There's a Cow in My Freezer: The Blog

Located near Birney, Montana, the Bones Brothers Ranch, home of Omega Beef, Inc., has been worked by the Alderson family since the late 19th century. Today, Jeanie Alderson and her husband Terry Punt oversee the ranch. They raise purebred, grass-finished Wagyu cattle — the same breed that produces world-famous Kobe beef. I sat down (virtually) with Jeanie to learn about the joys and challenges of keeping family tradition alive.

Although nowhere near as popular as beef or pork in the United States, lamb is both delicious and nutritious — at least, the right lamb is. And, for those with little space to spare, buying lamb in bulk is an excellent option, as the meat from a whole lamb can easily fit inside a standard fridge freezer.

One reason people may be reluctant to buy in bulk is the fear that if the power goes out and their freezer stops running, they’ll lose all that food (and money). When doing the research for There’s a Cow in My Freezer, I’d read that, if kept closed, a reasonably full chest freezer should keep its contents frozen for at least 48–72 hours. It sounded reassuring on paper, but last month I got to see if that’s actually how things work in the real world.

Most people shy away from eating liver, either because the idea of it grosses them out or they had a bad experience with it in the past. But this nutrition-packed organ meat is surprisingly easy to prepare, and there are plenty of options beyond the standard liver and onions. When you buy meat in bulk, liver (and the other organ meats) are a “freebie” for anyone adventurous enough to give it a try.

Tucked up against the North Bridger Mountains in Bozeman, Montana, North Bridger Bison is a family-run ranch founded by Matt and Sarah Skoglund. Here, the bison are an integral part of the history and the beauty of the land. Although the Skoglunds are new to farming, their healthy, delicious, environmentally friendly, and humanely raised bison meat has already made a big impression with customers.

You’ve decided that buying meat by the quarter, half, or whole animal is the way to go; it’s a more traditional way of eating and a great option for saving time and money. But now what? Where do you find a local farmer selling meat this way? People living in more rural areas likely have a general idea of how many farms exist nearby, but many big-city dwellers may have the impression that finding a local farmer to buy from will be difficult. In fact, the opposite is usually true: there are often numerous small-scale farms within a 50-mile radius of large metropolitan areas, simply because the high concentration of people there makes for a large and convenient customer base. No matter where you live, these resources will help you find the farmers and the food you’re looking for.

Located in Delaplane, Virginia, less than an hour away from the nation’s capital, Hidden Creek Farm, LLC is built around the principles of regenerative agriculture. Founders Dendy and Andrea Young believe first and foremost in the stewardship of the land and in the concept that good food and a clean environment will keep people and animals healthy, resilient, and energized. The farm offers beef, pork, lamb, turkey, eggs, produce, honey, and a variety of specialty products to consumers, as well as providing breeding and feeder stock to farmers. The farm also owns and operates Red Polls USA, a group dedicated to breeding Red Poll cattle, a threatened heritage breed with a unique genetic “superpower.”

Although the average person can easily name a dozen or more dog breeds, many consumers don’t realize that the animals we raise for food also come in an array of breeds. To them, a cow is just a cow and a pig is just a pig. But thousands of years of selective breeding have created hundreds of distinct varieties of livestock, each suited to a particular purpose and environment. Thanks to the dominance of industrialized agriculture, however, many of those breeds are disappearing forever, with potentially dire consequences.

Opinions on what a healthy diet should look like vary widely, and even doctors and health organizations can’t agree on a single, optimal meal plan. If you’re reading this, however, you most likely already believe that meat is an important component of human nutrition. It’s full of protein, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and many other important micronutrients.

But what you may not realize is that not all meat is created equal (and we’re not talking about in a “chicken vs. pork” sort of way). How animals are raised can make a big difference. When animals have space and opportunity to behave the way their genetics have programmed them and are able to eat the foods that evolution designed them to eat, they produce higher-quality meat. And that means a healthier meal for you and your family.

If you have a standalone freezer, you know how important it is to keep its contents organized. No one likes having to dig to the bottom of a full chest freezer to find the particular package you were looking for. In addition to keeping your freezer physically organized, it’s very helpful to have a freezer inventory. A freezer inventory is a list of your freezer’s contents that allows you to quickly see what you have without needing to actually open the freezer. If you build it right and keep it up-to-date, it’s a powerful and dynamic tool.

Kookoolan Farms is a family farm in Yamhill, Oregon, run by husband-and-wife team Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor and Koorosh Zaerpoor. Located in the lush Willamette Valley less than an hour from downtown Portland, the farm raises grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as pastured chicken. You’ll find plenty of other goodies at the farmstore, including eggs, sustainably caught seafood, and mead. I sat down with Chrissie (virtually, thanks to covid) to learn more about Kookoolan and what being a small-scale farmer is all about.

Despite its name, pork butt actually comes from the front of the hog. It’s an extremely flavorful cut that just needs a little bit of time in the kitchen to make it melt-in-your-mouth tender.