The words “sustainable” and “local” have been thrown around a lot these days. With the great awareness put forth in what goes into our bodies and what larger corporation meat packing companies are capable of, we SHOULD be throwing around these words. This however isn’t a behavior that is different from the past and isn’t a new concept. Talking with my elders aka dad, I learned about how they used to buy meat.
“When I was growing up, yes we had our own chickens but my mother would go to the market and buy the most intact piece of meat and also whatever what was on sale.”
Now this wouldn’t seem as revolutionary as one might think but it still holds true today.
The first point taken about buying meat or poultry whole will very often save a person the most amount of money. Take for instance a whole chicken. You have 2 drum sticks, 2 full wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts, a liver, and a full carcass for which to cook down for chicken stock or broth for a soup. A whole chicken could cost you around 7-11 dollars depending on how large it is, but clearly this could feed a family or a person for awhile. Now if we take those parts consumed, I don’t even have to go down the list to see that after about 2 breasts and 2 drumsticks we are already over that value.
I think the part that gets people from doing this is two things, 1) No education about disassembling the bird 2) Time. This is truly depressing too because we had this part of life when it came to prep down but our over exertions of what life is now like, we lost the simplistic matter of having to cut put whole animals. The other point with education on cutting is true. What course, school or otherwise has taught you how to cut apart a chicken or even a beef loin? Unless your mother insisted on this or had an obscure summer job as a line cook, I believe no one has had the experience. I personally only took on this idea of cutting a full chicken when I was living in my apartment after college. This should be more of a prominent thing taught in school. Yes we had home economics but I highly doubt it still exists and nothing in the high school level. I learned most of what I did from cooking, obviously by watching my parents but also by myself. With our busy lifestyles, the amount of time to experiment like this or spend say anymore than 20 minutes on dinner seems to be the culprit.
The second point about buying what is on sale was more of an issue I think with survival. Back then I don’t believe as much was flowing to the middle class of America and I’m guessing that finding the best way to feed a family of 5 was to buy everything whenever possible on sale or even more obscure cuts of meat. Mothers took what they had or got from the market and made as much as they could with it. This too I believe has been lost in our growing society. A simple question to yourself that would prove this point is, “When was the last time you went to a butcher and asked what the special was?” I’m guessing the large percentage are first saying, “I don’t have a butcher”. I think with supermarkets it’s true. The butcher is usually hidden and not easily accessible. The smaller meat markets still exist in your town if you seek them out but the likelihood that a person now, with all the time they don’t have, would make two different location trips would be hard. Back then they had a place for everything, everything was specialized. If you look at cities and the idea of buying local today, that craft or artisan food is now prosperous again.
I want to see my generation learn. I want them to try out new meats and new techniques. I want them to use the time of cooking dinner as a time to relax and focus on what amazing things they could make and how to save money by also exploring what kind of meat is out there.
What I challenge everyone is to buy poultry, fish, or meat from a butcher and talk to him/her about what is on special or is good that day.
You will not be let down.