There are so many great reasons to buy bulk meat from your local farmer. You might not have considered many of these! Time-to-table and transportation are a few that can be shocking!
1. Save money
When you buy meat by the quarter, half, or whole animal, you are saving the farmer time and money.
When a farmer sells meat "by the cut", they have to pay a very expensive USDA processor to butcher the meat, package it with special USDA approved labels, and then store the meat in a regulated and inspected freezer. There are permits, strict regulations, and health department inspections involved and this process is very expensive as well as time consuming.
When you buy bulk, the animal is sold to you, delivered to the butcher to be processed and then it's yours. The savings to the farmer are passed on to you in the form of bulk, "on the hoof" pricing.
It's a good deal for everyone!
2. Provide healthier food for you and your family
Locally raised, pastured meats are just better for you! When you choose a farm that allows their animals to have unlimited access to pasture and high quality food, you get a better tasting and healthier meat product for you and your family.
Usually, small farms use less medications and other chemical medical interventions.
This isn't always the case but don't hesitate to ask your farmer what medications, vaccinations, antibiotics, or hormones the animals have been exposed to. Getting this better quality meat ties in directly to reason #7 that you'll read about below! (Hint - you can talk directly to the person raising food for your family - the farmer!)
--> Did you know? Special vet checks and mandatory vaccinations are part of the process when you ship animals across state lines. If your farmer isn't shipping the animals to feed lots or far away processing facilities, there's more flexibility to stick to natural practices while maintaining much healthier animals. Another great reason to shop local!
3. Cut out the middle man (Feed lots, distribution centers, mass production systems, etc.)
When you buy commercial meats, that animal and then the meat product, is loaded up in trucks, moved around for who knows how long, and passed through dozens of hands before it gets to your dinner table... (gross!) When you buy directly from the farmer, it's just you, the farmer, and the custom butcher shop.
4. Cut out costly and unhealthy transportation
Have you ever driven through a rural area and seen fields of beautiful cows eating away at lush grass? Did you know that a majority of those cows are loaded up onto big trucks and shipped out west to feedlots?
Most feedlots and big processing facilities are out west so that's where they're taken. The way the system is setup, big farmers don't have much of a choice in order to unload their stock and get paid. It's a bad system but it's a hard cycle to break.
Not only is it a bad system, it's an unhealthy one. Shipping animals under these conditions exposes them to disease and stress, neither of which is what you want for the food you're eating.
BUT - YOU can do something to counteract this and prevent your food from being shipped all over the country - buy from a local farmer instead!
5. Fresher meat - Cut the time from farm to table
Where does your food come from?
You might be surprised to learn what commercial meat goes through before it reaches your table. Here's a sample lifecycle of that burger you just picked up:
Buying your meat directly from a local farmer skips most of those ugly steps. Your farm fresh food makes it to your home as soon as the butcher is finished!
6. You can use a local, custom butcher instead of USDA
There are two types of meat processors, aka: butchers.
The biggest is a USDA certified facility. The use of this type of facility is required whenever a farmer is selling meat "by the cut". These facilities follow strict and expensive rules and have to pay for a USDA inspector to be on-site for most of the process. This is expensive, and naturally, that cost is passed to the farmer and then to you.
The other type of processor is called a custom butcher. This is your local guy that is also regulated and inspected but doesn't have to pay the costly fees to be USDA certified or pay for the on-site inspector. When you buy bulk, you are essentially buying the live animal (or a share of a live animal). When the animal is yours and no longer owned by the farmer, you can use the services of a custom butcher. The cost is significantly lower so your final meat product costs you far less than if you had purchased it by the cut like you do in the store.
With that said, we use both types of processors. USDA doesn't mean bad. One of our favorites is USDA certified. They make the BEST scrapple! Unfortunately they are very busy and it sometime takes up to two years notice to get a spot for a beef cow! Another reason why the local, custom butchers are great to have around!
7. Direct contact with the farmer
When you buy local, you can speak directly to the source. You can ask about how the animals were raised, their health, exposure to medications and anything else that's important to you.
8. Support sustainable, regenerative farming practices
Regenerative farming is so much more than labels such as "organic" or"non-gmo".
To us, these labels are nothing more than a pay-to-play scheme. (But that's a whole other blog topic, ha!)
As regenerative farmers, we believe that it's our duty to restore the health of the environment through natural practices, rotational grazing, and bio friendly methods. We don't use chemicals or synthetic fertilizers - we just use nature! When the land is cared for properly, you don't need any of that stuff. The result is healthier land, healthier animals, and healthier food on your table.
By shopping from your local farmer (US!), you are supporting this mission!
9. Support a small business farm & keep your money local
This one is easy - shopping local supports small businesses, your community, and the business of small family farms. We thank you for your support and contribution to the community!