How to Get Better Gas Mileage


You don’t have to buy a new car to save money on gasoline. Learn how to get the best mpg in your current car with these 12 fuel-efficient driving techniques.

If you want to get better gas mileage and save big bucks at the pump, simply changing your driving habits can improve your miles per gallon by 30 percent or more. To illustrate this point, two General Motors fuel economy engineers each drove an identical 2011 Chevy Cruze on a combined city/highway route, each using a different driving style. The 2011 Cruze has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The engineer who drove aggressively turned in an average of 20.5 mpg, while the engineer who employed fuel-efficient driving techniques delivered an average of 37.4 mpg on the same course. That’s a positive difference of 16.9 mpg due solely to driving style! 

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Tips for Getting Better Gas Mileage

Save money and energy with these no-cost tips to improve your car’s gas mileage. Originally publish…

Many people falsely assume that the vehicle they drive should regularly deliver its official estimated fuel economy rating. The key word here is “estimated.” The city, highway and combined mpg numbers are calculated by running the vehicle through preprogrammed driving cycles on a stationary chassis dynamometer. This test does not completely allow for various human factors, including driving style, as shown by the Cruze example.

This is actually good news: A little bit of human control can go a long way toward meeting or even exceeding a car’s mpg rating. The following 12 fuel-efficient driving techniques are easy to learn and apply. Try these tips for how to get better gas mileage and call upon your competitive spirit to see how much you can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage with each tank.

12 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

1. Light Touch on the Accelerator. Because the accelerator pedal controls how much gasoline or diesel fuel (or electricity, in the case of electric cars) is fed to the engine, it makes sense that a light touch will yield the best mpg. A vehicle is least efficient when it is accelerating, so the trick is to use just enough power to get up to the desired speed quickly enough, without hard acceleration and without prolonging that phase. On the other hand, accelerating too slowly can actually hinder overall gas mileage.

2. Avoid High-Speed Cruising. Wind resistance compounds with speed, meaning high-speed cruising greatly diminishes fuel economy. The threshold for most vehicles at which highway mpg really begins to degrade is at about 60 mph, above which fuel economy drops off at a rapid rate. You can increase mpg by running below the speed limit, but only when it’s feasible and doing so won’t impede traffic or cause other safety issues. Electric cars will see their range drop significantly at higher speeds, so if you feel “range anxiety,” slow down.

Running air conditioning or other engine-powered accessories makes the engine work harder and hurts fuel economy. At slower speeds, roll the windows down to cool off. At higher speeds, however, having the windows down creates aerodynamic problems, so it’s actually better to use air conditioning.

Lessons From the Vegetable Garden


Growing vegetables provides a matchless education for the mere price of some seeds and sweat.

After a recent talk I gave to a Sierra Club chapter, someone asked what I consider to be the most promising evidence of humanity’s interest in sustainability. I’d never been asked that particular question before, but my answer sprang to mind immediately.

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“Vegetable gardening,” I said without hesitation.

There’s a burgeoning interest, around the world, in the cultivation of vegetables for food. We see it in our correspondence, in our research, in the traffic to our website and in the growing volumes of advertising MOTHER EARTH NEWS runs for seed companies and outdoor equipment manufacturers. The spectrum of vegetable gardeners is expanding, from the container gardener nursing three tomato plants on the deck of a townhome to the enthusiast guiding a big rototiller up and down the rows of a half-acre plantation.

Some people make fun of us. They claim we spend more on seeds and tools than we save on groceries. They don’t understand that our time in the garden — up to our elbows in soil, weeds and bugs — can be as valuable as the same time spent with the most expensive therapist on Park Avenue or in Santa Monica’s best spa. It is about the food, but it’s not just about the food. The benefits are felt far beyond the taste buds.

Nature provides us with an incomparable education, and the tuition is free. We get regular reminders of nature’s simple laws and its profound wisdom.

We learn that every living thing has its own idea of paradise. The aphid may find it on the underside of a leaf; the toad in the litter beneath the blackberries; the dung beetle, well, in the dung. Maggots like a dead animal’s carcass. Orioles weave their homes from grass and hang them in trees. Our knowledge of nature’s offerings can extend from the grub worm’s tiny tunnel to the wide open skies where the turkey vultures soar.

