Like many working moms, I was constantly bombarded by the commercials that state that I am way too busy to make anything myself. And to be honest, I bought into that and I was spending hundreds of dollars a month and thousands a year buying nutritionally deficient ready made food because I was indoctrinated into thinking that yes, I am way to busy. I remember I had my freezer stocked with ready made eggplant Parmesan, lasagna, mozzarella sicks, chicken nuggets and a pantry full of a dozen condiments, boxes of broth, canned tomatoes and canned tomato sauce. And since I am way to busy, my fridge was well stocked with bags of salads. I mean come on, I am way too busy to cut my own vegetables. What do you mean buy a full chicken and cut it up? Are you kidding, that would take a full 10 minutes out of my very busy day. And when I got so busy that I couldn’t even open a bag of salad and put eggplant Parmesan in the oven for my family to eat, we had the wonderful world of takeout. We had takeout more often than not. I remember when we moved out to the country, my husband and I lamented on the fact that no takeout place was close enough to us to offer delivery. Our woes knew no bounds. I am just glad that we woke up before the ready made frozen sandwiches became all the rage!
When we woke up to the fact that we were both now obese and my husband developed type II diabetes and has high cholesterol and sleep apnea. It was time to do something. So in addition to changing our buying habits and moving away from the conglomerate grocery stores, I started thinking about what is it that we are putting in our bodies. So I started searching meats. My husband doesn’t consider that he ate dinner unless there was some type of meat on the table. I was horrified at what I found. I am appalled that no one in government considers what happens to these animals on the factory farms as “Animal Cruelty”.
Did you know that the beaks of chickens, turkeys and ducks are often removed in factory farms to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds? Did you know that animals headed for slaughter that become too sick or injured to walk unassisted are forced onto slaughter trucks, often with a bulldozer? Did you know that egg-laying hens are sometimes starved for up to 14 days, exposed to changing light patterns and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting, a usually natural process by which worn feathers are replaced? It’s common for 5-10% of hens to die during the forced molting process. Did you know that from birth to slaughter at five months, calves used to produce “formula-fed” or “white” veal are confined to two-foot-wide crates and chained to inhibit movement? The lack of exercise retards muscle development, resulting in pale, tender meat.
And if this is not bad enough, many ingredients that are used to feed these poor animals are not the kind of food the animals are designed to eat. So what is in their feed? Same species meat and other diseased animals! Do you remember mad cow disease? How did you think it came about? Under the current laws, animal feed legally can contain rendered road kill, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs. Rendered feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood and intestines can also be found in feed under the category so fondly known as “animal protein products”. This is not to mention manure, swine waste and poultry litter. And if you think this is still not bad enough, how about plastics? Yes, plastics. Many animals need roughage to move food through their digestive system. But instead of using plant-based roughage, animal factories often turn to pellets made from plastics to compensate for the lack of natural fiber in factory feed.
So when it was all said and done, I thought to myself, I would rather be vegetarian than put this garbage in my body. If an animal is fed these things, then all this filth is in every tissue, fiber, and cell of that animal. So what I am eating and what I am feeding my family is literally nothing but filth. So what to do? You would be surprised how many small farms you have around you. Eve if you live in an urban setting. All you need to do is do a little searching. During my research period, I decided that probably going to a kosher or halal butcher was sufficient. And Again I was wrong. The animal may be butchered correctly, but where do you think these butchers get their animals? So here I go again with the urgency to find a better economical alternative. I mean I am not made of money and I need to be very frugal. I searched and searched and couldn’t believe that there was a farm 2 miles from my house that sells pastured organic chickens. Now the catch is the farmer only has chickens every 4 months and he only grows about 150 of them and they go fast. He is a little pricey at $3 per pound, but then again organic chicken is around the same price and even if they are fed vegetarian feed, they are still confined and treated badly. Now the next obstacle, what happens when I need more chicken? I mean as an American, I am used to going to the store and get anything and everything even if it is not in season. So the concept that I may not be able to get chickens from him whenever I need them was foreign to me. But the knowledge of the alternative made me re-adjust my thinking. So if I buy in bulk from him so that I can ensure my supply for the 4 months until his next batch, then I can have farm fresh chickens always. After all, the concept of bulk buying is not an unfamiliar one. So I bought a new freezer and I made a deal with the farmer that I would take 20% of his stock every 4 months. Of course 20% of his stock is a lot, but my sister-in-law was on the same quest and we were in on this together. So between the both of us, we took close to 30-35 chickens every quarter. When we first tasted this chicken, we were sold. I ran out of chicken earlier than anticipated once and I forced my self to get a couple of chickens at the store and I vowed that I would never do that. I literally said to my family that if for whatever reason we can’t get pastured farm fresh chickens then we are not eating chickens anymore.
I was so happy that I was able to source my poultry. My next battle was to find the perfect source for beef. I searched high and low, and did more research and found that the best and healthiest beef was grass fed beef. So I searched and searched and found a farm about 300 miles away that sells the best grass fed beef. The kicker was if I buy little by little then the price with the shipping became very prohibitive. But the more I buy and if I guarantee large quarterly buys, then it is a huge discount. So again, I went to my sister-in-law and we were able to get our needs for the quarter and double the order and guarantee quarterly order which afforded us free shipping. The first time I opened a package of the ground beef I knew this was different than any meat I have ever bought. And the taste was out of this world. There was no going back to the crap they have in the store and have the nerve to call beef.
You will probably say, I am paying more for meat, so where are the savings? You are right, I do, but let’s look at it from a different perspective. I buy my meat from two sources and I pay a sum of money four times a year. This means I have cut my grocery store visits to only buying vegetables and grains. And remember if you are making the switch into living unprocessed there will be very little to buy at the store except for veggies, fruits and grains. How many times did you go to the store to buy a chicken and end up with a couple of bags of groceries? You won’t have to do that anymore. Another tip, is that you must have a list before you leave the house. I buy only what is on the list and according to my set budget for the trip. This allowed me to save so much money, that I can now afford to spend a little bit more for good quality meats that would have been otherwise out of my reach. And if that’s not incentive enough, how about me supporting my local economy, which is good for everyone in my community. It might take a little research, but it is not hard to source your food and live unprocessed.