Finding locally grown, organic produce in Miami is easier these days, particularly during Florida's whacky winter harvest season. Finding protein on par with it, however, is a whole different game that requires more time and research to ensure you get what you pay for.
Forager Juan Rochaix, owner of Seriously Organics, scours the state for produce for many of Miami's favorite restaurants. He's trying to set up a protein-buying club to help South Floridians snag pastured proteins, pastured eggs, and fresh butter at reasonable prices.
"We need people to connect back with the protein they're eating and not just think, Oh well, this tastes good," he says.
See also: Foraging, South-Florida Style
The problems with protein in the modern food system are seemingly endless. There's no shortage of animal rights groups' videos of egg-laying chickens with laser-cut beaks packed into cramped cages full of feces. Others show sows, stuffed into in crates just large enough for their bodies, that are forced to reproduce over and over and over; some of them actually go crazy due to lack of stimulus, chewing the bars until their mouths bleed. Beef cows are pumped full of hormones and steroids and then fed a lifetime of genetically modified corn to get that delicious marbling we pay a hefty sum for at chic steak houses.
"I don't want to be preachy, but your life does change, how you feel changes, when you eat the protein you're supposed to," Rochaix says.
If he's able to launch his meat-buying club and you join, expect the option of ordering two different-size boxes -- one 10 to 15 pounds and another about 25 pounds -- filled with familiar cuts of beef and lamb and perhaps sausages or bread.
But don't expect all the proteins to be local. South Florida's sandy soil isn't an ideal place for growing grass or grazing animals. Rochaix has hooked up with a Virginia pig farmer raising acorn-fed hogs. More grass-fed beef will come from North Florida -- as it does at Miami Shores' Proper Sausages. Other items, such as pastured eggs, could be pulled from places like Homestead's PNS Farms.
At the moment, the only similar program is a biweekly delivery outfit called My Healthy Food Club. Members who pay $35 annually lease animals from Amish country farmers and can create à la carte deliveries that could include duck eggs, goat's milk, and pastured goose legs.
Rochaix is looking for investors and to cobble together enough buyers to begin bringing in full carcasses and butchering them to keep costs down.
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"There's power when you buy whole animals, and there's also an art in the butchering," he says.
If Rochaix's idea interests you, bombard the Seriously Organic Facebook page to get it going.