If you've ever done any amount of reading or watched some of the latest food documentaries (Food Inc, Food Matters, Fresh, etc) then you will know how important it is to know where your food comes from. In an effort to improve our health and stop supporting the large factory farms that are filling our grocery stores with junk we decided to purchase a portion of a local grass-fed cow from a nearby small family farm. After doing some online research and seeing some of these food documentaries I knew that we needed to make some changes to our shopping and eating habits. It just so happened that a friend posted on facebook about going in with a group to purchase a cow. I was in immediately! We are fortunate to live in an area that has a number of farms nearby where healthy meat options are available. It is important to find a farm that practices sustainable farming meaning they farm using methods that protect the environment, protect public health and uphold animal welfare. The cows should be free to wander grass pastures and live and eat in a manner that is instinctive to them. It also means that there is no need for antibiotics, something large factory farms use to combat the unsanitary conditions feedlot cows are made to "live" in. Sustainable farms also do not use growth hormones to make the cows larger than God created them to be. They basically live the way they were meant to live. Happier, healthier cows means healthier beef on your table. We also intend to buy some free-range chicken and eggs from another small local farm :)
This post is just a simple FYI as to what you might expect if you decide you want to purchase your own grass-fed cow portion.
We decided to start small for our first time just so we could get a feel for the process and see how long it takes for us to go through the meat. We ordered a 1/4 but split that evenly with my parents so the order that you see in this post is actually an 1/8. The butcher that processes your beef may vary in his cutting method but ours cuts the steer by halves. If you order a 1/4 he pairs you with another 1/4 order that has a similar cut sheet. In our case the other 1/4 was a friend and we ended up with the exact same cut sheet (by chance). If you are anything like me I had no idea what kinds of cuts to request so the butcher provided a list of each portion of the cow and what cuts can be made with each. He also listed the standard cuts to give you an idea of a typical order. Most of our cuts were similar to the standard sheet but we did make a number of changes that better suited our eating habits. Once we placed our order our steer went to butcher about a week later...kind of a sad thought but it is the truth about where meat comes from. I think it is important for kids to know where meat comes from as well. They don't need to know all the details (if they are young) but they should understand that an animal had to die so that they can eat. I believe this helps them appreciate their food and the process it takes for it to get put on the table. Maybe that's just me.
We got the pick-up call yesterday (which was about 2-3 weeks after butcher) letting us know that the farmer himself would be delivering the meat at a pick up spot down the road from us. This is our order breakdown.
1/8 Grass-Fed Cow @ $3.50/lb hanging weight (the weight before cutting with skin removed but bone remaining)
Our original hanging weight for a 1/4 was 137.7lbs but we split it down the middle with my parents (for payment purposes) which made our portion 68.85lbs. Our farmer charges $3.50 hanging weight which is comparable to many other farms in our area.
Our Cost: $240.98
Our Actual Beef Breakdown: 45.53 lbs (this is what we brought home)
Ground Beef: 18 packs (19 lbs)
Stew Beef: 4 packs (4.615 lbs)
Ribs: 2 packages (3.45 lbs)
Bottom Round Roast: (2.745 lbs)
Sirloin Tip: (2.445 lbs)
Chuck Roast: (2.26 lbs)
London Broil: (2.67 lbs)
Filet Mignon Tenderloin: (.505 lbs) 8oz
Ribeye Steak: 2 packs (1.675lbs)
Cube Steak: (.820 lbs) 13oz
Eye of Round: (.57 lbs)
Philly Steak: (.515 lbs)
NY Strip: (.855 lbs)
Sirloin Steak: 2 packs (2.36 lbs)
Flank Steak: 2 packs (1.055 lbs)
Soup Bones for making beef stock: 2 bags full (not shown in pic below)
This is what it all looks like sprawled out on our kitchen table. I can't wait to get cooking! I hope this post helps someone with what they might expect when buying grass-fed beef in bulk :)
Lots and lots of ground beef!! 18 packs of it to be exact. We love ground beef so we are excited to have a large amount of it. I'm excited about not having to buy beef from a store anymore...this is soooo much tastier (not to mention way leaner and healthier)!!
This photo is just for the purpose of showing the space an 1/8 of a cow takes up in a 16cu.ft upright freezer. We found this 4 yr old Whirlpool freezer on CL for a great deal. The top 2 shelves hold the beef from our order and the soup bones are in those other two packages on the third shelf. As you can see we could easily fit twice as much and still have room for lots more food...like chicken!!
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