Monday, August 16, 2010

Local Meat

For some time now, it has been my plan, my intention, my goal to change our eating habits.  More local food and more fruits and vegetables.  We really need to stop importing food from Peru and China.  No offense to those who live in Peru and China, but we really used to be good at feeding ourselves and others.  We used to be a land of abundance.  Back then, farmers and ranchers could make a career and life supporting themselves and their families.  But then we got too smart for our own good.  Kids earning money in the summer by picking strawberries and beans - Just isn't happening any more.  And we aren't better for the change.  The kids I know aren't better off sitting at home texting each other between video games and movies.  I'm just completely over that whole thing.

So the absolute truth is that I haven't made a lot of progress towards my goal of feeding us better.  The forced remodel didn't help any.  Not that we do that badly, really.  Compared to most people I see in the grocery store, we eat almost no food from the freezer aisle or from boxes, ice cream and cereal excepting.

I have my excuses.  I have a job and always had.  I don't have all day to do these things.  All those stay at home moms who are now mad at me, I'm sorry and I really don't mean it.  When I come home, I'm hussling around doing those things that I think are necessities.  But wait a second, maybe eating better is a necessity.

There is one fundamental change that we have made.  Meat.  My husband eats meat and insists on continuing that, so I can just give up any ideas of eating less of it.  The next best thing is to take more responsibility for it.  We decided to eliminate the whole hormone and antibiotic thing, which can't be good for anyone, including the cow.  Standing in front of the meat cooler at the grocery store wondering what we are going to eat this week is a habit I want to break. 

So here is what we did.  We bought a 1/2 cow from a local rancher some months ago.  We discussed with her what they will feed the cow, confirmed that there would be no hormones and antibiotics, discussed their plans to fatten it and butcher it.  We paid a $200 at that time to put a hold on that meat.  When butchered, our 1/2 cow had a hanging weight of 345 lbs, for which we paid $1.95 per pound.  We also paid 1/2 of the $75 kill fee.  Our total cost was $707.75 to her. 

It hung at the butcher for a week.  We went there and made decisions with them how they would cut it.  How much would be hamburger, what size the roasts and steaks would be, how much would be stew meat and cube steak?  We paid the butcher $194.27 for her work.  (Yes, both the rancher and the butcher were women and I didn't do that on purpose.)  Our total cost was   $902.47 / 345 = $2.61/ lb on average. 

Do you want to see 1/2 a cow looks like?

Isn't this cool?  No pun intended.

Remember to look your food in the eyes when you can.


  1. Wow- that is an amazing deal. The best price I've found around here for grass fed, antibiotic & hormone free beef is $5/lb. We don't have a deep freeze, so that is my first goal, then we'll try to buy bulk meat.

  2. I have been getting our beef this way for awhile. I love knowing my cow! We do it with chickens also.

  3. I've been looking for local chicken but haven't found it yet.

  4. I went out and hunted a wild pig, got one, and from a 180 lb dry sow we got 64 lbs of meat. I paid a butcher to do that, but I've raised a whole beef and slaughtered, butchered, and wrapped it, and could do it again. I'm hoping that next year I can move to Northern California, where I will be back into that lifestyle again.
    Congrats on your cow!
    Also, there are a lot of urbanites now starting to raise chickens in town. I did that in a suburb of LA, and was quite successful at raising rabbits, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and an incredible tomato and pepper garden. We got eggs and meat from the chickens and ducks. It was the most productive tomato garden, with about 400 lbs of Romas for sauce. We had a 40 lb turkey (live weight), which we fed to 10 people, and they didn't even finish half, before staggering away from the table. I did all of this on a city lot.
    You can be amazingly productive on a small plot, if you work it right.
    go for it!