We learn that life’s vital balance comes from sacrifice. We may lose some fruit to pests, but if we poison all of the pests, then the beneficial insects never arrive and we’re left with a perpetual bumper crop of the critters that compete for our food. If we poison the mice eating our corn, we may sicken the kestrels that keep them in check.

Healthy Summer Recipes


Homegrown produce profuse but culinary inspiration lacking a bit? Put some of the stars of your summer harvest — cukes, berries, bell peppers, onions, herbs — to delicious work with these tasty, healthy summer recipes.

Clean Start

The following is an excerpt from Clean Start by Terry Walters (Sterling Epicure, 2010). Eating in harmony with what’s in season in your region has a host of benefits: less processing, packaging and contamination, boosted flavor and nutritional value, and the satisfaction of nourishing yourself straight from nature’s menu. In this sensational cookbook, you’ll find recipes — organized by season — that use the healthiest ingredients available from your garden or local farmers market. Beyond its recipes, Clean Start is an encouraging, easy-to-understand guide to dining closer to the source, accessible even for those accustomed to eating processed foods. 

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Blueberry Tart Recipe

“Eat more than you bring home” is our family rule of thumb for blueberry picking. By the time we’re done, we’re often left with tummy aches all-around and not enough blueberries to make more than a few muffins or pancakes. All I have to do is mention this tart before we start picking and our blueberry yield miraculously increases — and our tummy aches magically disappear!

Ingredients: 

Crust:
2 cups almond meal
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
 

Filling:
1 cup apple juice
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups blueberries
 

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 9-inch tart pan.

Prepare the crust: Place almond meal in a large mixing bowl. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, whisk together maple syrup, coconut oil and salt until oil melts. Whisk in almond extract and remove from heat. Pour this mixture over the almond meal and fold to incorporate all ingredients. Transfer dough to tart pan and press to form crust. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and, using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press down any puffed areas of crust. Set crust on a wire rack to cool.

Egg Recipes: The Incredible Versatility of Pastured Eggs


Pastured, free-range eggs can star in numerous egg recipes, from simple fried eggs and bacon to an elegant soufflé.

Chicks-Basket-Of-Eggs

If my kitchen were to suddenly become deficient in goat cheese, mushrooms or oatmeal, I’d be sad. But if my kitchen were to suddenly become deficient in eggs, my ability to cook would nearly come to a halt. So integral is the egg to culinary pursuits that one can easily compile a list of 100 Ways to Use Eggs.

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It should be no surprise that this package of healthy fats and dozens of proteins and other nutrients meant to create a life and sustain its early development is so full of energy. According to Harold McGee, author of the esteemed On Food and Cooking, “An egg is the sun’s light refracted into life.” Especially if a hen actually got to eat the green grass and the wiggly worms that the sun grew!

The eggs sold in most grocery stores are inferior to pastured eggs in almost every way. Many chefs agree that eggs from hens who get to graze pastures and eat bugs have better flavor and texture. Mark Newsome, head chef at the Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg, Va., loves the eggs he gets from pastured farming expert Joel Salatin’s farm.

“We love Polyface Farm eggs because of their flavor and consistency,” he says. “The yolk is always vibrant and the white is never watery. We have had guests ask if we put yellow dye in our scrambled eggs! The texture is firm and creamy, and the flavor is rich, never bland.”

“An egg is as close as you can get to a perfect food,” says Ken Baker, chef-owner of Pachamamas in Lawrence, Kan. He uses pastured eggs, including quail and duck eggs, from several area farms in his egg recipes. “Pastured duck eggs are just so mind-blowingly rich and flavorful,” Baker says. Chef Cal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Va., uses pastured goose eggs for their high protein levels, which lend a silky texture to custards. (To find a favorite egg recipe from each of these chefs, keep reading.)

The richer flavor of true free-range eggs is paralleled by their superior nutrition. Studies commissioned by MOTHER EARTH NEWS in 2005 and 2007 found that, compared with industrial eggs, pastured eggs have less saturated fat and cholesterol but more beta carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, D and E.

