Jerseygator's Blog


Moving toward Meatless? A semi-vegetarian goes Paleo

Posted in food politics,locavore,Primal,Uncategorized,vegetarian by jerseygator on September 6, 2011

Earlier this year a friend of ours lost a tremendous amount of weight following “the caveman diet.”  I had never heard of it, but it didn’t sound healthy.  It is, however, hard to argue with success,and I reserved judgement until learning more.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know that we’ve been trying to decrease the amount of meat we eat, both for health and ethical reasons.  But have our “healthy” changes met with success?  Over the last few years both Darrol and I have had difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, despite eating a diet that is pretty consistent with the government’s food pyramid (or the new MyPlate).

October 2010

In addition, we cooked most of our meals at home using good ingredients: olive oil, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, organic/local vegetables and pastured meat from a local farmer.  Despite this, we were both overweight and on various medications.  Something wasn’t working!

I started researching the Paleo or Primal way of eating, first by asking our friends how they ate and what the rational for the diet was.  They were very helpful and pointed us to a few websites.  In college, my initial degree program was biochemistry and I was fascinated by evolutionary biology (total Stephen Jay Gould fangirl).  So when I began to understand that the underlying science of this way of eating was based on the evolution of the human species, I really got interested.

The basic premise of this eating lifestyle is that humans evolved for the vast majority of their time on earth as hunter-gatherers, not agrarians.  The introduction of grains, in the grand scheme of time, is very recent.  In addition, the last 100 years or so have seen a rapid manipulation of our foods, moving us farther away from “whole” foods to manufactured, processed food-like substances.  So to adapt to this lifestyle, one moves back to the initial way of eating to which our bodies evolved.

In addition to that basic premise, the role of insulin and other hormones and how they have evolved to work with our physiology is critical.  By eliminating grains, one is eliminating massive amounts of carbohydrates from the diet.  As insulin responds to carbohydrates, and insulin also promotes fat storage, the amount of fat stored decreases.  (I will blog on all these points soon, but just want to hit the basics today).

So what changes have we made? Surprisingly few.  The basics of the diet are grass fed/pastured meats (already doing),  vegetables (which have increased exponentially), some fruits, and healthy fats, such as coconut oil and avocado.  We eat a lot more eggs (pastured, from a local farmer) and no processed foods.  We seldom eat out, but when we do we avoid grains, breads, and starchy foods.  I’ve eliminated most dairy (no big deal for me), and Darrol’s moved to 2% or whole milk instead of skim.  We eat some cheese, mostly as garnish.  No breads, pastries, rice, pasta, etc.

Well, the proof is in the paleo pudding.  I had my lab work done and a doctor’s appointment today.  I have lost 14 pounds (just shy of 10% of my initial weight) and am in the healthy weight range for my height.  I’ve also lost 4 inches (!!) off my waist.  More importantly, my doctor looked at my lab work and stated “Wow!  Whatever you’re doing keep it up!”

Fasting glucose 67 (down from 87)

Total Cholesterol 148 (relatively unchanged…I was still on pravastatin)

HDL 63 (up from 54)

LDL 70 (down from 112)

VLDL 15 (down from 26)

Triglycerides 76 (down from 132!)

My vitamin D level went from 14 to 28 (still low but doubled from last time), so I’ll continue supplementation for a while, plus get my 30 minutes of sunshine daily at lunch (and much more when I’m not at work).  My thyroid level has been low off and on, so we’ll continue to monitor (I have no metabolic symptoms so am not overly concerned).  I’m off all medications and don’t have a follow up for 6 months!

So, I’m retiring the “Moving Toward Meatless” posts.  I’m excited to learn more about eating this way, and can’t see ANY reason to go back to the conventionally taught nutrition (eg, MyPlate).  I think one of the reasons it’s working is the focus on whole foods; removing the processed garbage removes so many non-food, potentially toxic things from the diet. I’ll be blogging about the science behind some of the ideas, as well as recipes we try.   Feel free to ask questions, and I’ll research what I can, or link you to some great sites.  I’m off to make some guacamole!

Darrol and I celebrate his recent birthday at Fogo de Chau

The Pot: Hard Cooked Eggs in the rice cooker

Posted in Cooking,locavore,Rice cooker by jerseygator on June 12, 2011

We are lucky to get fresh farm eggs whenever we want from a local farmer, so we eat a lot of them.  I wanted to boil some eggs up to make deviled eggs to take to a friends house today, and figured the rice cooker would be easy and keep the kitchen cool.  Using Alton Brown’s steamer method (found in his book I’m Only Here For The Food), I figured it would be easy!  Our cheap rice cooker came with a steamer basket so I was set.

