A Guide to Choosing Your Meat by Season

Winter is here. Do you know what meat is in season?

We tend to forget that meats have seasons, the same way as fruits and vegetables. Factory farms try to get every kind of meat to market every day of the year, but at considerable cost—both in terms of money and the quality of the meat. Animals that can follow the ebb and flow of the year through their natural life cycles produce healthier, tastier meat when slaughtered in their proper season. So if you’re interested in eating the healthiest, freshest, and most humanely raised meat available, you should learn the seasons for your favorite meats.

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Many animals are at their fattest and healthiest just as they prepare for winter, especially grazing livestock, who naturally eat best while the grass is healthy. The rule in the winter is, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Organically raised and grass-fed pigs and cows have just been slaughtered after packing on weight for winter. (Lamb is the exception—it’s in season in the spring and summer.) The meat from animals that have spent months eating grass, rather than hay and grain-based feed, is much higher in Omega-3s besides being tastier and more nutritious in general. It may not be grilling season then, but it is the time for the best steaks and pork chops. Venison is in season from December to about February. Game animals, it’s worth noting, are even more seasonal than farmed livestock.

At the same time, fowl is going out of season in the winter. Chicken is at its best in the summer and completely out of season by December. You can always get chicken at the supermarket, of course, but watch the prices go up as the temperature drops. Time is running out for duck and goose, too, with their seasons tapering off in the early winter. Turkeys will last a bit longer, but their peak is in November.

Eating animals in their proper season means eating meat at its best. It encourages more humane, organic farming practices. It also encourages us to think more about the animals that feed us—and hopefully, to appreciate them more. So come to your local Edmonton meat market and ask the experts at D’Arcy’s Meats what’s in season today.

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