It’s me, Adam and today I would like to discuss with you the topic of meat. This past weekend I found myself at the local butcher shop with my dad and two brothers. Earlier in the month he had gotten a bison butchered for meat and the time came to make brats. Like most other sources of meat we eat, we usually take part in the processing. Bison, being much larger than the chickens we raise or deer we shoot, means the butchering and most of the processing gets done at the local butcher shop. But, because the butcher shop is owned by my dad’s cousin, we get the joy of helping out when it comes to things like making the brats.
The process consists of a few simple steps.
We start by grinding the meat:
Then we mix in the seasonings and cider:
Followed by filling the casings:
We finish by twisting, cutting, and bagging the brats:
And here we go, brats!
When we make brats, we like to keep them simple and pure, no added pork or pork fat, just seasoning and one of our favorite wines or ciders to add the needed moisture. A bit of back story to help explain our family butchering a whole bison, my dad used to raise bison back in the day when he was a farmer and now he just has connections.
But enough about bison, because we don’t eat just bison.
On to a few of the more common and affordable options, like chicken, venison, and pork. Usually every spring/summer my parents raise enough chickens to supply our whole family with meat for the year. When the chickens are fully grown we (the sons and daughter-in-laws) are the butchers, and we skin and gut the birds before putting them in the freezer. Our birds get skinned to save time and the extra investment into additional equipment. Then in the fall, we all sit out in the woods in the hope of shooting a deer. When we do get a deer or two, we again are the butchers, and we skin, cut, grind, and freeze all the meat. And when winter rolls around, there is always that pot of split pea soup that must get made. Jenn and I buy most of our pork from our friends down at the farmers market, but, there is the occasional 1/2 pound of bacon or 1/2 dozen brats that we buy at the local meat market. All of our meat comes from the land we live on, the friends we know, or is made just down the street.
Is the bison grass-fed? Is the chicken certified organic? Is the pork kosher? No, mostly likely not. We do not buy organic feed for the chickens, but they always do have bugs and grubs to eat in the grass outside their coop. The bison probably will get a bail of hay in the winter or some supplemental grain, but most of the time they are out in the pasture. The deer for sure eat the corn and soybeans in the neighbor’s fields that are most likely gmo’s, but they are definitely the most local source of meat we eat. And pork, well no (because clearly pork cannot be kosher), but if its not a pastured ham hoch or pork chop from the farmers market, it’s mixed or smoked just a few blocks from our home. Ideally it all would be organic and humanely raised, but for more reasons than I can explain, that just isn’t always the case. So we do the best we can do, being mindful of the of the meat we eat, the animals it came from, and the earth they live on. As for fish, we do love eating it, but we haven’t quit figured this one out yet.
As for the apparent lack of beef in our diet, well I just didn’t really eat beef when growing up. We had no need to eat beef. Now I’m not saying that beef is bad, or even that you shouldn’t eat meat (although we must keep in mind that 1lb of meat does take significantly greater amounts of land, water, and fossil fuels to grow than 1lb of vegetables). What I would simply like to say is that we, as stewards of this earth, should be more mindful of the meat we eat, where it comes from, and how those animals were raised. Yes, I do understand that not all of us have the privilage of sourcing their meat the way Jenn and I do, but I do believe that if one is intentional, they can and will find a more humane and healthy meat to buy.