“Happy Meat”- A Youth’s Perspective

by firsthandfoods on August 26, 2014

This summer I did an internship at Firsthand Foods. Most kids are pretty excited about their first internship, but for me, it was just coming to work with my mom twice a week. While I was there, I worked on organizing four years worth of photographs, updating the Firsthand Foods’ website, packing and delivering (M)eat Local Boxes and reading The Omnivore’s Dilemna by Michael Pollan. I got to ride along on a farm visit in Granville County and participate in a sales call to UNC School of the Arts, which is now a Firsthand Foods’ customer.

Carly BellOut of all the tasks I was assigned, my favorite by far was packing the meat boxes. I loved doing something other than working on the computer or reading a book. Instead, I had a hands-on experience packing meat! How cool is that? Despite the 36-degree cold temperatures inside their walk-in cooler, I thoroughly enjoyed putting on a big puffy jacket, gloves and a hat, making and packing the boxes and learning how to identify different cuts of meat. Then on delivery day, (M)eat Box customers would arrive and ask all these questions about what types of pork and beef we were offering that day and they would just talk about how delicious the brisket was they had last week. It felt so good to be a part of this system in which all these customers could enjoy my handiwork. It was a wonderful feeling to be confident in the quality of the product we were selling, and to see it pass from my hands to theirs, knowing that in a few weeks they would be back, recounting the stories of how they cooked and created a delicious meal with what we provided.

When I was younger, I used to want to grow up and own a farm with lots of animals, including cats and dogs. I don’t know when that idea faded away, but I think it might have been when I realized how much work a farm would be.  And working here made that reality even clearer.  But I do think it is very important to support our farmers and to buy meat from businesses like Firsthand Foods. I am very grateful to have grown up eating local, pasture-raised meats because I have learned to appreciate the importance of eating “happy” meat and knowing where my food comes from.  Plus it is awesome and delicious.  Firsthand Foods’ meats have such a rich flavor compared to the stuff you can get at a fast food restaurant or from the school cafeteria. I particularly love their smoky polish sausage and chorizo. I have grown used to pasture-raised meats now, since it’s all we eat at home, but whenever I go out or to a friends house, I start to see how blessed I have been.

Several of my friends have recently made the decision to become vegetarians because they don’t want to support the industrial food system or buy and consume meat that was treated poorly.  I support their choice and am glad that they have learned enough about current issues to know that kind of meat is unhealthy for our bodies, the environment and for the animals themselves.  But not all meat is bad. Some meat is good.  I think its actually important to eat meat that has been raised humanely and had a healthy life on a farm close to home.  I hope that more people who care about these issues will care enough to pay a little extra for the good stuff. So I make the choice to eat meat, but not just any meat: “happy” meat.

 by Carly Bell, Age 15

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