Monday, November 12, 2012

Affordable, high-quality food: $1 a day is all it takes

Over the last couple of months, we've acquired our orders from Big Coulee Farms, our supplier of pastured beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. We were excited to have our turkeys in time for Thanksgiving, and just last week, we had our first meal of pork chops in many months. We only ordered chickens in bulk last year, so when Rusty and Agnes ran out of pork chops we were out of luck until our own order was ready this year. They tasted even better than I remember them. Sorry, there is no photo, we all ate them before I even thought of breaking out the camera or iPhone for a photo. Here is a shot of the freezer and the pork. I'll try to add a photo of the finished dinner product in a future post.

Freezer full of goodness.
Just yesterday I called BCF and spoke to Vicky to order some eggs for this coming week. It was then that she informed me our split side of beef would also be ready for pick-up. When I got off the telephone, I added up our total costs for the bulk orders that will last us until next fall (note: this is not counting bi-weekly eggs in this total). It breaks down like this:

  • 8 chickens ~$250
  • 3 turkeys ~ $280
  • 1 pig $594
  • beef, split side (1/4 beef) ~ $507
  • total = ~ $1,630

I don't have the totals for the poultry close to hand, so include the "~" as a qualifier in my totals. Bear in mind that each of our chickens can easily last for two meals for our famiy of four, and then be turned into stock, the turkeys are 18-19 pounds, our pork was just shy of 99 pounds, and we will be getting more than 60 pounds of beef, I figure. Quite a few meals of humanely, naturally-raised, pasture-fed livestock. It can't get much better than that.

One criticism that people level against eating pasture-raised animals is that the costs are prohibitively expensive. Yes, I realize that not everyone has a large freezer. But given what I am about to describe, it may be worth the initial start-up expense. These simple calculations show that even our large order, when considered in a per day, per person manner, works out to be pretty darned cost effective. You be the judge.

For $1,630 this works out to about $135 per month, about $30 per week, or $1.11 per day, per person for our family of four. When I look at it this way, it makes me wonder why it took us so long to "see the light" and start feeding our family this way. The next time that you hear someone talking about how they can't afford to eat real, healthy food, ask yourself this: Do you spend $1 per day on what you consume? Of course you do. Shouldn't you get your money's worth?

UPDATE 17 November 2012: I just picked up our split side of beef - it came to 82.4 lbs! So we have we now have about 275 pounds of pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken, and turkey in our freezer. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why genetic modification is baaaaa-d: Sheep edition

Normally, the arguments against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) centres around the notion that we should not combine the genes of species that could never occur naturally (at least, this is one of Joel Salatin's main counterpoints). Well, today there is another reason: conventional wisdom, meet genetic engineering. 

In a story reported today in the Edmonton Journal, scientists have apparently modified a sheep such that it produces an over-abundance of supposedly "heart healthy" polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs). This "breakthrough" is ironic, since PUFAs are thought by many to be one of the main causes of modern health issues. Non-GMO sheep, and their saturated fat (that is healthy, by the way) are just fine, thank you, especially when they are raised from start to finish on grass, the way nature intended. 

If you needed ammunition to win an argument against GMOs, this is a good one.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

sturdyteam registered for MS Walk 2012

sturdyteam at the 2011 MS Walk

We are once again completing the MS Walk (in Edmonton again this year) to raise awareness of and funds for MS research and related programs. As many (most, all?) know, I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2009. The disease initially affected my vision and balance. I have been on 2 different medications in the past almost 3 years, Rebif and now Copaxone. (both are injectable - I have written about this before). I have also completely overhauled my diet, fitness, and lifestyle. I won't bore you with the details, but many of the links on the side of my blog lead to other sites that are in line with my changes. Things have been going very well with only small bumps in the road (mostly from the medications themselves). I do not know for certain how much of this is due to the medications, other significant lifestyle changes I have made, or just luck. I guess it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Nothing sounds sweeter than people telling me that "they had no idea" that I had MS. I hope to keep it this way. Please consider sponsoring us and supporting this worthwhile cause. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Website for Big Coulee Farms!

