Meat: An Education

For those that missed August’s event at Brooklyn Kitchen we had a lively discussion among the four panelists and Tasting Table moderator, Jamie Feldmar about the State of Meat in NY. While there were many revelatory insights about the nuances and challenges in sustainable farming and meat sourcing that came out of the discussion, one of the biggest consumer call-to-action themes for better understanding the meat they buy and eat, comes down to one key thing – the label.

When you go to the butcher, the supermarket or a restaurant and see words such as “organic” or “no antibiotics” or “all natural” to describe the meat you’re about to buy or eat, you expect a higher level of quality in both the sourcing and the processing of that meat, right?

And it’s true that sustainably run farms deliver us meat that is distinctively better tasting and we literally get more ‘bang for our buck’ with each and every bite. And yes, this meat is more expensive to procure but when you are nourishing your body isn’t ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’ a good rule of thumb?

Did you know you could actually help support more sustainable farmers bring quality meats to a market near you by buying less meat – but focusing that meat spend on only quality meats sourced from sustainably managed farms, whether they are within 100 miles, or 1000 miles. The key is, how is that farmer – or group of farmers – raising their animals. To eliminate the industrial agricultural model, we have to accept and support that sustainably raised foods of all types must cost more. Sustainable is not truly sustainable unless the farmer can afford to live on the land.

At DeBragga, we’ve long believed in the power of transparent information for the trade and consumers alike to make informed decisions about the meat they buy and serve.  This commitment to excellence enabled us to become the sole New York City-based distributor for “Certified Angus Beef” in 1982, which was one of the original branded heritage breed programs under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. This tradition continues still today as DeBragga is building its own local network with grass fed cattle in New York State, and raising its own heritage breed hogs with Amish farmers – Gloucester Old Spots, the rarest breed in America – and pure blood Berkshires. We also work with “local” networks of farmers around the country who share the ideal of protecting the land, respecting the animal, and earning a fair wage for their efforts. In some cases, the carbon footprint of working with a cooperative seven states away can be far less.

We invite you to help us keep the State of Meat in NY discussion alive and join us in this Meat education and information revolution. Our goal is to support a sustainable farming industry that can grow and flourish in the U.S., once again giving consumers the power of choice and better access to the best quality meats for themselves and those they love.

George Faison

DeBragga Meats