It occurred to me that since so many of us are from countries other than the U.S. (I happen to be from the U.S.; I don't assume paleohacks has an official US-American residence) that we could collect here information about what meat production/husbandry (maybe agriculture also) is like in our various countries.
We need not go into as much detail as there is on this paleohacks thread about Ireland, although that would of course be great. I was thinking that even general impressions about other countries would be very enlightening. So for example, probably all of us living in the States could say something like: "Beef in the US is generally grain-fed or corn-fed. If you want the good stuff, you need to go to farmers markets or certain outstanding grocery stores. These are the grocery stores: x, y, z. This is how you find farmers markets: a, b, c." Etc., etc. Such a description is, as I said, something all of us in the U.S. could easily give about the U.S. But when it comes to other countries, I suspect we are clueless. But my hunch is that paleohacks readers who have lived or are currently living in other countries might find it just as easy to give such descriptions for those other countries.
So maybe we could gather all that information here. I think it would be very helpful for traveling (maybe some selfish motivation here, since I'm going to Europe soon). But it would probably also be of interest in itself.
[Edit, response to Matthew:] I'm mostly curious about Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. But somewhat curious about everything.
My Australian pride has been boosted so much since going primal - even as the daughter of a sheep and cattle farmer, I never before understood how lucky we are to have so many healthy, naturally-operating farms supplying our meat. We even have a booming permaculture & kitchen garden community, as well as the established organic and bio-dynamic farms already in successful operation. There are multiple farmers markets in every city - even in small towns now - and it's easy to buy direct from farmers.
Lamb is our major export, with more meat leaving our shores than consumed locally. But that's not to say Aussies don't eat a lot of lamb! Although we're a country of frequent drought, states such as Victoria and Tasmania still stay fairly green for most if not all of the year, and our sheep all range freely on grass and crops such as clover and alfalfa. Although the major supermarkets demand that supply farms treat their animals with antibiotics to cover legal issues, on the whole supermarket lamb is grass-fed and very low in added chemicals. Additionally, organic and bio-dynamic lamb is readily available, and if you buy direct from small farms, it can be cheaper than supermarket meat. Even the organic meats tend to be grass-fed, since it's cheaper to maintain organic grass crops than sow or buy organic grain.
Beef is produced similarly to lamb, although I have found that organic beef tends to be supplemented or finished on grain. Grain-fed beef is still treated like a gourmet product in Aussie restaurants, since it's pricier (apparently) to produce and is more tender (apparently) than the grass-fed meat available in the supermarket. Supermarket beef is more likely to carry anti-biotics despite most being raised on grass. Again, going direct to farmers can be an affordable way to avoid the anti-biotics and other nasties, as well as dodging the hefty price tag of the organic label, and not passing your bucks onto the big supermarkets chains.
Pastured & free-range chicken is still a developing industry, but there are a few farms raising chickens naturally, though they struggle. Organic chickens and eggs are almost undoubtedly raised on 'a vegetarian diet' - corn. Organic and free-range (though the level of free-rangedness is questionable) chicken and eggs are readily available in big supermarkets and at the farmers markets. Again, there are small-scale farmers following in the footsteps of Joel Salatin, so you can get the good stuff if you're in the right place.
Kangaroo is our most common game meat, with an individual company now supplying supermarkets with various roo products. Many restaurants will have a token roo dish, though Aussies sometimes have issues with eating our national emblem & mascot, especially if we grew up watching "Skippy"... ;) Personally, I think it's amazing, and to know that they're sustainable and have less impact on the precious topsoil just makes the meat even tastier.
Other local game that you can get at markets and in restaurants include crocodile, snake, and emu (though, oddly enough, emu is easier to find in Canada than in Australia...) Pork is also readily available, with a few free-range farms in operation, as well as some bio-dynamic piggeries in business if you look for them.
Australia is also famous for its seafood, and our fishing and squidding practices have improved in the past decade. Tasmania provides the country with most of its salmon, through its ocean farms that are gold-standard in their sustainable and responsible (healthy) practices. The farm I visited did not use anti-biotics, nor any unnatural colouring agents in the fish feed. I know this isn't always the case, and I can't speak for all the Tassie fish farms, but why pay for drugs if you don't make your animals sick? Anyway, I have access to wild-caught (on lines) salmon as well, so I usually buy that, especially since it's the same price as the supermarket salmon from Tassie, if not cheaper! The wide array of seafood in Australia is primarily wild-caught, and those practices are growing in sustainability. The boons of living on a huge island... We do import some seafood though, such as some prawns, some white fish, etc, but it is all clearly labeled at the supermarkets and fish markets.
There are also a few deer farms around the place, and other exotic creatures like bison and buffalo. With so much space and grass, farmers seem to find the courage to try new ventures.
I reckon Australia may well be the most paleo-friendly country (along with New Zealand): of food production is enviable, and then you can always go snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef or pop on the Vibrams and go for a MovNat crawl up Uluru! ;)
Sweden was pretty interesting. Pork is typically factory-farmed, though the factory-farms are much "nicer" than ours. Cheap pork is generally from Denmark, which has more lax regulations. Chickens are raised similarly— nicer, but no better from a health standpoint. The chicken operations I toured had chickens in a giant astroturf barn.
