This is the story of a man, a cow, and a question: What am I eating?
After realizing he knew more about television on his wall than the food on his plate, award-winning TV producer and amateur chef Jared Stone buys 420 pounds of beef directly from a rancher and embarks on a hilarious and inspiring culinary adventure. With the help of an incredibly supportive wife and a cadre of highly amused friends, Jared offers a glimpse at one man's family as they try to learn about their food and ask themselves what's really for dinner.
Year of the Cow follows the trials and tribulations of a home cook as he begins to form a deeper relationship with food and the environment. From meeting the rancher who raised his cow to learning how to successfully pack a freezer with cow parts, Stone gets to know his bovine and delves into our diets and eating habits, examining the ethnography of cattle, how previous generations ate, why environmentalists and real food aficionados are mad for grass-fed beef, why certain cuts of beef tend to end up on our plates (while boldly experimenting with the ones that don't), and much more.
Over the course of dozens of nose-to-tail meals, Jared cooks his way through his cow armed with a pioneering spirit and a good sense of humor. He becomes more mindful of his diet, makes changes to his lifestyle, and bravely confronts challenges he never expected—like how to dry beef jerky without attracting the neighborhood wildlife to the backyard, and how to find deliciousness in the less-common cuts of meat like the tongue and heart—sharing a recipe at the end of each chapter. By examining the food that fuels his life and pondering why we eat the way we do, Jared and his family slowly discover to how live a life more fully—and experience a world of culinary adventures along the way.
Stone, a television producer in L.A., buys an entire butchered, grass-fed cow barely squeezing it into a freezer in his backyard to learn more about the food his family eats, as well as to connect to his Kansas upbringing. As he starts to cook the cow, the experience changes various aspects of Stone's life. First, it causes a culinary revolution in his house, as he begins to pay more attention to what and how he cooks, including an eight-dish holiday feast, and beef-tongue tacos (which he includes his recipes for). Becoming more mindful of what he eats makes Stone more mindful of how he lives his life. As he tries the paleo diet, barefoot running, and shaving with an old-school straight razor, Stone sees the benefits of adopting ideas from the past that have been pushed aside by a world where everything is processed and disposable. He sprinkles in some more technical information about his cow's lineage, feedlots, processed foods, and industrialized diets, but Stone is at his best when he tells his own story with an affable, matter-of-fact style that is humorous and touching. His story is fun to consume and easy to digest.