Gestation Stalls: Where Our Pigs Live

I can’t force any opinion on anyone else, and that is not my intention with this blog. I want to provide you with some tips and recipes to choose the best meat you feel appropriate, and I want to also provide you with some resources to better understand what you are consuming.

To understand what exactly you are eating, we have to know where the meat comes from and how it is raised.

I was referred to a blog titled “Mom at the Meat Counter” by a my mom. One specific post caught my attention. Pig Housing: Gestation Stalls. It compares gestation stalls (where most pigs we consume live) to a child’s car seat (hmm…makes you think).

The truth is, I am one of those people who doesn’t know much about pig farming. But, it’s something I will take the time to learn different opinions about.

The mother behind this blog sort of wraps that idea that pigs are dangerous creatures around the reader’s head, and that is why they have to be kept in the gestation stalls- to keep people safe. They grow large, and sometimes become aggressive. My question is why do they have to be in such a small cell that they can’t even roll over? And yes, you may keep a child in a car seat for safety while the car is in motion, but these pigs are stable in one place, and locking them up until they are ready to deliver seems a bit much. Don’t some people own pigs as pets? I have heard they are smarter than dogs…

I think the solution would be this:

“Research shows that there are advantages and disadvantages of using gestation stalls. One study gave pigs the choice of remaining in a group pen or in a gestation stall and found that the pigs preferred to stay in the stalls most of the time. In a video of a farm in Indiana, the farmer has European-style gestation crates, where the pigs can choose to go in or out of the stalls. He says they stay in their stall over 90% of the time.”

I am in my bedroom about 90% of the time, because I need time alone, but at least I have the freedom to come and go as I please, and wouldn’t pigs want/deserve that same freedom to come and go as they place? These European-style gestation crates sound like a great idea to me!

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Ham Panini with a Punch

Sometimes the regular deli sandwich I throw together on my lunch break just doesn’t cut it. I want something with a little kick, and not just an ordinary mayo/meat combo sandwich. This is why I am so incredibly thankful that my roommate brought a panini maker to our apartment. It’s amazing what a little heat and cheese can do!

For starters, the ingredients I suggest you to use for your sandwich are …

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  • Any wheat bread, but try and get something soft. If you’re really feeling frisky, grab a loaf of bread from your local bakery with some cheese on top.
  • Move Over Butter. This stuff is AMAZING. Super easy to spread and way less fat than real butter.
  • Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil. It’s easier to spread and has less fat. Tastes great too!
  • Any type of Honey Dijon Mustard.
  • Hormel Natural Choice No Preservatives lunch meat. I suggest Ham or Turkey, but really any kind is great.
  • Any kind of a spicy cheese. This time I bought some Caribbean Red Hot Jack Cheese from HyVee. It has a kick, but is so delicious!

**If you want you can add some lettuce to your panini after it has been cooked**

After making numerous Panini’s I think I have found the easiest way to make them without getting butter everywhere. What I do is butter one side of each slice of bread. Then, put the two buttered sides together so you can hold your bread to spread the mayonnaise and mustard without getting butter everywhere. After you have slathered the mayo and mustard on, take the pieces apart, and put one of the buttered sides onto the panini press. Next, add your meat and cheese slices. Last, place the other piece of bread (butter side on the outside) on your sandwich, and wait about 5 minutes until the panini is a golden brown, and the cheese is melted.

Warning: You may want a glass of cold milk at hand.

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Spicy Italian Sausage Lasagna

This Valentine’s Day my roommate and I wanted to make something special for our boyfriends. They aren’t the biggest fans of vegetables (actually hate them), and they love their meat. My boyfriend specifically is a huge fan of italian sausage, and anything that makes your mouth burn.

So after much collaboration, we decided to surprise them with some Spicy Italian Sausage Lasagna. The issue was that neither her nor myself had ever made lasagna before, and I always here how hard it is to make.

We googled and googled until we found 2 recipes that seemed like they would be a great place to start. We knew we wanted ground beef and italian sausage, and we knew that we didn’t want any veggies in the mix. For those of you cooking for extremely picky eaters, I would give our recipe a try!