To ensure your eggs are truly pastured, buy them directly from a farmer or find out your grocer’s source and call to investigate. As an added bonus, according to Salatin, consumers need not fear the safety of eggs from grass-based farms with sane practices.

“What pastured poultry producers are doing is restoring the biological balance to the egg ecosystem,” he says. “Whole foods are not supposed to make us sick. But whole foods, living foods, must be raised with a full understanding of the ecological balance sheet. If the requirements for hygiene are met, eggs will be as pathogen-free and wholesome as nature intended.”

Supporting Farmers, Eating Local Food


Folks, it ain’t normal to rely on unsustainable, inhumane industrial food. It’s time to return to normal, seasonal eating and local food from time-tested farming methods.

Local Food Garden in Philadelphia

Joel Salatin’s newest book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal (Center Street, 2011) describes, with Joel’s distinctive voice, how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love in the 21st century. Explore how local food and seasonal eating, when done right, are ways to return our food system to normalcy. The following excerpt was adapted from Folks, This Ain’t Normal.

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The average morsel of food sees more of the world than the farmer who grows it, traveling an average of 1,500 miles from field to fork. It takes 15 calories of energy to put 1 calorie on the table, and 4 of those are expended in transportation.

Folks, this ain’t normal.

When you go to the supermarket, the majority of what’s for sale came from some other state. Imagine walking down the aisles, then ask yourself, “What could be produced within 100 miles of here?”

In most areas, the list is lengthy: Apples, barley, beef, beets, cabbage, carrots, cherries, chicken, corn, cucumbers, dairy products, grapes, honey, oats, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat, coffee.

OK, I was just seeing whether you were on your toes with that last one. But, most of what we eat can indeed be grown nearby. Often it can’t be grown year-round, however, and therein lies the conundrum. You can’t have a viable local food system without a seasonal eating commitment, which includes preserving seasonal production for nonseasonal consumption.

One solution is season extension. With greenhouses, high tunnels and more seasonal, localized eating, we can feed ourselves if we just do the following:

Reduce the Waste. Half of all food for human consumption never gets eaten. Look at what goes out the back door of a restaurant, a supermarket, any food-processing facility or even your own kitchen.

Grow Food on Unused Land. Lawns, campuses, parks, medians — we should grow our food everywhere. Land is moving out of production at an extremely rapid rate, both as a result of aging farmers and of non-farmers purchasing land.

Train New Farmers. With aging farmers retiring, we need to teach and mentor new farmers who can succeed them. The average age of a U.S. farmer is now approaching 60, but business analysts consider 35 years of age to be the median age of the practitioners in any vibrant economic sector. Unless and until the people who want to preserve farmland can sit around a table and figure out how to preserve farmers, we’re not solving the need of the hour: land stewardship.

The following stories prove we can return our food system to normalcy.

Urban Farming Done Right

In St. Louis recently, I had a wonderful time touring inner-city farms. The highlight: a one-twelfth-acre farm built on a lot formerly occupied by a condominium and presided over by several 20-somethings dedicated to biomass recycling and local food. These young people had transformed the spot into a productive farm. With chickens recycling kitchen waste, vermicomposting, and intensively worked raised garden beds, this tiny farm was producing all of the produce needed to feed 20 people year-round.

Homemade Ketchup and Mustard Recipes


Hosting a summer barbecue? These homemade ketchup and mustard recipes will take your everyday burgers and dogs to a whole new level of “Yum!”

Art-Of-Preserving-Cover

Featuring everything you need to know to put up the seasons’ bounty, The Art of Preserving (Weldon Owen, 2010) by Rick Field and Rebecca Courchesne illuminates how to savor your favorite fresh produce year-round. From beginners looking to learn, to those familiar with the technique, everyone will appreciate this contemporary and comprehensive approach to preserving the wealth of fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens and farmers’ markets. In this excerpt from the chapter “Condiments Sauces,” learn how to make homemade ketchup and mustard that will put the store-bought varieties to shame. 

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Classic Ketchup Recipe

Make this ketchup when tomatoes are at their summer best. Sweet, juicy garden-fresh tomatoes are reduced to a gently spiced, lusciously thick condiment. Your favorite purchased ketchup will never taste the same after you sample this irresistible homemade version.

