Locally Raised Meat

Alpine Ranch Grass-fed Cattle in Northern Nevada

Alpine Ranch Grass-fed Cattle

Last week I posted about locally grown produce, since it’s the time of year to enjoy so many fresh fruits and vegetables. Locally raised meat can be found year round, but have you given it a try yet?

I’ve noticed meat stands have started to find their way in between produce stands at farmer’s markets, and a quick search helped me find all sorts of local meat options in my area. Many of these ranchers raise organic, free range meat including beef, lamb, pigs and chickens. Some corn finish their animals to produce a less gamey tasting final product, and some grass-feed all the way to the end.

When you are buying local meat, you are supporting several local businesses: rancher, slaughter house and butcher. Many of the ranches are small scale, so the whole family is involved, even kids! They all seem to be having a great time, and I love to know that these sorts of home businesses are sustainable even today. Our latest local beef came from Alpine Ranch and is delicious, and we’re in line to get pork from them as soon as it’s ready.

Buying meat at the farmer’s market can be pretty pricey, but if you buy in bulk from the rancher, you can get a great deal. Since local meat is gaining in popularity, you are no longer obligated to buy half a cow at once. The first time we bought locally raised meat I cleared a whole shelf in our freezer, worrying that we wouldn’t have room for it all. Once I loaded it all in, it took up a little less than half a shelf. The whole lamb we picked up last week took up about the same amount of room. Most ranches have smaller packages; we buy 40 lbs at a time. You might be able to spend a little extra to get a “grill package”, which will provide you with more steaks and less roasts.

There’s also the option of raising your own. Many communities allow small chicken coups, and I know more than one family with sheep and a cow on a few acres. If you don’t want a whole cow in your freezer, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find friends willing to buy into your heifer. I know I would!

Comments

  1. Megan Landers says:

    We buy local meat, including beef and pork. There are several ranches in the area that provide a lovely product at a good price. The difference in taste is astounding vs. regular grocery meat. There is a place in Moscow that lets you buy chickens in exchange for free labor which we don’t deal with (if you’re providing labor and paying full price, I don’t find that to be fair). With the University here we can also purchase animals from the Meat Science department. We are trying like heck to purchase a place out in the country with some land and intend to raise/farm our own milk, eggs, pork and beef. My husband and I both have farm backgrounds, so this is something we’ve been dying to do!

  2. We’re still getting used to the local beef, since it is completely grass-fed. Our last bulk order was corn finished, so it wasn’t gamey. The lamb we just got is sooo good, and we haven’t gotten our pork yet. I can’t wait to try it! I don’t know where to get chicken, so we haven’t tried that yet.

    Our local University also has a Meat Science department and their butchering business is top notch. I had no idea colleges had this sort of thing, but it sounds like it is more common than I knew.

    Megan, I totally think you and your husband should by a little farm! Especially since you both know what to do with it. It sounds like a lot of fun.

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