My friends at Big Coulee Farms have a brand new website! Check it out, and order the most amazing pastured beef, pork, chicken, turkeys, and pastured eggs from them! You'll be happy you did. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unpasteurized sauerkraut, under my nose all along!

Crunchy fermented cabbage goodness!
I have been enjoying great-tasting Kissel Sauerkraut for a while now, but just this minute found out that it is in fact unpasteurized meaning that it still has all the great, gut-healthy, probiotic bacteria still living in it, ready to aid your digestive tract in doing its job! To celebrate I'm going to pick up another package (or two!) on my way home!

Friday, January 6, 2012

St. Albert real food bargains: 6 January 2012

Continuing on with my theme started a week agoSobeys has some food at some good prices this week. Here are some of my favourites:

Aroy-D Coconut milk: $1.48 per can
Avocados: $1.00 each
Green Onions: $1.00 for 2 bunches
Kiwis: $1.00 for 3
Organic carrots: $2.99 per bag
Radishes: $1.00 for 2 bags

Stock up while you can!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Man's best friend: Icer's

Well, to be precise, Lee Valley Tools Icer's allow this guy to walk his best friend in the terribly icy conditions, thanks to lots of freezing rain we've been getting recently. Luckily, I don't always need to wear these (see below, Oregon Coastline, Summer 2011, somewhere near Lincoln City), but I appreciate them when I do need them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

sturdyrant: Getting a hate on for needles

I don't know whether this will be a recurring series of "rant" posts, but I am sure my wife, colleagues, friends, and neighbours will be happy to see me channelling my energy into writing blog posts that they can choose to ignore rather than me bending their ear for an indeterminate amount of time about things that irk me. The point of the post below is just that, a rant, and is my opinion alone, and not that of my employer, or of anyone else of importance. Just me. It is also not meant to serve as a "pity party". Just a rant. Pure venting.

I have been on a so-called "Disease Modifying Drug" (or DMD) since June 2009. I can safely say that any infinitesimal amount novelty that may have existed around the idea of injecting myself 3 (first DMD: Rebif) and then 7 times a week (current DMD: Copaxone) has long since vanished. Lately, I've been getting a healthy hate on for needles and the nightly "routine". 

Don't get me wrong, the current drug appears to be "working" (or is it my Whals-esque paleo style diet and lifestyle?) at preventing relapses, and maybe even reducing the number and size of lesions in my brain observed on a 4.7T (strong) MRI, but finding spots to "stick" it is becoming increasingly difficult. (This is at least a step up from the awful, flu-like side effects I had with the interferon and that it kicked the snot out of my bone marrow. I eventually dropped it after two failed "attempts".) Not to mention that I think I may be developing a spot of lipoatrophy on my abdomen as a result of the injections. (It's interesting to note that lipoatrophy caused by Copaxone is one of only two listed causes on the Wiki page, the other being caused by an adverse reaction to medication for HIV/AIDS.) I am not certain about the lipoatrophy, but it is worrisome. Besides appearing unsightly, lipoatrophy causes you to be unable to continue to inject in the affected location. If this happens enough and in enough locations, you may not be able to continue to self-administer your Copaxone. And here's the rub.

You need to maintain a "healthy" layer of adipose tissue to facilitate injecting Copaxone (a product that costs my insurance company almost $17,000 per year, by the way). No fat, or damaged fat, and no injections. Forget being healthy any avoiding all the other ills that can still befall an MSer (such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, etc.) or the fact the the food you used to eat that made you chubby (and a good candidate for injections!) also very likely contributed in a real way (i.e., caused) your MS in the first place. No, don't worry about that. Just be sure to have a little extra junk in the trunk to pump the medication into each day.

In closing, I must add that my nurse, an RN who contacts me periodically to ensure that things are going well and to offer advice, has been excellent. This post has nothing to do with her. I am just choked in general about the situation that is fraught with contradictions.