Ingredients: 

12 lb (6 kg) tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
3 small red bell peppers (capsicums), seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
1 Tbsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) cider vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
Makes 6 half-pint (8-fl oz/250-ml) jars
 

Instructions: 

Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.

Blanch, peel, and core the tomatoes, then cut into quarters. In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the garlic and the spices on a square of cheesecloth (muslin), bring the corners together, and tie with kitchen string. In a small nonreactive saucepan, bring the vinegar and cheesecloth bag to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and remove from the heat.

Pass the tomato mixture through a food mill into a clean nonreactive saucepan. Discard the cheesecloth bag and pour all but 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the vinegar into the tomato mixture. Stir in the sugar and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture is reduced by more than half and mounds slightly on a spoon, 45-60 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, sugar, and the remaining vinegar.

Fresh Strawberry Recipes

Fresh Strawberry RecipesSweet, juicy and blissfully bite-sized, homegrown strawberries embody everything we love about eating from the summer garden. If you’ve only eaten supermarket strawberries, you have no idea how great real strawberries taste. Our collection of recipes here will get your fresh red beauties performing deliciously in dishes both sweet and savory. We’ve also included preservation recipes so you can keep that incomparable, just-picked strawberry flavor on the menu year-round.

Country-Style Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Tiramisu
Strawberry Ice
Strawberry and Arugula Salad
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade
Buttermilk Shortcake With Fresh Strawberries
Strawberry Bread
Wild Strawberry Ice Cream 

Preserve Strawberries: Easy Recipes to Stretch Strawberry Season

Includes recipes for Back-Burner Strawberry Sauce and Quick Strawberry Jam

We also recommend these strawberry-laden delights from EatingWell magazine:
Fresh Strawberry Dressing
Chilled Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup
Strawberry-Orange Muffins 

(And for more expert berry-growing advice than you can shake a cane at, go to
Growing Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Currants and Other Berries That Thrive Where You Live.) 

Photo by Roger Doiron 

Grow Safe, Natural Mosquito Repellents


These natural mosquito repellents, such as mosquito-repellent plants and homemade mosquito traps, will help you have a less buggy summer.

Natural Mosquito Repellents

Summertime, and the living is … too mosquitoey and itchy? It’s a common complaint. And mosquitoes are not only a nuisance — they can also spread West Nile virus.

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Wearing loose, light-colored pants and long-sleeved cotton shirts is helpful in fending off mosquitoes. On particularly muggy and buggy days, you can wear a head net, though sometimes that’s more than one can bear.

For many people, the solution is to reach for a DEET-based repellent before venturing outdoors. DEET has been around for more than 50 years, and the Environmental Protection Agency has assured us this chemical is safe if “used as directed.” DEET has been the standard against which all other repellents are measured — but is it really safe?

A 2001 review of 17 cases of suspected DEET toxicity in children concluded that “Repellents containing DEET are not safe when applied to children’s skin and should be avoided in children. Additionally, since the potential toxicity of DEET is high, less toxic preparations should be substituted for DEET-containing repellents, whenever possible.” In 2009, a French study reported that “Excessive doses of DEET could be toxic to humans and could cause severe seizures and lethality when combined with other active ingredients, such as pesticides.” The French researchers (read their full report at BMC Biology) studied DEET’s effects on insect, mouse and human proteins and showed that the chemical disrupted the action of acetylcholinesterase, a key enzyme in the central nervous system of insects and mammals — including humans.

The thought of slathering on a neurotoxin scares many of us, so the editors at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and I explored the research on natural mosquito repellents (there is a ton of it!) and put together this report on natural alternatives to DEET. To make our list of effective, nontoxic options, a natural mosquito repellent had to meet two requirements:

1) The material(s) involved needs to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), and be nonhazardous to people, pets and other non-mosquito living beings.

2) Repellents and techniques have to be scientifically proven effective.

After careful research, we landed on two attractive options: homegrown mosquito-repellent plants and homemade mosquito traps.

