The Hamburglar: A Quest for Ethically, Locally Sourced Beef


Hamburger comes from cows. You may say, “no duh Monk-Monk!,” but what I mean is…hamburger comes from dairy cows. You know, the cows that give birth, have their calves taken away and then are milked to death retirement. Instead of sending them to a pastured golf-course with a pension and a “hey thanks for contributing so much of your life to our great dairy industry,” they are slaughtered. Useless old hags that can’t put it out anymore and so they’re disposed of as garbage in the machine that they’ve lived their whole life in.

Um.

Ugh.

I have such a visceral reaction to this new news because hamburger is our go-to meat. While we occasionally indulge in a steak (Daniel’s Broiler anyone? YUM!), as far as red meat goes, hamburger tops the list. I grew up eating spaghetti for probably 7 meals a day, so it’s a hard habit to break. But now I’m in this ethically torn place of squickiness…If I’m going to give up dairy because of its separation of dam/calf, then how, at the end of that dam’s life, consume her? Won’t THAT be contributing to the dairy industry in a sad, roundabout way?

Only one thing to do: research. Can I find an alternative to this, so if I am still on a quest toward ethical omnivority (is that even a word?), then maybe I need some more information.

My frantic google searches have managed to find aproximately ONE GAZILLION family owned farms  in Washington State that sell full, 1/2 or 1/4 of grass raised, loved on beef that are slaughtered on-site in as humane of a fashion as possible. SUHWEET (except most places are in Eastern Washington or tiny little far-away-hick-towns like Duvall…or Enumclaw), but I was on a mission. I will do this by golly. I will buy a local cow and know that I am contributing to its life and death, but also knowing that it has had the most humane life and death possible.

But…

Well…

Conversations with Boof led me to realize that the investment of buying 1/2 (or even 1/4) a cow, right now (at 1600-3200$) is probably not the most financially stable thing…since he started his new (temporary) job aproximately 27 hours ago. And there needed to a deposit now, but slaughter doesn’t actually happen until October, so it’s like we’d still end up with 6 months of random eating until we got Bessie/Bob the cow from local-hick-town-farm.

The pressure to make this decision right-now-because-if-we-don’t-we-won’t-get-a-cow-until-2014-and-that’s-too-long-to-keep-hurting-the-environment panic of a slightly neurotic woman. But, after all of my ramblings around the interwebz, I realized that…we don’t actually eat all that much beef and if I were to buy a cow, right now, I would actually be eating MORE meat than before.

Whoa.

That was sort of a trippy thought, that in my effort to consume less factory farm meat, I would actually end up consuming more meat in the long-run (humane or not). Hmm. I had to think about that for a minute, which led me to the decision that we would not be buying a cow, 1/2 cow or 1/4 cow this year.

In my late-night trippings through google and eatwild.com and other various websites, I found this local(ish) place that sells hamburger, year round, from the SAME cows that are raised on their farm for 1/2 or 1/4 cow purchase. These cows are grass fed, slaughtered on-site and it’s a family owned farm that’s been hanging around the area for a good century.

Whoa.

So Potamus and I are taking a field-trip tomorrow to pick up some of this hamburger. In this way I can help a local farm, save a retired dairy cow, and still eat some spaghetti with meat. On my quest for ethical eating, this choice feels right, for now…

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