Fresh eggs in steamer basket

Fill the pot with a bit of water for steam (about 3/4 cup) and turn to cook.  After a few minutes lay eggs in the steamer basket and close lid.  (Do not adjust your set.  The eggs range from white to brown to blue, depending on the hen’s breed.)  Set timer for 12 minutes and walk away.  When timer goes off, remove eggs with tongs and place into ice bath for 5 minutes.  When cooled, crack on flat surface and peel for delicious hard cooked eggs.

I have to say that this is the way to cook eggs.  Kitchen stayed cool, I used very little water (took two batches of 6 eggs each with original water), and the eggs were perfect.  They also peeled really easily, which could be due to their freshness or the cooking method; I’m not sure but every one peeled in seconds with no gouged whites.  I had also laid the egg carton on its side to center the yolks…seemed to work.

Yet another win for “The Pot!”  I didn’t have to spend “forever” peeling the eggs, as mentioned in this classic infomercial for Eggies.  (www.geteggiestv.com)

Creamy hard-cooked eggs were a breeze

An Offal Party

Posted in Cooking,food politics,Friends,locavore,New Jersey by jerseygator on January 27, 2011

As part of our conscientious eating, we are working to eat the whole animal when we choose to eat meat.  Recently we invited our friends to an “offal” party, that is a dinner party serving organ meats.

When we purchased our meat last fall, we ordered 1/2 cow, a whole pig, 2 lambs and a goat.  We opted out of the scrapple, having ordered that last time and determining that, if you didn’t grow up with it, it was nigh inedible.  (When the butcher asked if we wanted it, I inquired what it was.  Her response?  “Just what it sounds like, sugar.”)  This time, we took the organs from the cow and goat: heart, liver, kidneys and one non-organ, the cow tongue.

Beef heart

Let me start by saying that, other than liver and onions, none of us had eaten cow or goat organ meats before.  Darrol and the kids do eat the chicken hearts, so had an idea of what that tasted like, and we’ve had pate’ made from goose livers.  Fortunately, Darrol is both an experimental eater and an experimental cook, so he was up for it.

He started by making some beef stock with bones from Mr. Cow, then prepped the different cuts.

The beef tongue, which wins for weirdest looking thing we've ever cooked.

The heart was huge and was examined for the valves and chambers out of curiosity.  It was a least 4-5 times larger than a human heart; Darrol cut it up into slices to stew with broth and vegetables.  The tongue was incredibly odd looking and really didn’t look edible at all.  It was placed into the pressure cooker with some water in order to cook the meat.  Once removed, the “tongue” part (what you’d see if you looked into a cow’s mouth) was removed, leaving a large piece of meat.  Taylor had eaten a tongue chimichanga at a little Mexican place near the Delaware border, so Darrol decided to make taco filling with the tongue meat.

Beef kidneys. Darrol separated them into lobes then chopped finely.

In looking for recipes for steak and kidney pie on the internet we were repeatedly warned that kidneys stink!  Watch out for the stink, here’s how to get rid of the stink, etc.  Well, I guess that happens if you buy kidneys from the grocery store (in England…can’t say I’ve ever seen them over here), but kidneys from a grass fed cow that is immediately processed and brought to your freezer evidently have no odor at all.  I even held one up to my nose trying to smell something bad.  They smelled faintly of meat.  Darrol chopped them up finely with some chuck and sauteed them; the pie filling was topped with phyllo dough and baked to a golden finish.

The last thing in was the liver and onions, as they cook quickly and should be eaten right away.

Liver in all it's bloody glory

This was a familiar smell to most of the older generation, as we had moms or grandmoms who used to cook up a batch.  The frying onions made the whole house smell wonderful.

Darrol managed to bring four diverse dishes to the table all at once, an amazing feat that was appreciated by all.  We had some local cheese from Philadelphia, courtesy of Tim, and some homemade latkes made by the amazing Lil.  Tim, incidentally, recently lost close to 100 pounds on the “primitive” diet, which is based on meat, veg, fruit and nuts with almost no refined grains of any type.  Lil had also brought some crackers made with nut meal, and some “primitive” brownies to add to the table.

