Alrighty… since we started this conversation on beef, let’s go ahead and wrap it up, eh?
It’s not necessarily cheaper to buy local beef in bulk any more. You’ll remember from last time that the industry has become so efficient that it’s nearly impossible for a local farmer to be able to match grocery store prices.
We are a society that links convenience with choice with quality. Unfortunately, those three things are seldom found in the same package. We walk into a store and expect socks, crackers, and motor oil to all be available… and on sale. When we scream through the produce aisle, we want bananas and tomatoes and peppers all the time… seasons be damned. The meat counter is no exception. We want family-packs of chicken breast- 12 pieces. That’s 6 birds in one package, folks. Doubtful they came from the same farm. We want our ground beef the same way: in bulk and on sale. The problem is, the beef you’re looking at? Those beautiful steaks? All from different cows from different farms with different programs and weather and feed and families. That’s not choice, Friends. That’s supply.
Which is FINE if you’re ok with less control over your food. There are really good options at the store. But there are really good options right around the corner, too.
What if you could pay the same amount for your beef… maybe slightly more… a have it all cut exactly to your preference? Be assured the ground beef you are eating is from one cow, from one farm as opposed to a combination of hundreds of cows from all across the country? Know the farmer and the family and the lifestyle of that food your fueling your life with? Yes. I would pay for that. I would. I do, now. Honestly, before we started this whole farm, I’d never really given it much thought.
You have a choice… a real choice. You can look up a local farmer who has a little extra to sell… just like our family. You can make a decision based on distance and feed options and plain ol’ personality instead of blindly tossing a plastic-wrapped package into your cart. I bet there’s food nearby you didn’t even know about. These websites will help you out:
There are some negatives, of course. You have to pay up front. You won’t have an endless supply of porterhouse steaks like the grocery store. The butcher prolly isn’t right around the corner, so it may be a drive to pick up your order. And, of course, you have to be able to store the meat you buy. A quarter of a cow fits in a freezer the size of the one that came with your fridge- about 5 cubic-feet of space. And a quarter of a cow will easily feed a couple or small family for a year. A quarter from our farm costs about $500 and gets you about 100 pounds of beef. (Remember, longhorns are slightly smaller than traditional beef cattle.) That works out to $9 per week- for steaks, for stew meat, for ground beef… all cut and packaged exactly how you like it, from one animal. Three-pound roasts? No problem. Two steaks in a package, one-inch thick? Great. Pre-cut hamburgers? Absolutely. All from one source- that you hand-picked.
THAT is choice, Friends.
I think it’s an easy choice. It’s not an easy transition, what with the planning ahead and the interviewing famers and buying a little freezer and everything. I know. It does take a little effort initially. But, it’s worth every penny. I don’t want you paying supermarket prices for a sub-par product. Next year, take that same amount of money… everything you spent on meat for one year, and put it into a local farmer’s operation. You’ll get better meat and more peace of mind.
PLUS, some of those farmers? They’re really fun people, and you’d be glad to know them.
Next week, we’ll talk real quick-like about how the pricing actually breaks down. It involves spreadsheets and division for the nerd in all of us.