on eating meaty


This is Jake Dickson.

He’s Zoe’s boss over at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market, and a recent subject for a profile I’m writing for my food journalism class. I had a really wonderful time taking a tour of his store and becoming an enlightened meat consumer, and want to tell you guys about it. After recently reading Michael Pollen and looking into Jonathan Safron Foer’s new book, Eating Animals, I’ve been struggling with the ethics behind eating meat. Although we mostly eat vegetarian at this apartment, I really, really truly love eating meat. Jake took me back to the meat freezer and with the smell of the meat and the spices, all concentrated within a very small space, I was convinced that Heaven would be a freezer, and that I would be happy to spend eternity here, assuming I had a very warm jacket and means to actually eat all this meat. Anyway. I digress.

The meat industry is a veiled one; many people simply do not know, or care to know, where their meat comes from. “As long as it tastes good,” is a quote I’ve heard before, and probably have said myself. But looking into the meat industry, it is very hard to turn a blind eye. Not only are animals kept in crowded quarters, living in their own filth, they are pumped up with antibiotics, hormones and corn and killed as soon as they’ve reached their early maturity. It’s ridiculous that I can walk into any supermarket and have no clue where my meat has come from and what’s really gone into its production. It’s also ridiculous that many Americans, with a lack of supermarkets in their own neighborhoods (known as food deserts) depend on fast food meat for their daily sources of protein. With all the recent talk of health care reform, and the tricky politics behind it, I wonder why more people aren’t focusing on what’s making us unhealthy in the first place. The reason for the rise in diabetes, heart disease and obesity are simple: they are the effects of a diet dominated by the industrial farm industry, whose main concern isn’t our health, but the money they make off the consumer.

People like Jake make me more hopeful. All of his meat is sourced from small, local farms no more than 400 miles away, who raise their animals humanely, never in feed lots or given antibiotics or hormones. We talked about the differences between grass and grain fed beef, and the myth that all grass fed beef is actually better quality or healthier. (Grain fed beef, if raised with a balanced diet, is still a very healthy diet for the cows.) His main goal is to educate his customers, and he wants everything about his business to feel approachable and transparent. His butchers hang the meat in view of the customers, and he said many of his customers had no idea what their meat even looked liked before it was butchered.

Best of all, he made me feel like I could sustain a meat-eating diet I feel comfortable… even great… about. Jake doesn’t advocate eating meat every day, he said that meat should be bought to be made into a real meal, and not wasted through fast food, or empty calories. Leaving the interview feeling happy and hungry, I returned home with the goods to satisfy my craving. As soon as I walked in the door of the apartment, I told Zoe: “We’re making hamburgers.”

And hamburgers we did make. Afterward, sprawled out on the couch, with empty plates and full full stomachs, Zoe said it best with a, “Man, I really needed that.” The beef was from the Wrighteous Organics Farm, 175 miles away, and mixed with a clove of garlic, some onions, salt and pepper, it was GOOD. Meaty and good.

But because I was so anxious to eat my hamburger and didn’t want to waste time taking pictures, I made some more meat tonight for a recipe to end this post. I don’t really want to become a queen of the simplest recipies on this blog, but I’m going to give you another simple sandwich recipe. I started making this one after ordering it at a restaurant, paying 10 dollars for it, and recognizing the utter robbery of said act.

Just a full avocado, some melted cheddar (I used Trader Joe’s raw milk cheddar, a really nice mellow flavor) and if you’d like, bacon. I usually eat it without, and the sandwich I got at this restaurant didn’t even offer it with any meat. (10 dollars for bread, avocado, and cheese? Please!)  But, the bacon Jake gave me was pretty wonderful, a very rich and smoky taste that added a perfect touch.

Go visit Jake and Zoe at Dickson’s Farmstand, if not to buy, then just to talk about what they’re doing over there. And remember: it’s not crazy to want to know what you’re putting into your body. And it’s certainly not impossible to be a conscious meat eater. Hooray!


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3 Responses to “on eating meaty”

  1. Brigid Says:

    Yay Emily I love your blog! So interesting/fun/yummy.

  2. brunching at 111 « The Cooks and the Curious Says:

    […] I woke up early and started prepping—mushroom omelette, curried potato hash, some meat chili from Jake’s in keeping with superbowl tradition, a green salad, a fennel-semolina loaf of broad and some rye […]

  3. Mokys Says:

    Hi I just wanted to leave a comment to say that I enjoy your blog.

    Looking at the number of comments, I see others feel the same way! Congratulations on a very popular site.

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