18 Questions to Ask Your Local Beef Provider

Is your beef local beef?

cow

Listen, I’m not into slaughtering animals. My diet is mostly plant-based and I rarely eat meat. If I do eat meat, I know exactly who killed it and where it came from and what kind of life it had.

So why am I doing this post?

I’m doing this post because I recognize that people like meat. People think meat is a cultural thing and that they’re entitled to eat it. If you want to kill and eat an animal, I’m ok with that.

BUT, it’s HOW you kill the animal that I have a problem with. This is why I only eat meat if I know who killed it and how—aka local beef.

Local beef is great, but before you purchase local beef, you need to figure out a few things. I’ve compiled a list of questions you can and should ask your local beef provider.

 

1. Do you have one location or several?

Best answer: one.

The reason you want to ask this question is because this will be the easiest way for you to determine if you’re dealing with a legit local beef farm or an industrial farm masquerading as a local one. If they tell you they have several locations, that should be a big red flag—aka not local beef.

 

2. How often are the cows outside?

Best answer: always.

You want to ask this question rather than “are they given unlimited access to the pasture” because they could very well be given unlimited access to the pasture, but they may not actually be going into the pasture for whatever reason.

The cows should be outside pretty much all the time when it’s real local beef.

 

3. Do you provide shelter for the cows outside?

Best answer: yes, but they are not contained in this shelter.

If the cows are outside all the time, you want to be sure they have some adequate shelter for inclement weather.

 

4. Do you raise both male and female cows? If so, how do you regulate breeding?

Best answer: yes, we do our own breeding and regulate breeding with castration.

The reason you want this answer is because this way you know they are not bringing in cows from somewhere and that the farm truly is local beef.

 

5. Are the male cows castrated? If so, how? Is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes to the anesthesia!

If they don’t castrate their cows, that’s great. The problem is that most places do, so hoping they’ll say “no” might indicate that they engage in unethical practices to inhibit breeding.

You want them to say that they use local anesthesia and that they simply cut them off. Look up more about these practices to find out why you want them to use anesthesia.

If you speak to the actual farmer and he or she says they do it themselves, that’s even better. That’s true local beef, where the farmer takes care of his cows.

 

6. If the cows get sick, are they treated and how?

Best answer: yes, they are treated.

The farmer should tell you exactly how the local beef cows are treated and if they have an on-site vet that comes as needed.

 

7. How is the pasture maintained?

Best answer: organically.

Chances are your farmer won’t actually say “organically”, they’ll just tell you that they don’t spray the pasture with anything and the cows simply maintain it by grazing. Yay, local beef cows!

 

8. Are the cows purely grass-fed or are they fed supplemental grains?

Best answer: mostly grass fed.

Some farmers feed their local beef cows a bit of supplemental grains to take the “gamey” taste out of the meat like you get with deer or squirrel, but ideally, you’d like the cows to be almost purely grass-fed. Ask what the supplemental grains consist of and if they are genetically modified (corn and soy).

 

9. Any growth hormones used?

Best answer: no.

If a farmer tells you they use growth hormones, you should just hang up right then, unless you want an enlarged prostate, acne, and overweight children. That’s not local beef, peeps.

 

10. Are the cows tagged/branded? If so, is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes.

Sorry, but most farmers will at least ear tag their local beef cows, like the cow you see in the above picture. If they say they brand, you should probably just end the call, because if they are cruel enough to brand an animal, chances are they are not using anesthesia.

NOW. It is time for the slaughter questions. Brace yourself.

 

11. Do you process your own beef?

Best answer: no.

Unfortunately in the United States, if you want to sell your meat, your animals have to be killed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

So chances are if you are buying this local beef meat, it will need to be killed at a slaughterhouse. If they tell you that they process their own beef, it’s technically illegal for you to buy it.

 

12. Where is the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: close.

Have them give you the name of the slaughterhouse and the exact location. Look up how far away it is from the farm. It should be less than an hour away if it’s for local beef.

 

13. How are the cows transported to the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: by me.

If they call a company to come and take the cows, that’s not really local beef and chances are they probably don’t care about the cows and how they are transported. The more details they can give you, the better.

 

14. How many animals does the slaughterhouse kill per day?

Best answer: less than 10.

If this is a really local place, you’ll want them to have minimal slaughtering going on. The more animals they slaughter, the less humane they treat them.

The answer to this question will also tell you how large the slaughterhouse is. If they tell you that they slaughter hundreds of animals per day, this is a commercial slaughterhouse and chances are your cow is not dying humanely.

That’s not local beef for you.

 

15. How do they slaughter the cows?

Best answer: they shoot them with a gun.

This is the better option, as terrible as it sounds, because this means your local beef cows are not getting stunned and tortured before they die.

If the farmer tells you he doesn’t know how the cows die, you can contact the slaughterhouse, but I would most likely end the call. If the farmer doesn’t care how his cows are being killed, what else doesn’t he care about?

You want to make sure the cows are killed quickly and not being dismembered while they are still alive.

 

16. Can I visit the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: yes.

The farmer may not know the answer to this question, and that’s fine. You can always contact the slaughterhouse. But, if he tells you they let people in and that you can go see it, this is great news. You’ll want to confirm with the slaughterhouse though. Commercial slaughterhouses will not let you in there.

