A Boistfort Valley farmer has inspired a former vegetarian from Seattle to write a new book about buying, butchering and preparing meat.
“Uncle Dave’s Cow and Other Whole Animals My Freezer Has Known,” which hit shelves this month, chronicles author Leslie Miller’s experience as she began buying locally raised beef, pork, goat and lamb and preparing healthy meals for her family.
“If I’m going to eat an animal, I’d like it to be raised well and slaughtered humanely,” said Miller, who was a vegetarian for more than a decade.
The busy mother of two became interested in purchasing whole, half and quarter animals after her brother bought a cow from their uncle Dave Fenn, a third-generation Boistfort Valley farmer, and sold her a quarter of the beef.
“It was fun because you get a bunch of cuts you might not get at the grocery store,” Miller said. “It’s somehow very satisfying.”
The Yakima native said some of the scare tactics surrounding commercial food annoyed her because the information never gave consumers a way to find and buy meat raised in a sustainable way. So she went to work learning how food gets from the farm to the fork and researching the various marketing labels on food – organic, grass-fed, natural, pastured, artisanal, heritage – to dispel the confusion in her book.
“It made it so much simpler to actually talk to the person raising the animal,” she said. “It made food about connection again.”
The book’s namesake, Uncle Dave Fenn, who farms 700 acres near Curtis, Wash., said the local food movement is growing, and there are a variety of reasons people should consider supporting area farmers rather than buying meat from a big-box retailer.
“In the long run it’s going to be cheaper,” he said. “Grass-fed beef is healthier, and I personally think it’s more flavorful.”
Fenn said consumers in the area have many options for buying whole, half and quarter animals and having them butchered and custom wrapped.
“It’s not a tiny industry,” he said. “A number of people do this.”