Everyone sits down to try the offal stuff

Everyone sat down to give the fare a try.  I will say that the young men of the group ate heartily and seemed to enjoy pretty much every dish.  We had one participant who basically thought the concept was interesting in theory, but not in practice.  She stuck to latkes.  The overall impression was favorable, with the favorites being the liver & onions (2 votes) and the steak & kidney pie (2 votes).  The tongue tacos were my favorite, as I just don’t like the texture of organ meats, and tongue is basically just a meat from an unusual place.  The heart stew was good, but didn’t win any votes as favorite.  I wonder if we put some dumplings in there if it would have won over more people?

Steak & Kidney pie

Liver & onions

Heart and Veggie stew

Tracey tries a tongue taco

Moving toward meatless

Posted in Cooking,food politics,locavore,vegetarian by jerseygator on January 26, 2011
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Over the past few years we have had occasion to learn more about the food production in this country.  Some of the education is through national multi-media; books such as “The Omnivore’s Dilemna,” movies such as “Food, Inc.,” radio podcasts such as “Earth Eats,” and, of course, countless websites, such as the Ted talks.  Moving to New Jersey was also an education.  The farms, road stands, and overall food culture here in South Jersey is amazing.  Farmers are so willing to share what they’re doing (and how they’re doing it), as well as the struggles they have in providing good products.  It’s still difficult to find organic products at many of the road stands (though not impossible), but at least we’re eating a large portion of our food sourced locally.

With this education, however, comes a moral dilemna.  Can one continue to consume a product which doesn’t align with one’s own moral compass?  Obviously, many people do.  No one I know condones animal cruelty, yet most buy meat from the supermarket without a second thought, pushing the factory farm that the meat came from out of their minds.  Becoming a vegetarian is an option, but an option not chosen by many.  Being an omnivore is culturally excepted, and most people like the taste of meat.  There are still some who argue that we aren’t designed to be herbivores, an argument I consider specious.  We aren’t “designed” to use birth control, either, but I don’t see many people arguing against condoms, the pill, or the rhythm method.

So what is a conscientious person to do?  In my explorations I find too many people who try to convince their audience to their viewpoint using emotion.  Not being an overly emotional person, I just find that annoying.  Give me facts, figures, and, most importantly, a grounding in reality…the reality of raising a family and the time constraints, budgets and personalities that come with it.

As we struggle with it, here’s some of the decisions that I or we as a family have made:

  • Conscientious meat consumption.  We don’t want to support the CAFO’s so we are buying our beef, pork, lamb and goat from a local farmer.  We found her on eatwild.com, and are comfortable that she is raising the animals to have normal lives: pasture, sunlight, grass, antibiotics only if ill, access to mother/baby relationship.  Currently, we are getting chicken at the farmer’s market.  Free range, cage free chickens are EXPENSIVE, so chicken has become a much less consumed item.  (Full disclosure: occasionally Darrol will buy chicken from the supermarket, usually for stock, but is minimizing these purchases.  The chicken industry is truly horrible.)
  • Eggs are purchased from a local farmer.  We can actually see the chickens running around, eating bugs and vegetable scraps.  The eggs are amazing: firm orange yolks and wonderful flavor.  Again, the poultry industry is one of the worst offenders for animal husbandry standards.
  • Using the whole animal.  We recently had an “offal party” for our friends.  The menu included liver & onions, heart and veg stew, steak and kidney pie, and tongue tacos.  It seems more respectful to consume the entire animal if you’re going to make that choice.  I’ll be blogging about the party soon.
  • Moving toward meatless:  Although I doubt my husband or son will ever become vegetarians, I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually went in that direction.  Currently I’m following Mark Bittman’s advice: vegan before 6pm.  I’ve replaced butter with EarthBalance (made with cold pressed oils, not hydrogentated) and milk with almond milk.  I started this because my LDL cholesterol moved up enough for my doctor to prescribe a low dose of a statin, and I’d really like to move away from taking medication.  I’ll blog about these food decisions as well.  (Funny, I found very few blogs via Google about moving toward meatless…most are already vegetarians or are make the move abruptly).
  • Continuing education:  I’ll continue reading and viewing food related media, keeping an open mind.
  • Political activism:  I’m not the type to stand on the roadway with a sandwich board, but I have been known to contact my senators and/or state representatives, so I’ll continue to do that on things that are important to me.  As with voting, if you don’t participate, you really don’t have the right to bitch.

I’d be interested to hear how others handle their choices.  Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.

