If you are one of the 97% of Americans who eat meat, you may want to reconsider where you are buying it. There are plenty of reasons you should buy your meat directly from a farmer, I have highlighted what I believe are the top nine reasons, in no particular order. If you are a farmer trying to sell your meat directly to the consumer, you can use these nine points to help you make the sale.
You are keeping your money local and supporting a small business. In today’s box-store, giant corporation economy there is something nice about supporting a small business. Small businesses account for over 99% of the businesses in America but account for less than half of our GDP. This means that we are giving most of our money to a few very large corporations. If you are going to spend $1,000 on meat this year anyway, why not put the money right in the dirty, work-worn hand of a farmer?
Knowing exactly where your meat comes from. For me, this is one of the top reasons I choose to raise my own meat. Did you know that America imports over 3 Billion pounds of beef every year? Most of that imported beef comes all the way from Australia. So you might ask yourself, “self, why would I buy a steak that took a cruise all the way from Down Under, when I drive by Farmer Joe’s pasture full of cattle everyday?” Well, that is a damn fine question to ask. I bet Farmer Joe would be more than happy to sell you some beef, just go ask him!
Knowing what is in your meat. This kind of goes hand and hand with #2, but buying a beef steer from a farmer and bringing it to a local butcher is a great way to know exactly what you are getting. A quick Google search will open your eyes about what is in your store bought meat. If you are brave enough to check it out, click here. If you weren’t brave enough to look for yourself, here are a few of the things that are in your beef; rat and human DNA, pork, turkey, water, ammonia, and citric acid. I don’t know about you, but none of that belongs in my beef. I know what is in my beef, BEEF!
Now commercial beef production isn’t the only area of concern, in the U.S. our commercial poultry industry has such low standards that Europe won’t even allow our chicken to be imported. Why, you might ask? Well, one reason is because in America we slaughter our chickens and then wash the carcass with chlorine to remove any bacteria. Now if the chemicals on your meat doesn’t bother you, what might bother you is the reason we give our birds a chlorine bath. Basically, these processing facilities are too large, too busy, and too automated, to ever keep them clean, so they give the birds a quick rinse with the same chemicals you use to clean your pool. If you want to see for yourself, click here. You can keep that chlorine soaked chicken, thank you very much. I prefer my chlorine in my hot tub, which reminds me, I wish I had a hot tub.
You will most likely be supporting a local butcher. I bring our livestock to Lakes Processing here in Detroit Lakes, it is owned by a guy named Brad. Brad’s son works for the same company I do. My neighbor used to work for Brad. Lakes Processing is a small, family run business, I’m sure there is a butcher shop near you just like it. Those are the kind of people and businesses I like giving my money to.
The meat is better. It looks better. It tastes better. Ask anyone who has bought their meat directly from a farmer, they will agree. It is pretty simple to me, give me the choice between a delicious steak from a local pastured raised steer or Lord knows what came on the boat from Down Under, and I’m taking the local beef every time. I had never done a side by side comparison of farm-raised beef and store-bought until I was preparing to write this blog. Check out the pictures below and see for yourself. After seeing the difference in the beef, I cooked the farm-raised beef and put the Wal-mart beef in the freezer, I’m not sure what I will do with it, I love our dogs too much to feed it to them.
You could save some money. If you buy a whole hog or a side of beef you will most likely get a better price because you are buying in bulk. I hope you noticed that I said you COULD save some money, not you WILL save money. We sold our pigs last year for $1.25/lb hanging weight and our steers for $2.50/lb. After processing costs and trimming our customers paid around $4/lb for the pork and $5/lb for the beef. Those prices may be higher or lower depending on your market and the product you are buying. Those prices seem pretty decent until you go to the grocery store and see that they have pork chops on sale for $1.99/lb. or ground beef for $2.99/lb. It is nearly impossible for me, or any other small farmer, to produce meat that cheap. It is true in most cases that you get what you pay for, and it is even more true when it comes to buying your meat. When you buy directly form a small farmer you are getting a superior product and therefore, a better value despite possible higher costs.
The animals you buy from a small farmer will most likely have lived a much better life than the animals that end up in the Wal-Mart meat case. I can’t speak for every small farmer out there, but the animals we raise are treated with dignity and respect. The conditions that many commercially raised animals find themselves in are less than ideal. Below you can see the difference between our pigpen and a commercial hog barn. I guarantee you, our pigs were much happier than the ones you see in that commercial hog barn. Now I have no idea if there is a correlation between an animal living a good life and producing tasty meat, but I could be convinced that it’s true. Now, call me a hippy or a softy, but even though we are raising these animals for the sole purpose of eating them, I believe they should live a good life while they are living.
This one is pretty simple, it is pretty convenient having a freezer full of meat in your house. It makes planning your meals and shopping lists easier because you know exactly what you have. No waiting to get to the store to see what looks good or what is on sale. We currently have two freezers packed to the top with pork, beef, and venison. It is a good feeling knowing that we have enough meat to last us the entire year.
You are literally saving the world. Feeding 7 billion people is no small task and the agriculture industry has figured out how to do it pretty well. Unfortunately for us all, industrial agriculture is also destroying our planet. Through fertilizer runoff, carbon emissions, soil erosion, and deforestation, industrial agriculture is having a huge impact on the environment. Now that isn’t to say that small farms are impervious to the environmental concerns, but small scale or “family farms” are not typically your major offenders. Plus, as previously discussed, we do things like importing beef all the way from Australia while also exporting beef to Europe. Talk about wasting gas!
There are probably more reason why you should buy your meat from a local farmer but those are the top nine in my opinion. If you are a farmer, I hope you can take this information and use it to help you sell some meat. For everyone reading this who doesn’t buy their meat from a local farmer, I promise I am not trying to scare you or shame you for buying your meat at the grocery store. My only intention for writing this was to show you that there is a better way to get your meat. Buying your meat directly from a small, local farmer is better for you, better for the economy, better for the animal, and better for the world.
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