Sunday, March 17, 2013

Three Sisters Beef Purchase

Last Saturday night I left the house around 10pm for a time-sensitive pick up  of two large, heavy boxes. What was inside?

Box of yum.


Delicious, beautiful swoon-worthy beef.  And so much of it!  To be more precise, about one eighth of a cow  from 3 Sisters Beef on Whidbey Island, our share of a whole-cow purchase organized by our friends Joe and Venessa. 

So much yum.
Full disclosure on my history with beef-  I've avoided eating it for most of my life because I have serious concerns about mainstream beef production.  I worry about the heavy environmental impact of a meat-centered diet.  The risk of food borne illness from eating factory processed meat scares me, and the fact that grain-fed meat is pretty unhealthy is another deterrent. Finally, I find the lack of animal welfare standards in the meat processing industry particularly abhorrent.  Jewish tradition places a great emphasis on preventing tsa'ar ba'alei chayim- unnecessary cruelty, pain and harm to animals, especially those raised for human consumption. Today's industrial meat complex falls very short of this standard (this is unfortunately true even for Kosher meat, which comes from the same factory farms as other meat). For me, eating factory meat is a spiritually empty act. 

Given all of these palate-clouding concerns, I never really developed a taste for beef, much to the chagrin of my meat-loving husband.  Lucky for him, that changed completely when I tried some 3 Sisters beef. It is one of the most delicious foods I've ever eaten.  This is probably due to the fact that 3 Sisters cows lead the happiest cow life possible, spending their days grazing in an idyllic setting with views of the Sound, building up natural flavors from the grass they eat.  It is also due to the fact that 3 Sisters beef is dry aged for a minimum of 2 weeks before packaging (dry aging is a magical scientific process that makes beef unbelievably delicious).  It's also probably due to the fact that I don't have any guilt clouding my palate- I really feel good about supporting 3 Sisters' sustainable business practices. 

The hubby happily anticipating grilling season.
We are also helping strengthen the local economy by purchasing from 3 Sisters, and the cost is not as much as you might expect.  For about $300, we got a nice assortment of ribeye, New York and top sirloin Steaks, 3 roasts,  a brisket, short ribs, cube steaks and flat iron steaks, stew meat, soup bones, about 25 lbs of ground beef, and a bunch of bones for the doggies.  Everything comes pre cut, wrapped, and labeled (which is nice because you can see the retail price you would have paid if you bought everything individually!).  I expect this will last us about a year. A delicious year. 

(If you're interested in reading more about growing worldwide demand for meat and the associated environmental impacts, Mark Bittman paints a thorough picture in this 2008 NYT article).    

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