Debut author Stone, Emmy-winning TV producer, wrangles a lively, informative, sometimes-intimate tale from his family's adventure eating a freezer full of beef over two years of culinary and lifestyle change.
The author wanted to feed his family in the most environmentally and ethically responsible way without becoming a caricature of a fad-following New-Age epicure. Solution: whole foods; a whole cow, to be precise. Why beef? Partly as an homage to a Midwestern childhood “near the cattle trails of the High Plains.” But mainly because he wondered how the experience of eating the entire grass-fed animal—free of antibiotics and growth hormones—might affect his mind and body. Cooking it respectfully, learning the vagaries of each individual cut, would also make him more than a passive consumer. It would reacquaint him with where his food actually came from, with ancestral foodways in eclipse, and maybe even help him find a “doorway to a more soulful life.” Stone provides a primer on prime beef (choice, etc.), as well as a cattle history lesson stretching back nearly 9,000 years and a cautionary tale about how the post–World War II obsession with convenience and processed foods not only has deflected us from healthier and more fulfilling means of feeding ourselves, but infected all areas of life with a ticking-clock mentality. More, the author braises his book in his family’s values. Most “charming domestic scenes” one is subjected to are anything but, but Stone's revealing set pieces are warm, winning and welcome. Readers will feel like guests in their home, privy to private fears and joys as well as gastronomic triumphs and catastrophes.
Though Stone engages in a few meandering asides and perhaps tries to extract too much meaning from rather prosaic subjects, he nonetheless offers provocative thoughts on our carnivorous history and contemporary options, adding some tantalizing snout-to-tail recipes.