Oh, please, not hamburgers and hot dogs!

Posted in brewing,Cooking,Garden,locavore by jerseygator on September 7, 2010

Labor day, last day of summer, grill-fest in every backyard.  As we homeschool, tomorrow is not-back-to-school day and the weather is too perfect for the summer to be over.  And when it comes to grilling, I just couldn’t face hamburgers and hot dogs!

Darrol picked today to finally brew his cherry lambic, so there were two cooks in our space limited kitchen.  Not a problem, though, as I was planning on grilling.  As usual when I cook, it was around 4:00 that I started thinking about cooking dinner (this is why Darrol usually cooks).  I decided to go to my cooking guru, Mark Bittman, for inspiration.  Mr. Bittman pulled through and we had an eclectic and delicious dinner around 7pm.

We’re omnivores, so I wanted to have some sort of meat.  Too late to pull anything out of the freezer (despite the fact that it is full of Mr. Cow 2 and Mr. Pig, the sequel).  If we’re going to buy “grocery store” meat, it will at least be something that we don’t have tons of down in the basement, so I went with a flank steak.   This went into a plastic bag with soy sauce, garlic, smoked ginger, lemon juice and mirin (sweetened saki).

I had Darrol start the grill, as I always seem to lose the hair on my arms when I try. While the meat was marinating, I decided to try grilled cucumbers made into a 15 minute pickle.  I grilled thick slabs of freshly cut cucumber from the garden to char, then combined them with tarragon vinegar, salt and sugar and set them aside.  The marinated meat went on the grill for 3 minutes per side and was nicely charred when I took it off and tented it.  Sliced Italian bread rubbed with olive oil was toasted , and then some sliced apples.

Grill off and back into the crowded kitchen.  Darrol was adding the sour cherries we had picked and frozen back in the spring to his wort and the kitchen smelled yeasty and fruity.  To add some cool crunch to the dinner I made a quick arugula salad with baby arugula, toasted pine nuts, dried cherries, sliced bosc pear and grated parmesan, then topped with a lemon juice/olive oil dressing.  Darrol cooked up sweet corn and Jersey limas, as our end of summer meals almost always include succotash.

The dinner was plated simply: steak cut on the bias, pickles, arugula salad and succotash with grilled bread on one plate, and the grilled apples topped with a drizzle of greek yogurt, honey and a sprinkle of cardamon for desert.  The pickles were a surprise.  Tart and crunchy with a smoky undertone; we will definitely have those again.  The apple dessert was also a revelation.  The cardamon added a fall touch somehow, probably because it add it to oatmeal all winter.  Next time, I’ll try grilled pears with the yogurt/honey drizzle, as I imagine that will be just as wonderful.  There are only a few more weeks to grill, so we’ll have time to experiment.

It was fun discovering that the grill does more than just the usual burgers and dogs.  Hope your Labor Day holiday was spent with friends and family and that you enjoyed this “last day of summer!”

Friends, Food & Fun

Posted in brewing,Cooking,Garden,locavore,restaurants by jerseygator on August 14, 2010

Wow, it’s been a busy summer here in South Jersey.  Darrol’s been working at the Sweet Life Bakery, as well as his paying job.  Tracey’s been busy at the pharmacy & trying to pick up the slack from Darrol working too much.  The garden is growing despite the neglect & lack of rain.  And in the middle of it all, our good friends from Paris arrived in the States last week.

Tracey, Gour & Helen

It was wonderful to see Gour & Helen again.  When we saw them last, it was in Paris, in December 2009 and they had just treated us to dinner at Le Entrecote on the Champs-Elysees.  Needless to say, it was an incredible time with wonderful friends and great food & wine.  So when Gour & Helen came to the States (her roots are here in South Jersey), we took them to the BEST place we could think of to match the awesome cuisine of Paris; Blue Plate restaurant  in Mullica Hill and the amazing creations of Chef Jim!  If you’re ever in the Northeast USA and anywhere near Philly, it’s worth the short ride to Mullica Hill, NJ to get some of the best food you’ve ever tasted.  Chef Jim uses local produce whenever possible and it shows in the incredibly varied menu he provides; World famous Jersey Sweet corn & Jersey tomato’s just to name a few.  Of course, since Gour & Helen were our guests this time, Darrol provided the wine.  I make my own wine & we had both the Green-Apple Riesling and my Valpolicella to keep us company all night long.  And as an aside, Chef Jim had visited the Sweet Life Bakery just a few weeks before, so I brought him some of our goodies that he didn’t get during his last visit to the bakery, including our Multi-grain bread!

