I want to take a moment today to talk about meat. Actually–I’m going to stand on my soap-box and rant about meat. Specifically big-box grocery store meat versus the alternative.
For nearly two years I have been buying all of the meats that my family eats through Kniffin’s Specialty Meats. Kniffin’s offers locally farmed meats to the people of central Maine. The meat costs more, but when you choose to buy meats not produced in a feed-lot you expect that.
Apparently Kniffin’s reputation precedes them, because when I tell people where we get our meats they immediately begin talking about how they can’t afford those prices. They always say “It’s really good meat–but I just can’t afford it.”
But I’m here to say–how can you not afford it?
When I think of the vast numbers of animals suffering in feed-lots on the big commercial farms and the cost to those animals, the cost to the environment, and the cost to our own humanity–it just blows my mind that people still choose to buy their meat-products at any of the big-box grocery stores.
It really boils down to the choices we make.
If we choose to abide by our conscience, I like to think the majority of us would choose the alternative to the cheap meats produced by commercial farming methods. And if we do the right thing and boycott cheap meats–we would begin looking for other options and begin making different choices.
I’ve told you before that my family is not well-off. Runamuk is still new and finances are unbelievably tight as we seek to improve our situation with this family business. Our entire food budget does not top $400 a month–and yet I manage to avoid processed foods, gmos, and purchase my locally-raised meats at Kniffin’s.
Like I said, it’s all about our choices. Because I choose to stay home to raise and homeschool my children, my husband and I choose to live on a smaller (and tighter) budget than we would have if I went to work outside the home. And because of that I’ve chosen to learn to make do with what’s available to me. I’ve learned to sew and crochet and garden, I make a lot of our homeschooling materials myself, we use the library rather than buy new books, we shop at second-hand stores and yard-sales. I’ve learned to cook differently, I’ve learned to bake, I’ve learned to get creative with our meals.
And because we choose not to buy meats raised by commercial farms we choose to eat less meat than we once did. We stick to the actual portion guidelines laid out by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services, we honor meatless-Mondays to a fault, and we stretch the meat budget even further by throwing in a vegetarian dish every now and then.
Kniffin’s also offers a monthly meat package for $99, and we usually buy a lot of the cheaper cuts–liver, chicken drumsticks, stew meat, ground beef. That helps too.
My point is, that if people really wanted to listen to their conscience and choose not to buy the cheap meats produced by factory farms, they would do whatever it takes to make it work. They would buy at the local farmer’s market, or seek out a local farmer, they would accept the true cost of meat production, and they would make the necessary sacrifices to make their choices work.
And we need more people to step up and make these hard choices, makes these little sacrifices if we expect to salvage our humanity in the future.
There. I will step down off my soap-box now. But I hope that the next time you go to the grocery store you think twice before you buy that package of chicken legs at 59-cents per pound, because that chicken had a miserable hellish sort of life to sacrifice itself for your wallet.