Did I mention I’m a vegetarian? Ovo-pesco-lacto vegetarian to be exact, meaning I eat eggs, seafood and dairy products but no land animals. I have been a vegetarian for the last ~16 years after I learned where most of the meat products in America come from and how inhumanely the animals raised for slaughter are treated. That being said, I have no judgements against humans that do choose to eat meat and I realize that dogs and cats have to eat a meat based diet to stay healthy, but I have never spent much time in the meat aisle or gotten to know the butchers who work in the deli of the local market. In San Diego, we are very fortunate to have a local chain called Jimbo’s that carries tons of organic produce and only sells meat that comes from farms that raise their animals humanely. I know some people take issue with paying for items marked “free range” or “cage free” because there is no clear cut guideline that needs to be followed for this label. The animals could be let outside for less than ten minutes a day and be called “free range” or be kept in a pen indoors and be called “cage free”. That is why I don’t buy the Horizon brand products that claim to be organic and cage-free. Jimbo’s closely monitors all their supplying farms to ensure that the animals are being housed and treated humanely and are not treated with any antibiotics or growth hormones. I believe in supporting local farmers and we try to buy all our groceries from local organic farms (also sold at Jimbo’s) but unfortunately the farms providing meat from humanely raised animals are not always local. We have hosted Christmas Eve dinner for my husband’s family for the last two years and I insisted on serving ham from what I call “a happy pig”. The ham sold at Jimbo’s comes from Denmark. I find it sad that they are not able to find a local humane source but I still bought it since that was all that was available. The cruelty-free meat definitely comes with a heftier price tag (the ham costs about 5x more per pound than your regular super-market ham) but it’s a once a year purchase for us so Merry Christmas to the pigs too!
Anyway, Jimbo’s was where I went to pick up the items for Chile’s first week of homemade meals. While shuffling through the pre-packaged meats I found that Jimbo’s carries organic, free-range beef liver at a very reasonable price. Chile’s diet includes a liver supplement (available in tablet form) or fresh liver. I figured since I was able to find a fresh source I would give it a shot. I must have looked pretty lost wandering around the meat cases because one of the butchers came right out from behind the counter to help me. I asked him for their leanest ground beef. He said the one they had ground earlier that morning was pretty lean but if I wanted he could grind some fresh top sirloin ( I think?) that would be more lean. Totally out of my element, I just smiled, nodded, and handed him the list of the rest of the meat items I needed. I was very thankful that he even de-skinned and de-boned the turkey legs for me which made it much easier for me to prepare when I got home. Also on the list were chicken necks and turkey necks. They don’t normally stock these but I was able to order some that would come in a few days later. I learned that getting to know your local butcher is very helpful when you’re going to be purchasing large quantities of meat, particularly when they are things you aren’t exactly familiar with.
The butcher never asked what I was doing with all this meat that I was so clueless about but the guy at the checkout counter did ask me a question about one of my items and I told him “I have no idea. I’m a vegetarian and all of this is to make food for my dog”. He just laughed and said “Well that explains the beef liver, I hardly see anyone buying that!” .