If you had a budget cut, which meat would you sacrifice? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
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This is purely a hypothetical at the moment, I just want to hear all of your thoughts on this. Assume you currently buy 100% pastured meat across the board, and you get hit with a grocery budget cut for whatever reason, and have to give up 1 type of pastured meat (but could still buy organic). Which would it be?

Do you start buying organic, battery chickens?
organic confined pork?
organic CAFO beef?
organic lamb?
what am I missing?

I'm not making this a poll because I actually want to hear your reasoning.

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#2 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 02:33 AM
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This is what I do personally.

I used to purchase organic 'free range' whole chickens and/or chicken legs/thighs (I don't have great access to pastured chicken, nor do I have the budget for it), but from what I've read about the omega 6s in the fat of non-pastured, grain fed chicken, organic or not, I now mostly buy antibiotic free chicken breasts, skinless/boneless, and prepare them by adding good fats like coconut oil/milk or using them in salads w/ EVOO based dressing. Certainly not ideal. But I get grass fed beef and pork more affordably and readily, and its the sacrifice I choose to make. (I also will take more fish oil on the days I eat non pastured meat.)

I was reading something recently that beef, b/c it is mostly saturated fat, has less of the O6 problem that chicken and pork do. So perhaps buying organic beef would be the lesser of all the evils? I'm really unsure still. It's something I'm continually researching... There was a post in the forums of MDA (that I can't find at the moment) about this topic...may be helpful?

I think there is a vast difference between pastured and any other meat--organic grain fed, even when 'free range' is not going to be nearly the quality of pastured IMO, and the biggest issue is w/ the fat. So, I'd probably try and stick to lean cuts of conventional meat (when you're going to go that route) and add good fats like CO etc to replace the animal fat...


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#3 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 03:16 AM
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We only eat grass-fed beef (and lamb, goat and buffalo the rare times we eat those). about 80% of the time though, we get rosie chickens or hoffman chickens. They're a lot less money. I know they're not great, but I'm pretty comfortable with their safety. (as compared to totally unsafe with conventional beef though I very very rarely will eat throughouly cooked conventional beef when out. rarely though.)

also, cows aren't designed to eat more than a smidge of grain, whereas chicken can handle eating plenty of grain. Not great but, it seems a little better. We locally have some pretty good choices for ok but not pastured chicken. Hoffman (might be pastured, or partly pastured or something but I don't know. the prices make me think it's not.), rosie, I sometimes buy mary's. I don't trust their advertising (I bought a "pasture raised" chicken for like 3.50 a pound at berkeley bowl the other day. uhhhh... why can you do pasture chicken for half the price of anyone else), but it's pretty decent chicken if not pastured.

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#4 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 06:40 AM
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We are on a very tight budget (students) and *at least* 80% of our income after rent goes to food. Because of this we have faced precisely this problem!

Nowadays we mostly don't eat any meat besides lamb (not organic, but from a good source so not CAFO) and occasional organic beef (here that means it has eaten grass in the summer and grain/hay in the winter and the last few months of its life). Also occasional wild-caught fish. We don't eat chicken at all anymore because non-pastured chickens, even organic, are almost uniformly raised in horrific conditions and we can't afford the pastured ones. Apparently in the US the only difference between "organic" and "conventional" poultry is that the organic has had an organic diet. They still grow up and are slaughtered in appalling conditions. Of course I'm sure it depends on the individual farms, but I personally will not eat non-pastured poultry anymore because the great majority (like 99% in the US) of it comes from factory farms. As for pork, we mostly don't eat that either because we don't have access to pastured. Not only does that affect the quality too much for us to justify buying it, but we feel that pigs are so intelligent that raising them in any conditions but pasture is wrong.

Until quite recently we were getting slacker with our meat choices, mostly due to the budget and convenience. Then I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Zoer. I would highly recommend it. The author is vegetarian himself but doesn't condemn meat eating. His book explores ethical and environmental issues around eating and raising meat animals, and devotes a large portion to describing factory farms and slaughterhouses. Absolutely horrifying in every way. He also describes small family farms that raise happy, healthy animals as well as small family-run slaughterhouses that kill meat animals more humanely, and then goes on to explain how factory farms are constantly running these small enterprises out of business. Not only that, but the "organic" label means very little for most meat, so if you can't buy it from a small farm/pastured it's probably factory farmed at least to some extent.

I suppose I knew all this already, but somehow being presented with it in such a clear and non-ideological way made me reconsider my food choices. I'm certainly going to continue eating meat, because it helps me be healthy and I don't think it's inherently wrong. But I think for my personal integrity I need to limit my choices to only what I know is not causing a mountain of social, ethical, and environmental problems, and unfortunately that weeds out a lot of the choices, particularly in the US (I live in Europe, where it's not quite as bad but still going in that direction). If it means that my budget can't include the variety and quantity of meat that I would like, I have to accept that, not just buy some of my meat from less good sources.