Natural Mosquito Repellents: What Works, What Doesn’t

Almost everyone has seen newspaper or magazine ads for the “Mosquito Plant,” a hybrid geranium (Pelargonium citrosum) whose very presence, according to the ads, will chase mosquitoes off of your patio. A search of the literature revealed no scientific evidence backing this claim. In fact, one research study conducted at Florida AM University showed that mosquitoes were completely unfazed by these plants, landing readily on their leaves and feeding enthusiastically on human volunteers sitting next to the plants.

Support the Healthy Food Amendment to the Farm Bill


The farm bill is about to come up for debate on the Senate floor, and now is our chance to stand up and help turn this bill that supports mega-farms into a bill that supports a healthier food system.

Industrial Farming

Here’s an action alert from our friends at the Environmental Working Group about the food and farm bill now moving through Congress:  

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Do you want a farm bill that invests more in healthy food? If so, we need your help.

The farm bill — legislation that makes all the difference when it comes to your food — is about to come up for debate on the Senate floor. This is your chance to turn the farm bill into a healthier food bill, and we need you to stand with us now.

As it’s currently written, this bill will give away billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to corporate mega-farms while doing too little for healthy food programs.

Yesterday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced that she will offer an amendment to cut crop insurance subsidies, restore cuts to funding for food stamps and redirect $500 million to healthy food programs.

We need you to stand with the Environmental Working Group and 70 other organizations and food leaders like Michael Pollan and Mario Batali in urging the Senate to invest more in healthy foods, reject cuts to nutrition programs and cut egregious subsidies. Your senators need to know that you want a healthy food bill right now — before they vote.

Click here to email your senators demanding support for Sen. Gillibrand’s amendment and healthy food.

With a $100-billion-a-year price tag, the federal farm bill dictates what types of crops are sown, how farmers grow and sell the food you eat and what food assistance is available to all Americans.

Start Your Chickens the Right Way With Chick Starter Feed


Start Your ChickensIs it really necessary to give my new chicks “chick starter” feed? Any reason why I can’t simply give them “layer” feed right away? And what about oyster shell — if the feed formula is “complete,” as it says on the bag, do I need to supplement with oyster shell?
 

Yes, it’s important to start chicks on “starter” formulation and then switch them to “layer” formulation about two weeks before they start laying — typically at 16 weeks (for hybrids) to 22 weeks (for heritage breeds). The place where you acquired your chicks will be able to tell you whether your birds are hybrids or heritage breeds.

“There is a big difference between the two commercial formulations, and it matters,” says Harvey Ussery, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Ussery says starter feed has more protein — as much as 20 percent — which chicks need for healthy growth. Layer feed has less protein (about 16 percent) but more minerals, especially calcium, which is necessary for producing strong eggshells. If you feed the high-calcium layer feed to your chicks, the excess calcium may cause developmental problems, such as weak legs, reproductive or kidney damage, or even death.

And while the calcium in commercial layer feeds is usually enough for mature hens, it’s still a good idea to supplement with calcium-rich oyster shell.

“Commercial formulations assume the chickens are confined and eating only the commercial feed,” Ussery says. “If your birds are foraging outdoors, they are taking in other things besides their feed, so it’s possible they will need more calcium. By offering oyster shell, free choice, they will take only what they need. It’s cheap insurance.”

There are other reasons to give layers oyster shell, too. “The actual amount of dietary calcium required by any individual layer varies with her age, diet, rate of lay and state of health,” says Gail Damerow, author of The Chicken Encyclopedia. “Older hens, for instance, need more calcium than younger hens because laying depletes their bones of calcium. And with layers, a calcium supplement such as oyster shell can double as gizzard grit.”

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Photo by Terrie Schweitzer 

Passive Solar Design Basics


Plan a comfortable, energy-efficient home that saves you money on heating and cooling with these passive solar design basics.

Solar Living Room

Passive solar design begins with the simple idea that you can build a house that uses natural heating, cooling, ventilation and daylighting. These homes require much less fossil fuel energy to heat and cool than conventional homes do, which is better for the environment and saves passive solar homeowners money. Passive solar homes are comfortable to live in because they are designed to radiate heat in winter, maintain a comfortable year-round temperature, ventilate naturally, and let in plenty of natural light.

