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I’m not sure how this happened but everywhere I turn there are remnants of a humanely butchered animal. Now, before this comes off as morbid or disrespectful, this post is about eating the whole animal in order to reduce wastefulness and maximize nourishment. There’s just no gentle way of saying there are bits and pieces of animal carcass all over my kitchen.

Anyway, it seems that we’ve come into several sources of high-quality animal products.

This stuff will provide us with more nourishment than a hunk of grass-fed hamburger. It will provide more calories than a jar of canned meat. It will turn what is often viewed as a waste product into something incredibly nourishing and worthy of the highest ranking in the world of humble food.

And not a one of these products is a cut of meat most people like to bring home from the grocery store.

It all started months ago when our neighbors took their pigs to the butcher. They brought back a couple of bags of lard that needed rendering and since they didn’t have the time I was happy to barter my time for a large quantity of the fat. It turns out the butcher had two more bags in their freezers and suddenly they were sitting in coolers in front of our house.

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So now I’m rendering pots of lard on our wood stove.

Meanwhile, a couple of months ago a neighbor butchered a longhorn cow. At the time we bought some meat from them and canned it. Soon thereafter a delivery of all of the odd bits came to our door. Our solar freezer is now full of liver, kidney, heart, and tongue all waiting to become meals or dried supplements of some sort.

I should probably also mention that I don’t love liver or kidney or heart and neither does our family. I eat it because I know I should and when the organ meats are fresh and from high quality animals, it really isn’t that much of a chore. Cooking liver takes a couple of tricks, though, like don’t overcook it and definitely cook it with plenty of fat. But a little bacon and onions or chilies and garlic can transform it into something fairly tasty.

Anyway, now our freezer is stocked with months worth of organ meats for a weekly nourishing meal.

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To top it off, last week another neighbor butchered one of their longhorn steers. When they asked if we wanted the liver we said sure! They brought it over still warm and we cooked some up the next day. I’ll spare you the photos of liver, just in case you’re squeamish, but there must have been at least five pounds there. We’ve eaten off it twice and have plans for one more meal and will let the chickens have the rest.

Oh, and then they came by with two big coolers full of bones from the butchering. Yes, please, and thank you! Seriously, if you’re not making bone broth you are missing out on a slew of goodness.

So now we’re filled up with grass-fed liver, which might be the most nutrient-dense of foods. There are three pots of stock simmering away on our burners. And to top it all off I’ve got one pot of lard to strain out and store and another to start rendering on the wood stove.

These may not be the most glamorous of animal products but they sure are good for you, not to mention either free or cheap. And since we’re heading towards raising our own animals for meat, I’m happy to get some practice in eating the whole animal.

What less-desirable parts of the animal do you eat?