 

17. How are you sure that you’re getting your cows back?

Best answer: I’m sure.

The farmer should tell you a detailed process for how he knows he’s getting his cows back, such as he knows the people at the slaughterhouse personally, his meat tastes distinct from all other meats, etc.

If he says he has no idea, then this is not someone who is very informed.

 

18. Can I see the farm?

Best answer: yes.

Any farmer who is proud of his animals and the way he treats them will welcome you to his farm to check out his local beef.

After you ask all these lovely questions, schedule a trip to see both the farm and the slaughterhouse. This is local beef for you! You’ll feel so much better and more conscious purchasing and eating this beef if you know exactly where it came from, how it lived and died, and what it ate. Support humane cow farms!

Is Eating Out Gross?

Is eating out gross? Maybe, maybe not, but you need to be this skeptical when ordering in a restaurant.

It doesn’t matter which restaurant it is when considering is eating out gross.

It could be a fancy expensive restaurant.

It could be Chipotle. At least those people are making your food right in front of you and you can see whether or not they sneeze on it.

But I’m a little less concerned about hygiene and more concerned about the actual food. Some things to consider when considering is eating out gross?

You have no idea what is really in this food

The menu tells you some things that are on the dish, but what about the things that they don’t tell you?

How many times have you ordered something only to have it come out smothered in marinara sauce, which you hate? Infinity times, if you are me.

The restaurant is legally required to share every single ingredient with you if you ask. I went to Panera Bread years ago and couldn’t decide what to order. The friend I was with requested their ingredient and calorie book, which was readily supplied to us. Needless to say, I walked out of there without ordering anything.

But seriously, they could be putting butter in your food if you are dairy intolerant. There could be high fructose corn syrup in your lemonade. There might be artificial flavor (gasp!) in your dessert.

How do you know exactly what’s in there?

There might be hidden scary things in there like MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, or gluten. You have to ask people. Sorry, you have to ask when thinking is eating out gross.

Is The Food Organic?

Needless to say, if you’re ordering in a restaurant, the food is probably not organic. UNLESS the restaurant is an all-organic one or the menu specifies that the ingredients are organic.

Which means you’re eating pesticides and GMOs. Restaurants are probably hesitant to invest in organic because of the crowd they serve—how many people actually care?

(I do!)

Fortunately, it seems like more people are caring more and restaurants are taking notice.

How Was It Prepared?

YOU might hate Teflon, that devil non-stick bastard, but, the chef probably doesn’t.

In fact, he or she probably loves it as it saves time heating up, makes all the food look perfect because it doesn’t stick, and is easy to clean. They also might be washing their dishes with commercial soap that’s been tested on animals, which means there’s probably still some residue on those dishes that they are cooking your food with.

Are they heating up food items in plastic?

Has the cooking oil reached dangerous temperatures?

And has that KNIFE TOUCHED gluten?!

It’s impossible to know these things.

The truth is, you don’t know and you never will unless you storm into the kitchen. So you may never know the answer to is eating out gross. Preparing food at home is cheaper, safer, and more enjoyable (in my humble opinion).

The Cleanliness

Ok, I lied; I am concerned about the hygienic issue. Because when you’re thinking is eating out gross, you’ve got a lot to think about.

Is the kitchen clean? Is the chef clean? Is my waitress drunk and not washing her hands after using the bathroom, and then sneaking a bite of those potatoes I’m about to eat in the above photo?

I don’t know!

And just how often is everything in the kitchen washed and cleaned with sustainable, non-chemical cleaners and natural disinfectants like vinegar? It’s not, ok! It’s just not.

I humbly apologize to those awesome restaurants out there that source locally, purchase organic, and are mostly vegan and gluten-free. You guys are awesome!

Eating at a restaurant and having a limited diet do not mix. More on this next time.

10 Foods You Should Never Eat (Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You)

Let’s have a conversation about foods you should never eat.

Everyone is talking about food these days, it seems. Do this diet, avoid this food. Bash Gwyneth Paltrow for saying she’d rather die than feed her children Cup-A-Noodles.

You agree with her, right?

Besides examining Cup-A-Noodles, let’s look at a few foods that I will, with good reason, advise you to avoid. Here are 10 foods you should never eat.

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Splenda. Equal. Sweet’N Low. Truvia.

Think these are natural? Read the ingredients.

Then look those ingredients up, because you won’t know what they are.

Basically, just avoid anything that says “Sugar-Free”, “Low-Fat”, “Light”, or “Diet”. These products remove sugar or fat but then bulk up on sodium or artificial sweeteners to replace the flavor.

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer and are definitely among the top foods you should never eat. Want something without added sugar? Eat an apple.

2. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Ah, the fun that is GMOs.

This food could be anything from Tostitos (corn and soy are the biggest producers of GMO crops) to cheese.

Why cheese?

Because the cows that you get your milk from are getting GMOs too (they are unnaturally fed corn, which is why they are sick and on antibiotics, which is why YOU will get sick and end up on antibiotics).

