exactly what you are saying, and have been on my own search locally. I’ve found a couple of options that I’m looking forward to trying out.
    Good luck in your search!

  8. I would love to know that too! I actually wish we could find a fish market closer then santa monica!  I have recently explored vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian… I am tired of whole foods and trader joes I want a good fish and meat store!!

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