For your reference, the recipe we followed the closest was one we found on The Pioneer Woman. Another recipe to reference is “The World’s Best Lasagna Recipe” found on allrecipes.com.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (We bought Amana beef from Hy Vee)
  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Onion, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounce) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups lowfat Cottage Cheese
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 package no-cook Lasagna Noodles

In a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain all the fat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for about 35 minutes while you are working on the other steps.

In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well.

Arrange 4 no-cook lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.

Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.

Cook at 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until the lasagna top is bubbly.

By the time I snapped a photo, the pan was more than half way gone!

By the time I snapped a photo, the pan was more than half way gone!

Thoughts:

I am an advocate for super saucy lasagna and pasta. I always get a little worried taking recipes from online because you never really know if they will have enough sauce or not, but this one was perfect!

It was just the right amount of spicy, and the meat went really well together with the cheese mixture. By the time I went to take a picture the pan was half gone!

I definitely recommend you try this one out. It took about an hour and a half to prepare and cook, and the ingredients didn’t break the bank!

From There to Here – What happens to my meat before I swallow it?

Since the year 1906, when Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” exposed the disturbing conditions within America’s meat packing plants, there has been constant transformation in the nation’s meat industry.

Whether or not the changes have always been for the better is a very ethical question that is swayed by opinion of what is right and what is wrong.

I invite you to watch a recent graphic video uncovering the real conditions in meat packing plants around America. I came across the video on meat.org when doing some research, and even though they encourage you to become vegetarian, it is a useful tool to understand why some meat is bad. Please watch at least the first eight minutes of “If slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian” because it might change your opinion forever.

Your stomach might be a little sour now, but it’s important to remember there is hope in the meat industry, and eating meat is not the problem. The problem is how the animals are treated during their lifetime, and the moments leading up to their death. There are actions you can take to still eat meat, but eat “happy” meat, and to support the farmers who truly raise their animals.

An article by Lynne Curry explains her research behind her novel “Pure Beef.” She makes the point that anyone who loves ice cream, or cheese, or any other dairy product participates in beef production. It’s inevitable. But, she also goes on to explain that we shouldn’t condemn the meat itself, but the production.

This brings me to Rita Pray. A Des Moines native who hadn’t really made a change with her eating habits until her daughter turned vegetarian. Rita is a member of the Iowa Food Cooperative and a food blogger herself.

Growing up Rita lived in a family that had meat with every dinner. Her uncle was a cattle farmer, so there was always a lot of beef in the freezer. Her husband loves beef and sausage, and Rita said she eats more chicken and turkey in greater amounts because of a family history of heart disease.

“When my older daughter became essentially vegetarian, I looked for new ways other than meat to incorporate protein into our dinners,” Pray explained.  “I also found that she would eat high quality meat in small portions, such as organic or naturally raised.  So that guided my move toward purchasing more locally raised, small farm meat and poultry.”

Pray also emphasized an important barrier – cost.

“It is considerably more expensive than supermarket, mass-produced meat.  But there are hidden costs to buying any mass-produced, highly processed foods, such as the eventual health tolls from hidden chemicals, and the environmental impact of excessive packaging and shipping,” explained Pray. “I think it’s important for consumers, when possible, to seek out the highest quality food they can afford and not complain about food costs.  You really do get what you pay for.”

Growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, I am in the middle of the cattle and hog industry – whether that is dairy farms or farms for mass production of animal meat.

Myself at the Sioux City Museum in the meat packing plant area.

Myself at the Sioux City Museum in the meat packing plant area.

Just 20 miles south is Dakota City, Nebraska, which hosts one of the biggest meatpacking plants in the United States, Iowa Beef Processors (IBP). Who, in 1988, was fined for than $3.1 million by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing it’s workers to cumulative trauma disorders resulting from highly repetitive meat cutting tasks.

It’s all about mass production of animals to feed the consumers. These are animals we are talking about here, not cars. These statistics I found might be a little bit striking for you too.