Chef Jim & Darrol w/treats from the Sweet Life Bakery

This included some croissants and danish that we hand-make at the bakery (all butter, if it needs to be said!).   We started out by getting appetizers, including a clam BLT that was excellent , a pear & goat cheese salad with balsamic dressing and a goat-cheese stuffed pear salad.  Chef Jim responded by providing a simply wonderful dish of cavatelli with fried goat cheese (my favorite!) and sweet pea tomatoes!  Wow, it was delicious and Gour & Helen loved it as much as Tracey & I did.  The entree’s were, of course, simple but amazing; Salmon with horseradish mash potatoes, Hanger steak with corn risotto, Gnocchi with Spicy Sausage and Strip steak with a Peach/Tarragon sauce that should be illegal but, thank goodness, isn’t!  Top that off with a Smore cupcake dessert smothered in chocolate and you you have perfect ending to a perfect dinner in the perfect place.   South Jersey is full of surprises, not only in the vegetables and fruits that this great state produces, but in the people and places that utilize the amazing tasting produce that is grown here.  Having been out of this country several times, I’m not sure that I’m a ‘World Traveler’ but I can state unequivocally that, I’ve tasted food from around the world and South Jersey is among the best I’ve ever had!

The Battle for the Front Yard, Part II

Posted in Garden,locavore by jerseygator on June 18, 2010

Yesterday my neighbor, Donna, stopped by to compliment me on my front yard.  No, I’m not maintaining a pristine, golf-course worthy lawn; I’m creating an edible landscape.  Donna, my neighbor, knows of our family’s interest in local food and organics; she notes that her dog only likes to eat our grass (Bosco is no dummy!), as we practice organic lawn care.  What was funny is that she found herself defending us.

Donna’s sister was visiting from out of town and the two of them were walking Bosco after dinner.  As they passed my house, Donna commented on my front bed.  “But aren’t those vegetables?” her sister asked.

Hops (for home brewed beer) growing along side fence

Donna pointed out the asparagus growing high in the back, the basil, parsley and cherry tomatoes growing by the front stoop, the edible flowers, lavender, pansy and nasturtium, tucked in by some ornamentals, and the two types of sage adding some color and texture.  Then she pointed along the side of the house, where there is a beautiful hydrangea flanked by 3 plum tomato plants in cages, blackberries and hops on trellises, and banana peppers throughout.  On the front stoop are containers filled with green pepper plants, sage and oregano.  On the front yard is a volunteer melon or squash of some sort; we’ll wait and see what develops.

It really makes sense, doesn’t it?

Side yard "before"

Side bed with tomatoes, peppers and ornamentals

Front bed with herbs, asparagus and ornamentals

Front bed "Before"

Cherry Pickin’

Posted in Garden,locavore by jerseygator on June 11, 2010

For weeks we’ve been driving past our favorite farm stand, Mood’s on Rt. 45 just outside Mullica Hill, to see when they’d be opening up the U-Pick season.  Finally it was announced that they were opening up with sweet cherries on June 7th.  So that morning, after some necessary gardening chores, I grabbed a basket and headed down to get some summer fruit.  The day certainly cooperated; after a weekend of 90+ degree weather, this morning it was in the mid-60’s with a light breeze and clear skies.  Perfect harvesting conditions.

When I arrived at 9am the place was already bustling.  An elderly man guided me to the parking area with a red flag and I made my way to the little stand, manned by friendly young women who weighed my empty basket and gave me a ticket with the weight jotted down.  I found an empty tree and started filling my basket with low hanging fruit.  Surrounding me were a variety of people; the next tree had two women laughing and chatting in Russian while the tree across the row had a young Hispanic family giving directions to each other in spanish.  Small children ran through the trees with brightly colored beach buckets and an elderly gentlemen held a ladder while gently guiding his wife, who had ventured a few feet up the ladder, to some elusive fruit.  People walked by holding all sorts of containers: tupperware, straw baskets, plastic totes, 5 gallon buckets and boxes were found in abundance.  One woman was bemoaning the fact that she had forgotten her wagon as she lugged two heavy pails of cherries.  I had learned not to bring too large a bucket for sweet cherries.  In our family, these are mostly for eating out of hand, not for canning or preserving.  I seem physically and mentally unable to leave until I fill whatever container I brought, so I limit the size!

