Category Archives: friends

Meet Your Meat

My friend Rose from Our Lady of Second Helpings posted her version of our trip to the farm to buy our cow. She’s a food blogger, so her article focuses more on the nutritional aspects of grass-fed beef. It’s a great compliment to the articles I’ve written on the cost-savings potential in buying an entire cow.

For instance, here’s her take on grass-fed vs. whatever-junk-they-use-on-feedlots beef:

Taste and Nutrition – We would rather not eat greasy food. Compared to factory raised grain fed beef, grass fed beef is extremely lean. We prefer the more meaty and slightly gamey flavor of grass fed beef. Studies have shown grass fed beef to be higher in nutrients, minerals, and “good” fats.

Go read the whole article, it’s interesting.

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Cow Number 2

car full of meatLast weekend we bought our second full cow from 3 Sisters Farms. We kept 1/4 of it (about 150 lbs) and divvied the rest up between a few other families. The first one lasted us 18 months, which means we ate just over 1.5 pounds of beef per person per month. I’ve heard a healthy red meat portion is 6-oz, so if we were eating right-sized portions each time (I probably ate more than my fair share), that comes to 4 servings of meat, or once a week. That’s probably about the optimal frequency for consuming red meat. However, we often brought the meat to potlucks and entertained guests with red meat dishes, so not all of it was actually consumed by our family.

If you compare the picture above to the one I took for the blog post about our first cow purchase, you can see how much better I’ve gotten at efficiently loading up the back of the car with boxes:

18 months ago

You can also see the difference between an old camera-phone, and Mrs. Foundry’s nice DSLR.

This year, the farmers weren’t making trips into the city so we drove to Whidbey Island to pick up the meat. Originally, I thought it was going to be a hassle (and negate the savings of buying bulk meat), but we made it into a fun day trip with Rose from Our Lady of Second Helpings and her son who’s about the same age as our youngest. We had a picnic lunch at Deception Pass and rode the ferry, so even though we logged over 150 miles onto the car (more than I drive in 3 months) I think it was well worth it to meat…I mean meet the farmers and the future hamburgers. The animals were well treated, and seemed very happy. The pigs had an unobstructed view of Puget Sound, and as much as I love the view from our back deck, I must admit I was a little jealous of those porkers.

The price went up compared to 18 months ago ($4.25/lb vs $4.00/lb last time) but that’s about the pace of inflation. To make it an even better deal, they threw in the organ meat (heart and liver) along with some dog bones that we gave to the other families who have dogs (and kept some for ourselves to make soup stock…shhhh).

Maybe I should have put a warning at the beginning of this post for vegetarians to skip over it? Nah.

PS: Happy Birthday to my sister, Mindy! I won’t divulge her age, but as of today, it now ends in a zero!

How not using coupons can be frugal

Perhaps many people are reluctant to be more frugal because they have the misplaced idea that “frugal” means “spending less money”?

I was having a drink with my friend Buster, and he mentioned in an offhand way that he doesn’t use Groupons (here, I use the term to mean any of the online coupons). His rationale is interesting:

He wouldn’t buy a Groupon for a business he doesn’t already visit. In other words, he doesn’t let Groupon change his spending habits.

Also, he wouldn’t buy a Groupon from a business he already visits and likes to support, since as a fellow small-businessman he knows it can be difficult to make ends meet.

Those of you who took a logic class in college will realize that means he’ll never buy any Groupons.

If you learn one thing from reading Foundry in the Forest, I hope it’s that “frugality” doesn’t mean “spending less money”. Instead, it means enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of your life and every dollar you spend. If using a coupon to save a few bucks at a mom-and-pop store doesn’t seem virtuous to you, then not using coupons is very frugal. It’s a personal choice.

How to achieve anything (or: How weight loss is like personal finance)

It’s only November, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my friend Rose wrote the best blog post of the year. It’s about how she lost almost 50% of her body weight, down from 277 lbs. Imagine shedding half of yourself!

Before and After

As I read how she did it, I realized that after the background about the weight itself, she wasn’t actually writing about losing weight. Instead, she was providing the perfect template for achieving any difficult goal. Here’s her secret recipe (as I see it):

  1. Keep metrics: you don’t know if you’re getting closer or farther away from your goal unless you identify key metrics. With losing weight, you need to track what you eat and how much you exercise. With personal finance, you need to track how much you make and how much you spend.
  2. Persistance: I’ll let Rose tackle this one in her own words: “I decided early on in this process that there was only one way that I could fail and that was to quit.  I took that option off the table and worked on just putting one foot in front of the other.”
  3. Support from loved ones: if your significant other isn’t on the same page as you with losing weight or meeting financial goals, it’s a non-starter. You need 100% unwavering support of the people in your life.
  4. Advice from a domain expert: tread carefully here, because in both weight loss and personal finance there are many false prophets. You need to find an expert that’s right for you, but since you’re keeping metrics you should know pretty quickly. I’m not ready to call myself an expert yet, but hopefully this blog helps someone out there.

You can google “weight loss” or “personal finance” and get literally millions of tips. I’m sure many of them are very helpful. But if you don’t follow the 4 guidelines above, all the tips in the world won’t get you where you want to be.

Special note to Seattleites: please join Rose, my wife Venessa, and other local food bloggers on Saturday at the U-district farmer’s market for Will Bake For Food, a bake sale with proceeds benefiting The Emergency Feeding Program.

When: Saturday, November 12th, 2011
11am-2pm (or until they run out!)

Where: University Heights Center
5031 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Why: Because everyone needs healthy, nutritious food. The Emergency Feeding Program’s mission is to provide an emergency response to the nutritional needs of people in crisis hunger situations throughout Seattle and King County.

How: Bring your sweet tooth, along with non-perishable food items or a monetary donation. For a list of the items the Emergency Feeding Program needs most, click here (PDF).

Hope to see you there!