A Meaty Conundrum

When I was a kid in Wyoming, my parents often went halvsies on a steer with a friend. We had a big freezer in the garage that was generally full of butcher-paper-wrapped packages. My mom would always tell the rancher not to do the final grain feeding; she liked the taste of beef that had been fed only on grass.

Who knew, 30 years later, that what seemed just regular to me back then would become trendy, with options for the meat-craving consumer including CSAs and buying clubs?

The Washington Post’s food section looks at families who are choosing to go whole hog—whole steer, actually—in their quest for meat that is raised without hormones and antibiotics.

The piece delves into the costs of buying a half or whole animal (typically slightly more than supermarket meat, but considerably less than organic meat bought at a place like Whole Foods) and touches only briefly on the taste of the meat. But it lovingly details the logistical challenges. One of the people profiled had to buy a freezer to store his bounty, which, he notes, you have to open carefully “or it will all come spilling out on you.”

Another meat-eater first had to learn rudimentary cuts of meat so he could tell the butcher he hired how to process his steer. But that was only the beginning of his problems:

There were other surprises. When Storm picked up the beef, it was wrapped in old-style butcher paper, packaging that wouldn’t endure long storage. So he bought a $140 vacuum sealer and spent several nights packaging the beef in front of the TV.

I hope he wasn’t watching CSI while doing it.

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