Monday, July 14, 2008

Meatless Monday

I have been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma -- a very well-written and researched book but a dangerous one for those of us who try to keep grocery costs low. The book would make almost any reasonable person want to stop eating conventionally produced American meat, or at least beef.

The alternatives to eating beef saturated with antibiotics from animals sickened by an improper diet of corn and filthy feedlot life -- seriously, you have got to read this book -- are eating grass-fed animals, going vegetarian, or eating meat but staying away from beef.

Have you seen the prices on grass-fed beef? Honestly, even the cheaply produced conventional corn-fed beef is expensive enough that I usually buy chicken or pork. So in a way my recent inclination to avoid beef in the supermarket is no big sacrifice.

But the upshot of having read this book for me is that at least while the memories are still fresh I'm not inclined to buy as much conventional meat. I'm thinking that my meat-buying pattern may shift from buying several pounds of the cheapest stuff I can get each week to buying one or two pounds of something grass-fed. It doesn't necessarily have to be certified organic, in my opinion, but if an animal is eating grass there probably aren't pesticides and fertilizers involved anyway, right?

Or maybe I will keep buying cheap meat of other varieties and just stop altogether with the conventional beef.

This week at the farmer's market I was able to locate one guy who sells meat for $6 a pound (ground beef), and $8-$9 a pound for lamb stew meat or ground lamb. All the other cuts were way out of range but what else is new.

Now, after months of studying prices and dropping my price threshhold from "anything under $2.50 a pound" to "try for under $1 a pound," paying $6-$9 for the cheapest cuts of meat seems crazy. But I bit the bullet and bought a pound of the ground lamb, and that is probably the only meat I'll buy this week. If we weren't going out of town on Thursday, I would probably buy at least one more pound of something.

So there are a lot more meatless meals at our house lately. Tonight, I made one of my favorites, creamy pasta with chard from the farmer's market. I sauteed the chard (first the stems for a few minutes with onions, then added the leaves along with a cup of wine), made a cheese sauce with mozzerella, and mixed it all up. Quite filling.

Tomorrow night, I'm thinking about something with sweet potatoes and eggs. This page has a lot of ideas. Wednesday night, maybe tuna salad or something. We'll see. Then we're off to BlogHer, and whatever I spend there is a tax deductible business expense. Yeeha!