Grass-fed beef is hard to find and expensive. The best comes from Jarna, a biodynamic community.
There are a ton of supermarkets. Willys is very cheap (for Sweden) and doesn't have as many premium products. ICA or the Coop supermarkets are good mid-range choice.
I occasionally shopped at the farmer's market in Uppsala, which had no meat, but decent pastured eggs. The Stockholm farmer's market had some pastured beef, but it was very expensive.
Wild game meats are actually fairly affordable. Frozen reindeer is raised free-range up north. You can also buy wild moose. This is very different than the US, where it's illegal to sell wild animals. The cheap frozen brand I bought was Polarica.
Premium meats (good cuts of game, real butchers, and grass-fed meats) can be found in Stockholm at Hötorgshallen and in Uppsala at Saluhallen.
One thing I liked a lot was the lamb from Gotland (a coastal island), which is pastured at least part of the year.
When buying sausages and cheaper meat products, be on the lookout for "mjöl" which is flour. It's used as a filler and binder in many of these.
Fish is no good, which is surprising because it's a coastal nation, but the Baltic has been trashed. I never was able to find wild salmon. The best fish I found was Icelandic cod. The herring wasn't too bad either.
I was talking to a Swedish paleo recently and we agreed that the worst food in Sweden is better than the worst food in the US, but it can be difficult to get premium meats.
I would recommend visitors seek out reindeer and moose, as they are quite delicious and unique. Many restaurants serve them.
I'll make this a wiki so others can edit it.
I am from Poland (living in the US now), and sometimes I remark how "ahead of time" Polish agriculture was thanks to being "behind" ;-) Now it's probably changing rapidly, but for most of the time there was no big "meat factories". Milk was gathered each day from small, individual farmers who were bring their milk each morning to the village's/town's milk plant, which most of the time was producing the simple stuff - milk, cream, sour cream, kefir etc., all raw. And you were buying straight from their store or it was supplying the local grocery stores. Only bigger "factories" were making cheeses and so on. Now it's more commercialized, there is more national brands and less local. But it's not yet taken over completely.
It used to be quite similar with meat production. Of course under communism there were constant shortages, a lot of people had contacts with people living in villages, buying home-made meats, sausages, often buying half a pig or so to freeze. Meat used for commercial production was often supplied by small farmers and a bit bigger,"community" sized farms. Pastures are still extremely common, but I am not sure how much grain is fed now. Corn and soy are not popular, so that's not given for sure.
I know now instead of embracing the luckiness of being "behind" and jump straight into ecological, local, healthy, hormone-free etc., a lot of farmers will try to go the old road through shortcuts and mass production. I am not sure what are the EU laws, it might be they prevent it somehow.
In Germany farm sizes are regularly small - compaired to the USA - often family business.
Pigs are fed grain grist, potatoes, legumes, soy, forage beet, grass, hay, corn silage, straw, yeast, dairy, vegetable oils, minerals and rapeseed press cake... The percentages differ according to age of the pigs. Organical raised pigs are never fed GMOs, have more space to move, have lots of straw and regularly see the sunlight.
Beef cattle is mostly fed grain grist, grass, grass silage, hay, corn silage, minerals and rapeseed press cake. The percentage of grass fed beef is rising from yoaer to year - in our region you can find little herds of Charolais, galloways, Highland cattle or Black Angus everywhere.
Chicken and turkey are fed on grains, legumes, special pellets and different vegetable proteins.
Lamb is mostly imported frozen from New Seeland.
Wild game (boar and deer) is easy to find in our region - there are a lot of butchers that go hunting and sell the meat in their shops. Red Deer is often raised on farms. Pheasants, hare and wild duck are difficult to find...
Ireland has been already done for beef so I won't elaborate further there except to say that according to connoisseurs, three places in the globe have the best steak, Argentina, South Africa and Ireland.
Chicken is similar to the US, 'corn-fed' chicken is considered gourmet and is particularly expensive.
There is a thriving culture of keeping chickens, at least where I live in the west. I get my eggs off a man who treats his chucks very well indeed. The EU is soon to ban cage-eggs which I'm happy about.
Lamb is available all year round seemingly, but I'd say some are being liberal with the labelling and it's more likely to closer to mutton in the winter, which I don't mind 'cos I love mutton!
Pork is hardly ever free-range and free-range is hard to get without paying a massive premium.
Duck is increasing in popularity as farmers try to diversify.
The farmers in Ireland work under the bizarre EU Common Agriculture Policy, which guarantees farmers an income. So since we can't grow much grains (too wet for the most part), our government subsidizes meat and veggie production, so there could be worse things to be subsidizing..
Here's a link to grassfed meat in Sweden (in Swedish) http://www.kostdoktorn.se/omega-3/grasbeteskott; I don't think it's that difficult to buy. We do also have great organic chickens in Bosarp and plenty of organic meat at the Coop stores. I would say that the standard of the "regular" meat is better and hopefully it will get easier to buy grassfed meat in regular stores as well and not only the organic kind. I think it's all about getting to know the local farmer in the area and doing a little research, it's def. worth it.
In Argentina, hormones etc are forbidden from beef. Most beef is grass-fed, too (although 10 years ago, ALL was!). Very, very high quality - and cheap. On the other hand, chicken in Argentina has lots of hormones added, so I'd caution against chicken from here.
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