And yet ANOTHER meat counter encounter

You guys, I am really feeling the loss of my Grandma’s awesome orange tupperware — I know it was plastic, but it was such a perfect container for the meat counter, especially for ground beef and pork chops. Now that I’m using half-gallon jars, it’s not quite as easy. Or perfect. I’ve yet to get a pork chop because I don’t think they’ll fit.

Not as handy as the orange tupperware -- the mouth isn't as large -- but these things are solid.

Not as handy as the orange tupperware — the mouth isn’t as large — but these things are solid.

I can usually go a few weeks between visits to the meat counter because I like to buy in bulk and then cook it all, freezing it in portions (including thinly sliced for Eric’s sandwiches) so I can just pull out what I need as I need it.

Anyway, last Saturday I took in two of my jars specifically for meat. We were out of chicken, and also I’m kind of tired of chicken, so I wanted to get some hamburger. (Eric grilled it all for me Sunday night, adding to the awesomeness factor.) I hit the store about 7 p.m., which was actually a pretty good time to go, since it was fairly empty. The kid behind the counter is the one who’s mind was blown a few months back that led to my epiphany (“I’m trying to reduce my trash.” Such a simple sentence, but so powerful), and when I asked for that chicken in this jar, he told me to put it on the scale so he could tare it, then proceeded to fill it like a pro.

I really like that kid.

But as he was filling it (chicken was on sale, so I told him I’d take whatever fit in the jar), an acquaintance came up to check out the kabobs. Whatcha doing? she asked, and I was all, Oh, just causing a ruckus at the meat counter.

Here’s another person in real life who doesn’t know what I’m doing. Well, she does now.

So she’s looking at my container, watching the kid put the sticker on and ask what else I’d like. Hamburger, I say, like enough for four patties, and he’s on it. That’s clever, she says, and I’m like, Well, I stole the idea from someone else, but it’s an awesome way to reduce your trash. It’s also kind of fun trying to get the meat out later, and she laughed and said, I was wondering about that.

More and more people are bringing containers, the kid said then, like I bet for every 100 people, two or three do. It’s getting more common. That doesn’t seem like a lot to me, but apparently it is to him — and I guess the fact that they must see hundreds of people in a day adds up to something too.

But that made me happy. I’m not alone!

We said our goodbyes, and as I was leaving, it occurred to me that I should have added that it’s actually not hard to get the meat out of my jars at all — and it’s way cleaner. No paper or plastic wrap or trays mucking up the counter, and you can just toss the whole ordeal in the dishwasher and be done with it. As a germaphobe, I really appreciate that.


I caused a different kind of ruckus beforehand, this time with homemade tamales. (We have such great authentic Mexican food in Oregon, I can’t even tell you.) They were selling them prewrapped in foil — not great, but not terrible — and then putting the packages into plastic ziplock bags for people to carry. More crowds, more people I know, more potential weirdness.

Well, whatever.

So when it’s my turn, I order a dozen and say, I’m trying to cut down on plastic and I’d like them just as they are, which caused a bit of alarm on the vendor’s side — he was afraid I’d burn myself because they were so hot. Can you just put them in my sweater? I asked, holding it out. He looked dubious and repeated that they were really hot. I totally accept all responsibility! I laughed, and he laughed then too, and handed them to me with my hands safely protected by my trusty gray cardigan. It wasn’t so much that he wanted to push the plastic on me as it was that he wanted me to be safe. I can appreciate the sentiment, but I was so happy that he honored my request.

And the tamales were delicious.

And also: My girls were watching. Good job, Mom, Abby said later. Constant vigilance, you guys, that’s the key.

Next up: Haven’t decided. There’s just so dang much to write about …

8 Responses to And yet ANOTHER meat counter encounter

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading your updates. They have inspired me to look at the amount of waste our family creates and try to reduce. I’m hoping you’ll take this as an idea for thought and not a criticism. The meat industry contributes an enormous proportion of both our water usage and our carbon dioxide emissions. So, by asking the folks at the meat counter to put your product in a reusable container, I really feel like you are missing the point – you should be forgoing the meat all together if you want to have the biggest impact on our environment. I would suggest watching the documentary Cowspiracy (maybe as a family). Our family has been plant based for about 2 years now, mainly for environmental reasons. Cowspiracy definitely helped convince the teenagers in the household. Just a thought…. Again, love reading your updates

    • Hi, Jen,
      I really love the manner you used to bring up this issue. I, too, am vegetarian (not completely plant based, but we have food allergies at my house, including soy. We keep our own chickens.) but I think the issues brought up here apply often to me. I’m planning to go shopping today, and need jars for olives, dolmas, and feta. I will be bold when I shop, and hopefully today I will mention why I bring my own jars (as opposed to just being the crazy woman who refuses the free plastic carton).