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I became interested in sustainable design, specifically passive solar design, as a young architect — first while working in the Peace Corps in Africa, and later while working professionally in New Mexico. The details of any particular passive solar home design depend on the climate and the specifics of the site. Over the course of my 35-year career, I’ve designed a variety of passive solar houses throughout the country using different configurations of south-facing windows, sunrooms and other passive solar design features. (For specifics on one of them, read “The Western Solar Farmhouse: A Passive Solar Design” near the end of the article) What follows are the principles used to design any passive solar home.

Passive Solar Design: House Orientation and Window Placement

The first consideration for optimizing passive solar energy is to select a house site with adequate solar exposure. For solar heating in winter, a good measure of solar exposure is to have at least four hours of direct solar gain on the winter solstice. The best orientation is to have the “solar” side of the house face within 15 degrees of true south. In climates where summer heat is a major concern, it’s a good idea to aim the solar windows a little east of south to get morning sun in winter and avoid the intense western sun in the warm season.

Typically, you would locate the day-use rooms, such as a living room or family room, on the south portion of the home’s floor plan to allow the greatest amount of solar energy to penetrate these rooms on winter days. This layout also allows you to take advantage of the sunlight and view of the outdoors.

The “shell” of the house is composed of exterior insulated walls and “glazing,” or windows. In a conventional home, the window area is equally distributed on all four sides of the home, or the majority of the window area may be focused on the direction with the best view. For a passive solar design, one would locate more of the window area on the south side, which has the best solar access. Some windows would be placed on the east and west sides of the house for daylighting and cross-ventilation with only a few windows to the north.

All You Need to Know to Eat Good, Grass-Fed Meat


Learn how to choose and use inexpensive cuts of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and pastured pork for better nutrition and out-of-this-world flavor.

Grass-Fed Cows

Over the years, many incidents inspired me to write a book about grass-fed meat. One such time came when I read a New York Times article in which the author wrote about not knowing how to cook lamb shoulder. I was struck by how we’d lost our ability to cook anything more than steaks, burgers and chops.

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A second time was the recognition that, years before anyone was a “locavore,” nearly everything my family ate came from within a 20-mile radius of our home. I thought this was interesting but not terribly useful for others, until I began to notice that it was increasingly possible to eat this way thanks to CSA (community supported agriculture) programs, farmers markets and local food websites.

A third incident made an even bigger impression. My husband, who has high cholesterol, happened to have his blood tested after our first year of eating local, entirely pastured meat. Although he had eliminated desserts from his diet, he still ate a prodigious amount of meat. Without further effort on his part, his bad cholesterol (LDL) count had gone down 40 points! That made me research the health benefits of grass-fed meat.

As I cooked my way through a quarter of beef, half a pig and a whole lamb, I discovered cuts and tastes I hadn’t experienced in years. Most grocery stores don’t stock briskets, short ribs, lamb breasts, pig’s trotters or pork shanks. It was a treat to cook them and a delight to share their flavors with friends and family. What is extraordinary is that, once tasted, the lively, honest flavors of pastured meat create instant converts.

What Is Pastured Meat?

Beef and other ruminants are generally called “grass-fed,” while pork and poultry are referred to as “pastured” or “free-range.” The essential point is that these animals spend their whole lives eating what they were designed by nature to eat and getting exercise, fresh air and sunlight. They tend to be healthy, with no need for antibiotics or other drugs. Because they range through rotating pastures, they aren’t stressed or crowded. When grass-fed animals are allowed to grow slowly and naturally to the appropriate processing weight, they don’t need growth hormones.

Pastured animals produce manure that enriches the fields they roam on and nourishes birds, promoting a diverse ecosystem. Grass-fed meat and milk are increasingly recognized as healthier and consistently lower in bad fat than industrial products.

In addition to taking part in a cycle that nourishes pasture rather than depleting the soil, pastured animals are a sustainable choice because the meat can be obtained locally in every state. This drastically reduces the distances products must be shipped, and buying it helps small farmers make a living caring for their land and animals.

Industrial Versus Grass-Fed Meat