Anyway, I'm really not trying to moralize, just trying to explain what has gone into my own decisions in similar circumstances. If I were going to continue eating all kinds of meat but couldn't afford the best sources for all of them, I would definitely prioritize poultry and pork as those seem to have the worst problems in conventional production. Beef and lamb, even in the States, mostly spend a lot of their lives on pasture even when they are conventional (if I understand correctly) and just go to feedlots in the end of their lives to be fattened up on grain. Still bad, but not as bad as a pig that eats nothing but soy (even if it is organic) and never sees the sun.

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#5 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 06:43 AM
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I'm not TF, so this is probably not what you're looking for, but i'd cut the most expensive per kilo. For us (non TF but eating grass-fed organic meats) that would be lamb. Unless you have the money/space to buy a whole one it's just the most expensive meat.
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#6 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 08:15 AM
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I am not TF either, but I would cut out beef and lamb and continue to get the pork and chicken that is raised ethically and allowed to eat a natural diet. I say this because the beef and lamb are the most expensive of the meats generally.

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#7 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 08:50 AM
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I would try to keep the chicken org at all costs. The beef and lamb I would be the least concerned about as usually it isn't put on grain until the end anyway.

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#8 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 10:05 AM
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Wow, what a great range of responses! We've been in this situation before, and what I've done is buy only grass-fed ground beef. That was really the only meat we ate, and we ate a lot of it. It goes for about $5 a pound here, and I can stretch a pound really far, so that it's feeding us for a couple of meals. I can't do the same with a pound of chicken, even though it goes for less. Also, beef seems more nutritive for our bodies, just anecdotally in our family.

In addition to the ground beef, I bought pastured chicken backs, which go for about $1 a pound here. I made stock out of those, and picked the usable chicken out to use in a meal.

That was what we did, and felt very well nourished!

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#9 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 01:24 PM
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I'd probably dropped pastured local pork. I think beef and chicken is more versatile, so I'd rather focus my money there. I mostly buy ground beef and soup bones, we raise our own chickens (though I've only got a couple from our last butchering left so I need to buy some from a local amish farmer ot get through winter).
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#10 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 01:40 PM
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Number one thing would be increase hunting and fishing. Then buy whole chickens and cut them up ourselves, which we already do. Cut back on meat in general but specifically beef as it tends to be more expensive per pound from my sources. We grind our own meat, when we need it, I refuse to buy pre-ground meats.
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#11 of 15 Old 09-24-2010, 01:50 PM
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Keep in mind that according to NT, you can reduce the amount of meat in your diet by consuming bone broth and/or gelatin with it, because it has a protein-sparing effect.

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#12 of 15 Old 09-27-2010, 02:03 PM
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I would get a lot of soup bones from the good sources, and make a lot of broth and stews, being sure to scrape as much of the meat off as I could. I would also ask around and see if I could put in some hours at a local farm, maybe with a CSA, where I could maybe barter for a chicken. We can get a ground quarter of a beef for pretty cheap from our super wonderful producer, I think it is only like $2.50 a pound bought in bulk like that. I would absolutely not not not eat conventional pork. I would cut back a lot of other things before I cut back on my meat budget, like every single thing that wasn't essential. I would rather have clean meat than a cell phone. Easy for me to say now though, I guess!
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#13 of 15 Old 09-27-2010, 02:56 PM
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I would try switching to only cheaper cuts of your good meat. Is this an option? No steaks, just ground beef for example. Oxtail is v cheap here too. Only whole chickens not portions etc.

And make sure you get bone in cuts and take the bones off peoples plates, stick them in a freezer bag and make broth out of them once there is enough. We basically never buy bones especially for broth. But you probably do this anyway.

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#14 of 15 Old 09-27-2010, 05:26 PM
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Can i recommend skirt? That's diaphragm (cow) for those who don't know. It makes AMAZING stew and is very economical, financially. It can even be cooked and eaten as steak if you slow-cook it (leave it cut into a steak shape rather than into chunks, i use a slow-cooker to cook them, stacked with potato diced between layers, for about a day or so). Mmmm. Very nice. Also other bits and bobs like heart, liver etc. can be cheap and go a long long way.
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#15 of 15 Old 09-28-2010, 11:23 AM
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subbing, living through this dilemma too. I'm cooking for 6 adults and 2 kids, so I can buy larger cuts whole and cook them. We are hoping to get to a point where we can buy bulk, but we are about a year or 2 from that.

My mil still keeps buying conventional meat I haven't been able to get her to switch over, so I cook what she buys and cry inside.
I am hoping to be able to use this thread to convince her (not likely, she blocks out what she doesn't want to deal with) or help direct towards cheaper cuts to make it easier to shop with her form the dollar perspective.

I've read about skirt other places, I think I will try that! I already do bone broths & stuff like that, add Jensen gelatin to lots of my meals.

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