    • Yes completely agree with you Jen, five of our six family members are vegetarian and two (including myself) almost vegan. It is actually such an incredibly easy lifestyle choice to make these days and I wake up every day happy that we are not eating animals (pretty sure the animals would be happy also!), so much better for our health and for the environment.

  2. Jen and Roberta!

    You bring this up very diplomatically, Jen, and no, I take no offense — I like hearing different points of view. How else can we learn?

    So, about the meat-eating:

    Eric is a hunter, and generally we have elk and deer in the freezer, wrapped in butcher paper from the butcher shop. (Or butcher place, I think people just bring their animals in.) We have also been purchasing pork from our nephews — FFA kids — after the fair. I feel like these animals are humanely raised and harvested (I mean, not even raised in the case of deer and elk, they’re just frolicking around out there, but the pigs had names) and very environmentally processed (how’s that for a euphemism?).

    Last year, there was one elk split between four families. It was gone around April. And my nephews are now in college and we don’t have that in anymore on the pork front. We have family farms out here, and I’d love to get a half a pig and a quarter of beef … but with Eric’s hunting, usually there’s no need to buy any.

    So yeah, I’ve been getting beef and chicken in jars to get us by until November (hunting season). The beef is Painted Hills, which is a farmers’ co-op here in Oregon — I am very anti-CAFO — but you’ve got me on the chicken. Supposedly the brand I get is certified humane … but I’m not as confident about that claim as I am about the beef. I need to ask better questions next time I’m at the store.

    We don’t eat a lot of meat — that chicken I bought on Saturday will last several weeks — but I do like to have it as an option, to add into stir fry or tacos or whatever. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works for us.

    But I also, just personally, feel like we could make the environmental argument about anything we consume. I mean, my chocolate and coffee, while fair trade organic, are still two of the worst growing industries for farmers — they get paid literally nothing — and the processing of both isn’t all that environmental, either, not to mention deforestation, etc. I’m reading “Confessions of an Eco-Sinner,” and basically what I’m learning is that everything is tainted. It’s depressing as hell and makes me want to never buy anything again and live on air and water. But I can’t … so I do what I can and hope for the best.

    Again, thank you for commenting! It’s a lot to think about … and I wish I had a better answer.

  3. I was vegetarian for many years and not very healthy due to it. I am celiac, allergic to soy, lactose intolerant and have other dietary issues so clearly it was almost impossible to get all my nutrients without resorting to supplements but, as Gaylord Hauser famously said, “I trust nature more than I trust the scientists.” (And my father was a scientist).

    I can’t help but wonder if people stop to examine aspects of their lifestyle before criticising others. Do they drive a car or truck , live in a larger than totally necessary house, use heating, air conditioning, have more clothes, shoes, or anything more than they really need, use air travel, have more than two kids, etc. eEtc. You are right, Trisha, we are ALL contributing to environmental destruction – it’s just always too easy to point the finger at the other guy. I choose to think that we are all doing the best we can, given our circumstances, and there is more to be gained by supporting each other than in criticizing each other, however delicately we try to word it .

  4. Have you ever read “The 100 Mile Diet” or Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?”. Both books advocate what has come to be known as locovorism (??) and it seems to me that you try to practice that as well with your shopping and Eric’s hunting.

    I live on a small island off Canada’s East Coast. There are only 2 months of the year that we are unlikely to get frost (but we can, even in July or August). Naturally we eat a lot of seafood but we do have a few farmers who have a small meat production – usually sold at Saturday’s market or by request. Personally, I find that eating whatever is local and in season is more environmentally friendly than choosing a diet that requires foods that have to be shipped in . Of course, where you live impacts that – only coastal dwellers should eat seafood using that criteria !!! (So glad I live by the sea ) Winter means mostly root vegetables and anything from the garden that has been frozen or canned. Boy, do we look forward to those first feeds of asparagus and rhubarb in the spring (and I use the word “spring” loosely – more like cold mud season!)

    • I love “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” and have actually been thinking I need to read it again. We definitely vote local over anything else, even organic (although a lot of our local farms ARE organic, they’re just not certified), and we do eat in season. And very well, thanks to our farmers. I’ve got a big list of canning projects for this month to get us through winter … had to take a break because my dishwasher and stove are being jerks.

      I have not read “100 Mile Diet,” though, but I’ll add that one to my list. I think I’ve heard of these people, though — didn’t they more or less start the locovore movement? Thanks for the suggestions!

      (Oh, and cold mud season … that really did make me laugh out loud.)

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