View Full Version : Being a more responsible meat-eater

04-30-2007, 04:55 PM
My wife and I love animals and though we've long been "aware" of the absolutely horrible conditions many chickens, pigs, cows, etc. are subjected to on the way to our dinner plate, it's only been recently that we've decided to make some lifestyle decisions to put our own personal morals where our mouths are.

She is going to try to give up meat altogether. That's just fine. But personally, I can't do it. I really love cooking, and just about everything I make at home (for lunch, dinner, you name it) centers around meat. So I'm not giving it up (which she's fine with), but I do want to make more informed, conscientious choices about the hows and wheres to buy meat products that have more humane and environementally-friendly origins (I suspect that it'll probably be healthier in the long run, too).

I know this will cost more money. That's fine--I don't need to eat anything particularly extravagent, but I accept that such a decision will make even simple choices more expensive (and probably more inconvenient since Safeway/Costco/etc. are presumably "out" as options, now).

So, for those Dopers who've also taken a similar path, where do you go to buy? Any "name brands" that are reputable (with additional points if they're relatively accessible or particularly tasty)? Any "alternative" store chains you live by? Do you buy online? I live in the SF Bay Area, so any local preferences are also most welcome.

Please note: This isn't designed to elicit pro-veggie debating or anti-PETA pitting. I'm just looking for help or suggestions amongst the masses here who have some experience in this area.

Thanks! :)

04-30-2007, 05:09 PM
Trader Joe's seems to have a pretty good selection. However, if you've never been to the Berkeley Bowl, you have to check it out. I guarantee you'll be hooked. It's one of the things I miss most about living in the Bay Area.


Cat Whisperer
04-30-2007, 05:29 PM
I was thinking about just this subject today (instigated by the PETA Pit thread). I tried to do a little Googling to see where Safeway stands on this, and according to their website (http://shop.safeway.com/corporate/safeway/animal_welfare.asp), they have strict guidelines for the meat they buy. From their site:The company has developed a comprehensive animal welfare program to ensure that both its national brand and private label suppliers have programs in place standard for the humane treatment of animals in all aspects of animal husbandry, shipment, and handling during the harvest process.
Funnily enough, however, I don't trust a megacorp to be completely honest with me. Also, Safeway's standard for humane treatment may not measure up to MY standard for humane treatment. I would also like to get more information on this.

We have excellent farmer's markets with all kinds of local ranch meat available (living in the middle of ranch country definitely has its benefits!), but they have limited hours and they are across the city from me, so sticking with Safeway for most meat purchases would be my ideal.

John Carter of Mars
04-30-2007, 05:42 PM
"aware" of the absolutely horrible conditions many chickens, pigs, cows, etc. are subjected to on the way to our dinner plate

Don't fall for the scare tactics of PETA and similar organizations. As a general rule, animals that are comfortable and well cared for are more productive, grow faster and are thus more profitable.

The old "milk from contented cows" commercial wasn't far from the mark. It's in the best interest of the grower to have healthy, comfortable, animals.

Anne Neville
04-30-2007, 05:42 PM
If you eat fish or seafood, Monterey Bay Aquarium puts out a seafood watch card (http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.asp), which tells you which fish and shellfish are sustainably caught or farmed and which aren't.

I keep kosher, so I avoid all shellfish. But even if I didn't keep kosher, I think I might stop eating at least some shellfish, because they're boiled alive (which I think is cruel). I certainly wouldn't eat anything that was alive when I ate it.

Niman Ranch (http://www.nimanranch.com/control/main/) is a local company that raises their livestock traditionally, humanely, and sustainably. They sell meat online, and Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (as well as some other stores in the Bay Area) carry Niman Ranch meat.

Get a good vegetarian cookbook and try some vegetarian recipes. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, while not a vegetarian cookbook, does have a lot of good vegetarian recipes. The Moosewood cookbooks have a lot of vegetarian or fish dishes, and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a good vegetarian cookbook.

04-30-2007, 05:48 PM
IIRC, Niman Ranch is the only meat producer that Chez Panisse uses, and they are pretty particular, to say the least.

04-30-2007, 05:54 PM
Nope, I was wrong. A look at their latest menu shows them using a number of different ranches nowadays.

04-30-2007, 08:35 PM
ArchiveGuy, here is a September 06 article (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/09/20/FDG7LL5N221.DTL) about buying a quarter of beef straight from a farmer. That is quite a bit to store unless you have a freezer- but maybe you have friends or family members that would half the meat with you.