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Cheer up! You don't need meat from away

March 21, 2020
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I promised to tell you how to slice your meat to ensure that it's as tender as possible, and I will. First, however, let's talk about how the world seems to have gone topsy-turvy in the last week. Schools are closed, events are canceled, and toilet paper is sold out. While the world buzzes with Covid-19 caution, here on the farm, the cattle still get their hay, and the pigs get their grain. Life on our small farm at the top of a hill has not changed, but so much else has. Maybe it's time to look at how fragile our food system is.

For years, the University of New Hampshire professor John E. Carroll has warned us that our food system is broken. In his book, "The Real Dirt," he says:

  1. New Hampshire produces only 3-4 percent of its food. 
  2. On average, our food travels over 1,500 miles from source to dinner table.
  3. Ninety percent of our food is transported to us by truck.
  4. "Just in time delivery" means we have only three days' supply of food here in New England at any one time.

It's hard to imagine running out of food in three days, but I suppose it could happen. While the current crisis probably won't keep trucks off the road, what if field workers stay home or meat-cutting plants close? Would the trucks have anything to deliver?

Happily, in New Hampshire, we can provide some locally raised meat that is not dependent on cross-country trucking. Over the years, farmers have worked hard to build supplies of beef on the hoof, and you have helped us do it. Every time you buy from a local farm, you've helped a farmer stay in business. You've done your part to strengthen the local network of food sources that can help us all through a crisis.

Now let's talk about slicing it. Take any cut of meat. Find the direction of the grain (which way the muscle fibers are aligned), then slice it thin across the grain rather than parallel with it. This will maximize tenderness.

But no matter how you slice it, locally-raised meat is plentiful and available. If you don't want to venture out, have it delivered. And if you are nervous about food supplies, buy a freezer and half a steer. Your local farmers are here for you.

Check out this listing to find a local farm near you.

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Carole Soule

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