This might come as a surprise to a few people, but despite how easy it is to forage and grow your own food, even in the big city, it is rather difficult to forage for a good steak. It's only slightly easier to grow your own (I believe they call this "farming"). So what is a local-food-loving omnivore to do?
Granted, the hubby and I have drifted into and back out of vegetarianism for most of our collective lives, but I am, at this point, a full-fledged omnivore for a variety of reasons. Maybe I'll get into that sometime, but this is not the post for it. Really, this bit is to explain that the whole "buying meat" thing is rather new to us, especially buying meat that we feel ethically OK about. The default for us was usually to shop at a higher-end grocery store that totes organic and chemical-free meats, but "antibiotic-free" does not necessarily equate to happy, healthy animals.
Enter a genius Seattle-based startup that crowd-funds a local cow for anyone interested in buying. It's called Crowd Cow, and it is a shockingly simple and sustainable practice that I hope will continue, for so many reasons. I'm guessing a quick Google search will find something similar in your area - and if not, GET ON THAT, because these people are blowing UP.
Crowd Cow joins forces with small, local farms that raise grass-fed beef cattle with no antibiotics or hormones. When a cow reaches the proper point in its life, the farmer works directly through Crowd Cow to see if people are willing to buy the meat. Almost every part of the cow is then auctioned off: all your standard cuts of meat, but also pieces like the heart (um... not this time, thanks), soup bones (got a few for the dog and for some soup!), and liver.
Once the entire cow is claimed, only then does the cow go off to the slaughterhouse, where it is packaged, frozen, and promptly shipped straight to your door. Along the way, you learn about the farmer and the cows providing the meat, and in the end the meat is a similar cost to that in the spendy grocery store because you're cutting out the middle man - but of course, this is some beef you can really feel good about.
Now, I'm a complete sucker for a good pun, so when I got the email saying that my cow had "tipped" (meaning enough people had purchased to make it happen) and I was now a "steak holder" (HAAAA!!), I was so super duper excited. For the meat, yes, but also for the word play. Steak holder. God, that's clever.
As promised, a few days after our order we got an enormous box o' meat. I suppose you might be seeing some recipes in the next few weeks that involve beef in some way...
So we are solidly back to eating meats (once you start buying beef, it's pretty clear where your intentions lie). But at least we know that this was a happy cow, born and raised on the same farm, and never shipped across the country in the back of a sad truck. They ate delicious grasses and were cared for by someone who actually gave a hoot about their well-being. And in the end, they ended up in the homes of people who appreciate them and the work that their farmers are doing.
Am I trying to make myself feel better about eating meat regularly again? Possibly. But more importantly, I want everyone out there to know that there is a better option than our country's factory farms, and the more we support these local efforts, the better off everyone will be. Especially the cows.