Slow meat: Eat less, eat bet­ter

Regina Leader-Post - - Weekender - RANDY SHORE Le­mon Grass Chicken Curry is a de­li­cious slow meat dish. (Left) Ju­lia Smith of Ur­ban Digs Farm in South Burn­aby, B.C., says or­ganic meat tastes bet­ter be­cause the an­i­mals live longer and are able to move around out­doors.

Slow meat takes com­mit­ment — to or­ganic prin­ci­ples, to sus­tain­abil­ity, to treat­ing an­i­mals eth­i­cally and to slow­ing your own life down enough to en­joy food again.

You are also go­ing to pay more to eat less meat, but devo­tees say you might not care.

“Once peo­ple make a de­ci­sion to eat her­itage pork, grass-fed beef or or­ganic chicken, they don’t tend to go back to fac­tory farmed meat,” said farmer and fledg­ling butcher Ju­lia Smith.

“The meat is denser, more flavour­ful, it has health­ier fats. It’s not even the same prod­uct. It should re­ally have a dif­fer­ent name.”

A grow­ing body of re­search sug­gests the com­po­si­tion of fats and choles­terol in pas­tured chicken and grass-fed beef is dif­fer­ent and prob­a­bly bet­ter for you than reg­u­lar fare.

Even lard — the most vil­i­fied of fats — is mak­ing a come­back as re­cent stud­ies can’t seem to link it to heart dis­ease af­ter all.

While the or­ganic and lo­cal food revo­lu­tion is fully ig­nited, the slow meat mili­tia is still fum­bling with its lighter.

Slow food­ists re­gard most in­dus­trial-scale meat pro­duc­tion as en­vi­ron­men­tally un­sus­tain­able, cul­tur­ally de­struc­tive and in­hu­mane.

Smith started her young ca­reer as a farmer grow­ing veg­eta­bles along­side ide­al­is­tic and am­bi­tious women who are try­ing to rein­vent farm­ing at a hu­man scale, of­ten in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.

But she and her ro­man­tic part­ner, Ludo Fer­rari, are now fo­cused on rais­ing her­itage-breed pigs at Ur­ban Digs Farm in South Burn­aby, B.C.

They also of­fer cus­tom but cher­ing ser­vices for small pro­duc­ers like them­selves at the Van­cou­ver butcher shop they pur­chased with busi­ness part­ner Rory Hol­land, a “slow money” in­vestor who sup­ports sus­tain­able and ar­ti­sanal en­ter­prises.

Con­ven­tion­ally raised pigs usu­ally live their en­tire lives in dimly lit barns, while breed­ing sows are typ­i­cally con­fined to crates.

The pigs at Ur­ban Digs are raised out­doors where they root and muck and snort all day long, while re­ceiv­ing visi­tors to the South Burn­aby far­m­gate store.

“The rest of the lo­cal food move­ment is com­pletely fo­cused on mar­ket veg­eta­bles, but I re­ally be­lieve meat is the next thing,” said Smith.

“From an en­vi­ron­men­tal stand­point, we just can’t all keep eat­ing so much meat. We need to eat less meat, but bet­ter.”

Pas­tured meat can cost any­where from 50 to 100 per cent more than con­ven­tion­ally raised meat, so it pays to re­duce por­tion sizes.

“Pigs and chick­ens that can run around burn calo­ries that an­i­mals in con­fined con­di­tions don’t,” said Smith.

“It takes more time and more feed for them to reach mar­ket weight, so you are get­ting an an­i­mal that is older and that has used its mus­cles. That’s why there is so much more flavour.”

Smith’s pigs eat “qual­ity waste prod­ucts,” such as spent grain from craft brew­eries, cast-off or­ganic veg­gies and out­dated bread and they drink whey left over from cheese­mak­ing.

Here’s a slow meat recipe:

RANDY SHORE/Van­cou­ver Sun

Ju­lia Smith

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