GMOs are in almost everything, which makes it hard to put on the list for foods you should never eat.

Genetically modified food is huge in the United States, but don’t let that be your reason to buy it. The DNA of the food is artificially altered and it’s going into your body. Your body has been processing normal, real food for thousands and thousands of years.

Genetically modified food may look like real food, but the fakeness of it will corrupt your body’s health and end up in your baby’s bloodstream.

3. Non-Organic Produce

I do love organic food but don’t quite consider it to be as luscious as the food you grow yourself.

I view it as the lesser of two evils because they’re still using pesticides on it, they just aren’t the same pesticides that they’re using on non-organic food.

Plus, I hate the way non-organic apples look shiny, like some poor girl’s lips in a Cover Girl commercial (can you say animal testing? Someone please tell Taylor Swift that she’s advocating for animal suffering). That’s not natural.

Organic food also tastes better—bananas, apples, spinach, blueberries—and current regulations prohibit GMOs if it’s organic. It’ll spoil sooner, but it tastes like food is supposed to taste and FYI, rotting food is completely natural. You shouldn’t be putting anything into your body that won’t eventually rot.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup

But you love it! Right?

It’s in sodas, candies, ice cream, sweet tea, and bread. And there’s more where that came from.

Not only is this GMO (corn, people!) but it’s also a revamped way of making sugar. Manufacturers can use less high fructose corn syrup than sugar and achieve even more sweetness.

The problem? It’s totally screwing with the way your body processes insulin. Hello, diabetes.

5. Sick Animals

Eating sick animals is as simple as picking up a package of hamburger meat at your local supermarket. So put this on your list of foods to never eat.

Where did it come from?

What kind of life did it live?

Was it sick; was it on drugs or hormones?

And even more importantly, what did it eat?

Because you are what you eat. If you’re picking up meat at the grocery store, even if you’re purchasing organic meat or grass-fed meat, consider what it ate, how it lived and died, and what part you play in it.

Local meat is way better.  But be sure to find out just how local it is before buying.

6. Farmed Fish

Again, this just isn’t natural. This is like a children’s book of “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” Imagine a series of farm animals and your child points to the fish and says, “That one! The fish doesn’t live on a farm!”

Well, now it does, Junior.

Farmed fish is unhealthy. They typically live in small areas with lots of other fish, therefore being prone to disease and bacteria. They are also fed… guess what, GMOs.

In what world did fish ever eat corn?

The world in which fish became one of the things on your list for foods you should never eat. Go fishing and do the dirty work yourself, or, if you don’t have time and are still trying to pack in that omega-3, buy wild fish at the store or market.

7. Sugar

Wow, you’re surprised to find this on here, right?

You’re saying, “But you said to avoid artificial sweeteners, not real sweeteners!”

Relax, my friends. I will introduce you to some alternatives that will be your buddies until you put added sugar on your list of foods to never eat for good.

Refined sugar is in cakes, candies, bread, salad dressings, meats, soups, and countless other things.

Try these other options that are less taxing on your body and health:

  • Agave nectar (sweeter than sugar with a lower glycemic index!)
  • Honey
  • Unrefined sugars like coconut nectar or raw organic sugar
  • Maple syrup (REAL maple syrup, NOT Aunt Jemima! She steered you wrong, girl)

Many people argue that sugar and sugar and our bodies process it the same. I would disagree with this, as apples contain fiber that helps your body absorb it over a period of time. This differs from candy where your body gets an instant sugar high.

Swap out refined sugars for more natural ones until you’re ready to kick added sugar and all its toxic effects for good.

8. Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Preservatives

Your body never ate these in the millions of years since humans have been here, so it has no idea what to do with them.

So these are in the foods-you-should-never-eat pile. Just don’t eat them and save yourself a trip to the toilet.

Examples include vanillin (in Hershey’s chocolate), aspartame (in Light Yoplait Yogurt—I told you about the “light”, people!), and BHT (also used in lighter fluid, and, in your frozen chicken nuggets).

9. Hydrogenated and Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (And Refined Oils)

These oils have been heated up to extreme temperatures so that they resemble a material akin to plastic.

Classic example: the hydrogenated oil in Jif peanut butter.

These oils are not naturally occurring at these temperatures and are not healthy when heated to this point. Stick to natural peanut butter and check your other snacks and processed foods for hydrogenated oils.

Other refined oils such as canola oil are often made from GMO crops as well, something we want to avoid.

They can thicken the blood and do other nasty things to your body. Foods you should never eat, meet Jif!

10. Processed Foods

You totally knew this was coming. If it comes in a box, it’s probably not ok, so these are among the foods you should never eat.

If it won’t rot at some point in the near future, it’s probably not benefitting your health. Stick to the produce section of your grocery store, and if you want to splurge, go for organic fresh fruit or organic dark chocolate.

Or, if you really must, eat healthy 90% of the time and then have your damn Cup-A-Noodles on the side.

Eating healthy is not that hard. Yes, of course, it’s an adjustment. However, it’s an adjustment that’s a huge investment to your health and will make you feel better. You’ll also be supporting a healthier planet and world by not buying toxic substances and then putting them into your body. Happy eating! 🙂