Our self-image can get outright ridiculous. Whether it’s the finest gear, notebooks, boots, knives, or stock pots, often I take too much pleasure out of having ‘The Best’. In my crushingly finite wisdom, I have found more satiety from the Bigger Picture than any material (including meat) within it’s massive slide. This might be because I’ve seen thousands of tenderloins and I know the cost- thousands of lives. Maybe it’s because working in an industry like meat does things like this to you. Or, maybe it’s because I’m just shy of being an asshole, at all times.
In our shop we do a great job of selling abundance. Cases in any venue will be full of options. Incentivised by price to help make margins and push surplus items, it’s a race against entropy from steaks to steak fajitas. Hiding behind the stainless steel is a reality we as carnivores need to face, we are taking life to bring a better quality into ours. Do I think this is morally wrong– No. Do I think we have an opportunity to spearhead a reprise of old-world appreciation– Yes.
This lack of communication, or resentment we have toward our own nature makes a devastating blow to the ‘Circle of Life.’ Mindless, devouring consumerism is what gives meat a two-edged sad face in the eyes of many herbivores. To them, not only are we taking life off the planet, without a care to give along the road. In many ways, I agree. Our severance from the reality of our food system has brought us toward a no guts, all glory scenario together as a group. We want to benefits of animal-based protein and fats, but not the weight of their life on ours.
Delightfully I uncover that we have an opportunity to turn this stigma upside down. In the year that I have been reaching my hand out to our Paleo community, I haven’t met one person that does not have a deep down appreciation for what animals have done to correct an otherwise ruptured relationship with our bodies. Asking a couple of questions like What does that appreciation look like for you? or What can we do to give back to a species that has quite literally saved our lives?
Simply, I’ve begun to return to an archaic appreciation for the presence of these animals in our world. It is as easy as understanding the variety of cuts in an animals musculature, and making it a task, a duty, to experience what the entirety of that life has to offer me. It also means educating the people that can only cook a Ribeye (that is easy. Make some Liver and Onions that doesn’t make an unsuspecting person gag and I’ll reward thee.) about the journey one has to undergo to learn effectively the skill of the sustainable variety.
To address this, I’ve drawn up a document in Excel to help guide myself to eat around the whole animal. It can be found below. You might find it useful.
Link To Excel Sheet – > BeefGuide
In the field that is labeled ‘On the Hoof’ is a weight that will vary from region to region, from processor to processor, and ultimately appropriate a conversation between you and your meat cutter/shop owner. This weight is all you need to know. It is the weight at which the steer, or heifer is sent to slaughter. The rest of the math is done for you- a complete breakdown. You can then print this document out, hang it up on your fridge and see how you’re doing on your possible ‘eat around the animal’ attempt. I bet it takes you awhile. I also bet you have loads of fun in the process.
The internet, and eventually this site, will have loads of how-tos and Paleo friendly recipes for the entirety of your journey.
When all is said, done, and roasted, another issue for me is the economics of our lack of awareness. Prices within this industry directly reflect the product availability in relationship to consumer demand. The reason why ground beef is so cheap is because 70% of the whole hanging weight is ending up in grinds. Rightfully, what your provider will do is make the price of these immovable products much lower than everything else. Incentivized and salivating, we are constantly drawn to the swirly red, because it’s affordable and abundant.
Balancing this shopping experience will eventually balance the market. There is not a degree in Economics hanging on my wall, but I have to believe that if more people shopped with this intention, there would be less need to separate these sections of animals with such polarity. There is also no degree in Shamanism from the Navajo School of Guiding, but it is possible that a more respectful relationship between Homosapien and Bovine might spark a chain of perspective shifts, as well.
Sticking with one cut, or section is easy to do. I also get into a rhythm and a lot of times, that is hard to break. Knowing that you’ve killed more animals in this situation is not the point, nor is it true. Moreover, the fact I found in my own pattern of Top Sirloin, Bottom Round, Grinds, Rinse, Sear, Repeat is that I’m not only caught in a cycle that will affect the market and sustainability, my actions reflect a person that is unwilling to try anything new. It is important to truly savor that 1.33# of Beef Tenderloin. They are rare, and take a lot of effort to get to your plate.
Even if this all seems preachy and unbecoming, it has helped me immensely on a personal level to communicate a need for a change in our food industry at the consumer level. There is a dark cloud hanging over our heads in the cold areas of department stores. This, to me, is a great way to hold one’s head up high to anyone who points the finger at them for contributing to the suffering of any being. Nature gives, we accept these gifts rightfully. And please, kill me and eat me if I ever say soy is a better alternative to our sympathetic moral response.