Erwan Le Corre, John Durant, and Andrew at the farm
So the Eating Paleo in NYC Meetup Group just did its first meatshare! We met bright and early in the morning to go to Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, NY to pick up a lamb we ordered several months ago, as well as assorted other meaty goodies. Glynwood has been a farm since the 1700s, but these days its mission isn't just farming, since it is also a non-profit dedicated to improving Hudson Valley sustainable agriculture. Going there was a great opportunity to learn more about agriculture and the benefits of quality meat. Our tour was very diverse: WAPFers, paleos, raw meat eaters, and people just interested in grassfed agriculture!
Farmer Ken Kleinpeter gave us an overview of how livestock agriculture works. Most of the breeds he raises, like the White Park Cattle, are heritage breeds that do well in pasture. He explained that putting the average factory farmed cow out to pasture does not make for quality grass fed meat. He also told us about how government regulations make it difficult for him to bring meat to market. For example, it can be hard for them to book a date at the slaughterhouse they use, which is one of the few available that is certified humane. The really exciting thing to hear was that he is part of a regional task force that is developing mobile slaughter units for large livestock, which is huuuuuuuuuuuuge. It will make it much less stressful and expensive to process a large animal like a buffalo. Personally, I think slaughter regulations are ridiculous and it's too bad they have to jump through hoops for such nonsense as the regulation that the USDA inspector has to has their own office (they are going to have an office trailer). Furthermore, why is it OK to process chickens on-farm without an inspector but not cows? Are cows magically safe (haha) because of the USDA, but not chickens? Guess this is getting into rant territory, but you can read more on the unfortunate regulatory situation here.
The reason he can only sell frozen meat is that that it's expensive to keep meat fresh and distribution channels are slower. The animals are all very valuable on a small farm like Glynwood and the staff there takes great care during the slaughter process to provide as much comfort is possible. Ken also talked about how eating local grassfed animals raised on land that cannot grow anything else is the most sustainable way to eat, far more sustainable than a veggie diet utilizing grains grown in industrial monocultures or vegetables grown far away using lots of pesticides and petroleum fertilizers. The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith is a good primer about this.
Ken said he feels comfortable eating his own meat raw and talked about how much higher the risk is eating meat raw from industrial sources because it is not just farm to fork...it is processed, shipped, handled by the grocery store... and meat from many different animals is mixed together, which means that it's hard to trace any problems that do arise. Pastured meat also is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients. Ken believes Americans should eat less meat and even though I'm part of this diet is is really kind of meat-centric, I agree. I personally feel better eating less meat, but meat that is higher quality: pastured and fatty gives me the energy I need without overloading me on protein, which makes me feel sluggish. I'm of the camp that thinks you should eat the amount of protein that your body actually needs, which really isn't much. Ken told us he often has trouble selling the really fatty cuts, but all of us eagerly snapped up fatback for making lard!
In terms of the actual lamb we got, I realized we next time I needed to plan more lbs per person, but I hope everyone enjoys their cuts. My own personal tip, having done a meat CSA before, is not to be afraid if your cut has a weird name. Last month I got pig cheeks and I wasn't really sure what to do with that, but a quick Google search revealed tons of delicious recipes! So I discovered an interesting and cheap cut AND
There are more meatshares in the future! If you are in NYC, vote for what animals you are interested in.