And the fruit!  I didn’t even have to move as I reached up and plucked handfuls of ripe berries.  Cherries are the beginning of the season for me.  I like strawberries, but I LOVE cherries.  Not only are they delicious, but they’re so beautiful hanging down in little bunches with the sun streaming through the leaves.  I filled my bucket in about 15 minutes and made my way back to the stand.  On the way I heard one woman laughingly tell her husband he had to sit in the back, as she didn’t trust him up front with the cherries.  Another woman, just arriving, commented on how beautiful my basket of cherries were.  I could see that she couldn’t wait to get into the orchard to pick some for herself.

I had my cherries weighed; in 15 minutes, I had picked 11 pounds of sweet cherries!  My tab came to $18.50, a true bargain.  And not just a bargain in terms of money.  The carbon footprint for these cherries added up to the 10 mile round trip I had driven.  And there’s a difference between cherries that have traveled thousands of miles and sat in your grocery.  Just picked cherries have a firm consistency that is hard to define, that is nothing like the soft, often mealy cherries you buy in the grocery store.  Fresh cherries feel like they could bounce away if you dropped them.  And the taste!  On the drive home, with the basket sitting beside me (first mistake) I reached in and grabbed a couple of berries.  Wiping them on my t-shirt, I bit into one.  The firm flesh immediately squirted cherry juice down the front of my t-shirt as I relished the sweet-tartness of an early season berry.

Next monday the season opens for sour cherries, my favorite summer fruit.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

Living la vida local, or why we spent $60 for 3 chickens at the farmer’s market

Posted in Cooking,Garden,locavore by jerseygator on May 22, 2010

This morning Darrol and I traveled to the Collingswood Farmer’s Market in a nearby town.  CFM was voted best small farmer’s market in America last year and with good reason.  Plenty of locally grown fruit and veg, cooking demonstrations, baked goods, flowers and free-range meat being bought by folks with lots of strollers, leashed dogs and canvas bags milling about.  We love the atmosphere and community as well as the bargains we find.

This morning we walked around for a bit before stopping at a local meat purveyor.  The meat comes from Pennsylvania and Jersey, so within a 100 mile radius (the informal range given to locavorism).  As we already have our beef, pork, lamb, goat and turkey orders into our local Jersey farmer, we knew we didn’t need much.  We tried some of the raw cheeses then settled on buying 3 hens, ranging from 3-1/2 lbs to 7 lbs.  Our total bill was just shy of $60.

Now, I’m sure some people would think “boy, are you stupid.  You can go down to Shoprite and get 3 chickens for 20 bucks!”  True, true.  However, once we decided that we wanted to eat more mindfully, and we didn’t want to be vegetarians, we knew we had to align our practices with our moral compass.  Books such as “Righteous Porkchop,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemna,” and “Food Matters,” as well as movies like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.” all point out the relationship between what you eat and how you live.  Once you know how animals are treated at factory farms (CAFO’s) can you simply ignore it and eat as before?  If so, there is a disconnect between your head and your heart.  Factory farmed chickens, in particular,  lead horrendous existences (I can’t even call them “lives”) and are often dispatched in cruel, inhumane fashion.  Chickens bred as layers, once they are no longer as productive, are often slaughtered by being tossed alive into grinders to make feed for other animals.  Can we as a species continue to condone that by turning a blind eye?

I’ve tried to teach my children that there are 2 ways to vote: with your feet and with your dollars.  If we continue to bemoan the practices, yet still buy “cheap” chicken, the practice won’t stop.  If instead we use our feet to propel us to farmer’s markets and farmers who treat other life forms with respect, their businesses will grow.  Although some people choose to simply not eat meat, an opinion I respect and admire, it didn’t work for us.  So, instead, we will choose to pay more.  We will meet the farmers, like the older couple from whom we buy eggs (you can see the chickens running around, and the yolks are an intense orange from the chickens’ varied diets), and the kids at the farm stands outside the orchards.  We will spend $20 for one chicken, and then eat every part of it over several meals: roasted, then as shredded meat on a burrito, with the bones making a stock.  We will honor the cost of the  meal, not in dollars, but in the life of the animal.  We aren’t perfect and we aren’t shrill (we’ll eat out  on occasion and have meat, etc.), but we do try to follow the 80/20 rule… 80% of what we eat is local and/or organic, grown ourselves when possible, and grown/harvested (slaughtered) respectfully.  Eventually that other 20% will start to shrink as well.