I picked up 272 pounds of beef from a farm on Saturday, which cost me $1,088 ($4 per pound). I recently purchased a freezer (9 cubic feet) to put the meat in. Which if used only for this load of meat would increase the cost per pound marginally, but it will get additional use over the years that I own it, reducing the cost of purchasing it. Other than the freezer, I have basically pre-purchased most of a year’s worth of meat for my wife and I. We will still probably buy chicken and pork (mostly bacon), but not significant portions of it. There are a few reasons why I decided to buy my meat straight from the farm rather than going through the grocery store:
- It was cheaper: My wife and I have significantly increased our meat consumption over the past few months, as I discussed in a previous post around paleo/primal eating. Eating this way was having a very positive impact on our health, but was significantly more expensive than eating beans and rice a few days a week. The $4 per pound its cost is less than the majority of cuts of meat we were able to find at the store, even when it was on sale.
- I know where my food comes from: I visited the farm where my meat came from and seen the herd that my animal was coming from. When we went and picked up our frozen meat, we were given a tour of the farm. We walked the pasture that the animals were grazing in, discussed with the farmer his philosophy on the business he was in and saw the condition that my food grew in. Couple this experience to what I had been eating – that meat had probably grown up in something like this, which requires significant antibiotics. Likely because of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions and also because the grains that the cattle are being fed make the animals sick. Instead my beef had never been given drugs – it grew up on a pasture with plenty of room.
- My beef is “green”: Part of the problem with conventional farming is that it requires significant resources to produce a pound of meat. It takes a lot of energy to create the grains that are fed to livestock. The growing of the grains have a significant impact on the environment from tilling of the land, as well as the inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and pesticides. At some point in the future this is going to become a significant problem, which is discussed in two books I’ve read “The Vegetarian Myth” and “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization”. Instead I bought grass-fed and grass finished-meat. The grass just keeps growing with little inputs. When talking to the farmer while walking through his field, he noted that the land we were walking on was essentially bare 2 years ago when he started farming. Currently, it is an incredibly lush pasture that supports his herd of cattle – this farmer is actually helping the land rather than removing needed topsoil.
- It is Healthier : Grass-fed beef has been found to have a higher quantity of conjugated lineolic acid, which is thought to have anti-cancer properties.
These were the main reasons why I bought the beef from where I did. As a side-note, if you were to purchase the same amount of meat from a farmer who raised their animals in a grain-fed feedlot, you could save approximately 50% over what I spent. So, although the beef I bought was significantly cheaper than what can be found at the grocery store, it is possible to find cheaper meat straight from the farm. I chose to pay a premium for grass-fed beef because of the reasons noted above.
Do you buy your meat in bulk? Do you take an interest in where your food comes from? Do you pay a premium for organic or other specialized food?