I stopped eating red meat when I was pregnant with my son (14 1/2 years ago). It was one of those funny pregnancy food aversions. With my middle child-it was parsley. With my first baby-well it was just about everything. I never regained the desire for red meat. In fact, I totally avoid the red meat counter in the food store. When I check out with my groceries, if the person in front of me has red meat, I move to a different isle. The sight of it all red and bloody on the white styrofoam tray covered in plastic just turns my stomach to this day the way it did when I was 3 months pregnant. And the smell of it is so offensive it makes me feel nausea. I have only had red meat once since my son was born and afterward I had a terrible stomach ache.
Last week, I picked up some ground beef from Fat Rooster Farm. I know I have red meat lovers arriving in just a few weeks when we host a group of home schooled teenagers for a week long farm field trip. Our family often gets teased about the foods we eat and raise and there has been much discussion among these teens about what they will eat for an entire week. So I thought how considerate it would be of me to have a red meat meal for those teenage boys that will abide with us for the week. I also figured it was time to meet my food aversion face to face…so to speak. So I decided upon meat balls. That way, I can easily save some sauce out for those of us who do not care for meat with our spaghetti.
I have been dreading making the meatballs. I wanted to make them ahead and put them in the freezer. Tonight, my husband has all the kids with him and so I decided with an empty house, it was a good time to make them. That way-should I get sick in the middle of it-no one would know. I first put all my other ingredients in the bowl saving the meat for last. I had thawed the meat out in the fridge in a bowl. When I pulled it out-there was all this red juice in the bottom of the bowl….yuck. I contemplated putting on gloves before opening the packages so that my hands would not have that awful smell on them but I braved it and began unwrapping the green paper.
I closed my eyes as the meat plopped down into my bowl with the bread crumbs, egg, onion, and herbs. I slowly opened my eyes and took a peek-much to my surprise (well not really) it did NOT look at all like that horrible stuff on the food store meat counter! And the offensive odor-where was that? As I began stirring the mixture with my very long handled spoon so as to be as far away from it as possible, I found myself putting the spoon down and diving in with my bare hands, squishing and mixing it all together. As I made each meatball and put it on the tray, I found myself almost wanting to take a bite even before they were cooked!!! As they baked in the oven-I could almost taste it in my mouth and it was sooo good! The only word I can think of to describe it is…..FRESH….it looks and smells FRESH! mmmmmmmmmmmmm
Wow! Hats off to Fat Rooster Farm and their amazing ground beef!!
This is why so many families in Vermont raise their own food-to provide FRESH, tasty, and healthy food for their loved ones and neighbors. People not only have kitchen gardens but also raise beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. The difference between farm raised food and feed lot meat and vegetables that have traveled 3,000 miles to get here is astounding. With the advent of the chain food stores, our taste buds have become numb as
|Pasture Raised Chicken|
our food now lacks flavor. We block out the images of how our food was grown and how it got onto our plates! We have forgotten that ham comes from a pig and steak comes from a cow.
When my son was two years old, we attended a story hour just after the Thanksgiving holiday. The leader asked each child to tell the group what they ate over the holiday. One boy said he had eaten some ham, my son looked at me and burst out with, “Mommy, is that PIG meat?” (We had raised pigs that year and they had just been slaughtered and put in our freezer.) The other moms and children in the group looked shocked and horrified to hear those words…”pig meat”. They preferred to not think of ham as a cute little pink pig like the ones in the picture books that surrounded them in the library.
|My son now raises his own “pig meat”.|
I will never forget the time that our family went on a 15 month sabbatical to PA. We packed our little homestead into a zillion boxes and moved away from our 11 acres in VT to a 3 acre lot in suburbia USA. My garage became a storage shed for my hoes, shovels, rakes, and garden gloves. As we sat at the realtor’s table signing papers for our new vinyl sided house in PA, the woman across from me rambled on about how I must find the local stuff-mart store. She was tickled pink that this store provided families with a “one stop shop”. She informed me that I could pick up a few groceries, buy the kids new socks, rent a video, and grab a hamburger from the fast food restaurant all from this one store! “One stop shop”,…”one stop shop“...”one stop shop”…that’s all I could hear. Little did this woman know that I had four LIVE chickens and their coop stuffed in the trunk of my car. I wanted to lean across the table, pick her up by her collar, and say to her, “Look lady, I have four chickens in the back of my car so that my children can at least eat an egg that isn’t 6 months old! “One stop shopping” to
me means going out into my garden and greenhouse and looking to see what is ripe and ready to be picked for my dinner!” But I didn’t, I sat there staring at her repeating her words over and over in my head, “one stop shop”. Needless to say, we only lasted there a short while and came right back to homesteading in Vermont.
Now, some 6 six years later, I am encouraged to see a move towards locally grown foods. People recognize the value and quality they have been missing all these years. With this new movement, even those unable to grow their own foods can enjoy the bounty off the small family farm. Even large cities now host farmer’s markets where farmers travel up to 60 miles with their trucks over flowing with fresh farm raised foods to sell them to city dwellers. Large food store chains have jumped on board as well proudly displaying signs that read, “Locally Grown” above some of their produce. City apartment residents come together in the summers and plant roof top gardens where they can harvest fresh salad greens and tomatoes.
So as I prepare my spaghetti and meatball meal for these teens a few weeks from now, I will proudly tell them that the meat was farm raised here in Vermont. As they exclaim over how delicious the meal tastes, I will not attribute it to my cooking expertise but rather to the care and attentiveness for which it was raised on my friend’s farm. And when they ask, “why do you buy farm raised?” they can taste the difference and answer that question for themselves.