The Ethical Omnivore: food for thought
Ever wanted to know more about the meat you choose to eat? Looking for guidance on how to be a more conscious consumer? You’re far from alone, which is why Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard of Sydney’s ethical butchery Feather and Bone have released The Ethical Omnivore – the ultimate handbook on sustainable meat production and nose-to-tail eating.
Dalrymple says the inspiration behind the book initially came from Feather and Bone’s customers, who frequently approach the team to ask questions as they attempt to navigate their way through the minefield that is contemporary food culture.
“It’s really hard to know what you should eat, and it’s not getting any easier,” she says. “Every day we have people calling us or coming into the butchery and saying, ‘I’m really concerned about this, and I don’t know if I should even be eating meat’. And if they do eat meat, they want to know where it comes from, how it was grown, how it died.”
It can be quite difficult to find this type of information if you don’t know where to look or who to ask, but without it, it’s impossible to make a genuinely informed decision.
“We figure the more information we can provide people with, the more empowered they are to make the right choice for them,” Dalrymple says. “Because what’s the right choice for you and what’s the right choice for me might be completely different.
“We think it’s our responsibility to provide people with more information. And because people keep on asking us the same questions, we thought, let’s write a book – let’s try to answer all these questions and give people a guide for the sorts of questions we think they should be asking the people who are selling them food.”
Dalrymple and Hilliard are also extremely proud of and inspired by the farmers they represent, and saw a book as an opportunity to tell their stories.
“It can give people a message of hope,” Dalrymple says. “When people farm in a certain way, the landscape can be transformed really fast. We can save the planet if we do it the right way. There are people who are actually doing this work. Their stories should be told.”
The Ethical Omnivore will open up your eyes to a better way of farming, producing, selling and consuming meat, and shows us that by being informed, and by supporting sustainable food production systems, we can all make a difference.
“If the food system we’re supporting when we spend our money is one that aligns with our own values and ethics, it makes us feel better,” Dalrymple says. “It makes us feel more in control, because we’re supporting a system that’s part of the solution.”
As well as telling the story of ethical meat production, and the farmers who bring it to life, The Ethical Omnivore also includes recipes from Feather and Bone customers. Here, we share a recipe from customer Topher Boehm, of Wildflower Brewing and Blending.
Topher’s Tex-Mex skirt tortillas with sour cream and salsa
Prep time 10 minutes, plus marinating
Cooking time 10 minutes
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons or the flesh of 2 finger limes
1 cup finely chopped pineapple or 3 tbsp pineapple juice
3 tbsp dry white wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 dried chilli
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1kg skirt steak, trimmed of membrane and excess fat
Tortillas, sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole and lime wedges, to serve
1. Mix up all the ingredients, except the steak, with a splash of water in a large bowl. Add steaks, refrigerate, and let them have a bath in the liquid for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Drain the marinade and cook steaks, turning once, over hot coals (or under a grill, or on a gas barbecue on high heat) for 8 to 10 minutes, until medium rare (but no longer or they’ll be tough). Skirt needs to be seared at high heat so it doesn’t stew and toughen.
3. Remove from heat, rest for about 10 minutes, then slice meat against the grain into long strips about the width of your pinkie finger.
4. Serve steak with tortillas, sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole and lime wedges.
The Ethical Omnivore is available in all good bookshops, Booktopia and Amazon UK, or you can order your copy here.