As some of you may know by now, I'm an extreme animal lover. I irritated The Brad many years ago during our honeymoon in Hawaii because every time we would drive by a field of cows, I would want to stop and hang out with them for a few moments. "Do you really want to spend all of our honeymoon with cows?" he would ask. To which I would would answer, "not all of it!"
I was a vegetarian off and on as a young woman and also a vegan for a while. But, the truth was, unfortunately to me, I always felt stronger physically when I ate a little weekly portion of meat. When the organic bandwagon came along, I felt a little better about eating small servings of meat. But then I found out from a blogging friend that, apart from small feeding differences, and unless otherwise labeled: organic meat is raised and slaughtered in the same way as commercial meat. And I don't need to enlighten you there.
The dairy business is no better. Generic "organic" milk, butter and eggs from the local chain supermarket is hardly different than the commercial brand. The FDA definition of "free-range" is a bunch of crap (you can do your own research there). Even Trader Joes, whose organic line was my dairy brand for years, offers little improvement.
I now pay more bucks for organic milk, butter and cream that comes from pasture raised cows and I try to always get cheese from the local farmers market. While meat is something I can only take in small amounts, I do really appreciate fresh dairy products. I have this thing about cows. I'd love to share in the responsibility of a milking cow one day and let her roam in open green pastures. But until that dream comes true, I'll support farmers who do that very thing.
We have our own egg-laying hens and buy small weekly portions of chicken (and sometimes pasture-raised beef) at the local farmers market where it costs twice (and sometimes more) the price of commercial meat. I paid a nice price for a farmers market chicken yesterday. But, I know that chicken was raised in a way that I can tolerate and I get several meals out of it for a family of four. I make a roast chicken (which The Brad and the kids will eat during the week) and a delicious, highly nourishing broth from the carcass which we all drink throughout the week.
Every single ounce of wonderful nutrient and nourishment I can get from that chicken, I take. And I take it with love and appreciation. I take it with sadness too, knowing the chicken didn't choose to give its life but that it was taken anyway. We hope someday, when we have more land, to raise our own meat chickens. Because to me, that is what seems to be the only truly conscious way to eat meat.
So, yeah. I spend a little more on meat and dairy products. I guess it's my splurge. Maybe someday enough people will see the difference and green pastured farms will be the new "commercial." The Brad says never. But, a girl can dream. And in the meantime, I'm following my heart. Which is really all a girl can do.
Here's a link to a great dairy survey so that, if you are interested, you can find out how your dairy products are scoring. This is a few years old, but most of the companies are still in service. Happy to hear your comments and thoughts, ideas and discoveries on the subject if you feel like sharing.