Wouldn’t you like to know where your food is coming from, who raised it, how it was handled from start to finish?

In closing, Michael Ruhlman, a food blogger, expressed, “This I believe: to eat humanely raised and slaughtered animals is not only ethical,” Ruhlman stated, “it’s important to our humanity.”

Chicken Breast. Smashed Potatoes. & Sauteed Veggies.

This was quite the experience for me. My first time cooking dinner from scratch for myself and my roommate. I went to the local Hy Vee store and got the ingredients I thought I would need, took a deep breath, and began to cook!

I was nervous at first, but the feedback was great, and I was absolutely full from all the food I ate!

Here is my original recipe for some Lemon Pepper Chicken Breast, Smashed Potatoes, and Sauteed Vegetables.

Things needed:

  1. Chicken Breast (with no added hormones and steroids)
  2. Small Gold Potatoes
  3. Celery
  4. Yellow Onion
  5. Baby Carrots
  6. Lemon
  7. Butter
  8. Salt
  9. Pepper
  10. Garlic Powder
  11. Rosemary
  12. Olive Oil
  13. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  14. Garlic Powder

Chicken 

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees, and washing the chicken with cool water. Place chicken in a pan and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle some lemon pepper, salt, pepper, and rosemary on top. Then squeeze 1/2 of a lemon’s juice on the chicken.

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Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

After cooking, leave chicken setting in pan for 5 minutes before cutting into to be sure the juices from the chicken can settle.

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Smashed Potatoes

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Begin by washing the potatoes with some water and a scrubbing brush. Place them in a saucepan of water and boil until potatoes are soft.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

While they are boiling, spray a cookie sheet pan with spray oil.

Once potatoes are soft, drain them, and place them on the cookie sheet. Smash the potatoes down with a cup. Rub some olive oil on the tops of the smashed potatoes. Then, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary.

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Place the cookie sheet into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on how crispy you want your potatoes).

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Vegetables

I really love carrots, and onions always have great flavor. I am not too keen on celery, but I wanted to branch out and try things so those are the three types of vegetables I chose.

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All you do is put some olive oil in a frying pan, place your cut and cleaned veggies into the pan. Cook on medium heat until they have become tender.

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I sprinkled them with some salt and pepper. I also added a teaspoon full of butter to add a little flavor.

Cook covered, and it’s as easy as that!

Final Thoughts…

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I was really impressed with how moist the chicken turned out to be! I usually have to eat my chicken with condiments like ketchup or ranch, but it was so great I didn’t need anything. The smashed potatoes are addicting. They are a great combination of soft and crunchy. Lastly, the vegetables really hit the spot and all in all the meal covered the food groups.

Enjoy!

Welcome!

Hello my fellow meat eating food lovers!

I welcome you to Creative Carnivores.

This site can be your stop for weekly recipes including meat, some healthy hints for better eating and at a lower cost, as well as, the inside scoop on what meat is good, and what meat is not so much.

I am a college student at the University of Iowa who wants to start to learn how to cook. I have searched for numerous recipes online for healthy eating, but it always seems like they are vegetarian or vegan recipes.

I don’t feel like I am completely full until I have eaten meat, it’s just not something I want to give up. I do agree that some meat we consume is terrible for our bodies. Like my roommates, who love eating Tyson frozen chicken patties. When you cook them in the microwave they blow up like a marshmallow. YUCK!

I do not believe that cows should be fed corn, and chickens should be given steroids to help them grow bigger faster.

There are farms around this area (Iowa City) that only feed their animals grass. They do not cage up their chickens for mass production. Farms that allow you to pick out what meat you want, and give you exactly that- meat. No hormones, no steroids, just good old cow, pig, chicken, lamb, even buffalo!

What you can expect from my blog are some local hotspots for healthy eating, I will be interviewing chefs and owners of restaurants that serve all natural meat. I will hopefully be in contact with Kristin from “Iowa Girl Eats”- one of my favorite blogs! And I can supply you with some east recipes you can whip up.

 

Enjoy!