Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BEEF, is that REALLY you in there?

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direct from the farm
Ever get the feeling that you're just not really sure what's in the food you're buying.  Case in point...the shelf life a Twinkie that has a "cream filling" - how does that last forever...what's in it that makes it non-perishable??  I seek out the natural and organic side of the aisles as much as possible..not that I don't love me an oatmeal cream pie every once in awhile too (hello, 3rd trimester with Addie) but I also know that it can't be good.  But even more concerning than the non-perishables that line the shelves are the meats and vegetables that are sitting in your grocer's refridgerators.  Not sure if anyone saw the Jamie Oliver special (a recap is blogged about here) about what they're using to process ground beef these days...but if even half of it is true - its enough to send me to the farms.  And...so for awhile I've been looking into local farms and the idea of "purchasing shares" of cattle for consumption (you can also do it with dairy cows if you want un-pastuerized milk).  I love red meat...but have just really been turned off by whats in the grocery stores because I'm not comfortable that I really know what I'm getting (it also weirds me out that alot of the beef sold in stores is from cattle in far away places like Mexico and other South American countries - the FDA now requires that information to be disclosed but I honestly never thought to look).  So now you're either thinking one of two things - 1) this girl suffers from some serious paranoia and should probably have her head checked or 2) where is she going with all of this? - is this a plea for me to become a vegetarian?  The answer to 1) you may be right and 2) NO - I eat alot of meat but I just wanted to share my plan to get our beef direct and at a much better price too!

PhotobucketFirst, as I mentioned above I looked into finding a local farm (Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas are heavily populated but if you get about 40 minutes out of town its pretty rural and there are quite a few farmers) and found a few.  It just so happened that two of those farms would be at our local farmer's market that following Saturday and so I persuaded my husband to join me so we could talk to the farmers and buy some of their meat to try out.  We purchased some beef from Windhaven Farm and some pork and chicken from Full Quiver Farm.  Funny how a 29 year old woman can get SO excited about meat.  The prices were reasonable - the beef which was all grass-fed and natural (meaning no hormones, antibiotics, medicated feeds, or animal by-products in the feed - and raised from birth on the farm) was actually cheaper than what I usually can find for all natural at Trader Joes.  We tried some of the ground beef that night and were left wishing we had bought alot more.  The taste was much better than anything we had tried before and there really wasn't much grease either.  We felt completely comfortable that we were getting 100% ground beef and not 90% ground beef + 10% filler (or ground beef from unknown sources).  The nice lady I had spoken with at the market, who just happened to be the farmer's daughter was kind enough to send me an e-mail with all of the info on purchasing a quarter, half, or whole cow.  My husband and I talked it over and decided that for the peace of mind of knowing we were getting high quality beef at a great price, which worked out to around $6 per pound (for all cuts - so while that seems high for a pound of ground beef - its a steal for a filet mignon) and supporting a local farmer - it was a win win situation.  I sent back an e-mail letting them know we would like to purchase a half cow (works out to about 200 pounds of meat so our deep freezer came in handy) and it was arranged that they would be going to take several heads of cattle in that coming week.  I'm an animal lover so don't even ask if we went to meet the cow or if we got to pick it out...I don't like to think about that part of it...I even got sad the day I knew they were taking them in:(  Due to the process of hanging the meat and cutting it...it took about 4 weeks before our beef was ready.  We were provided a "cut sheet" where we could select how we wanted the beef cut..types of steaks, thickness, weight per package, etc..  When we picked up our beef, everything had been vacummed sealed into packages as we directed and labeled so we knew what we had.  We've already used some of the ground beef and eaten some of the steaks and the taste is amazing.  Maybe its all mental...but I promise you there's a difference.  I won't be going back to the store bought stuff...we also purchased a pork share and are waiting for that to be ready as I love pork almost as much as I love beef.  I'm also really looking forward to the drop in my grocery bill as meat is no longer on the list.  Thanks for sticking with me...if you made it this far...please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all (my e-mail is on the sidebar).  I can't attest to what is and isn't true out there in media land but I can attest to what our experiences have been with buying direct from the farm.

J

15 comments:

Michelle said...

I need to know more. I'm definitely interested in shopping around & stocking up our deep freeze as well. Being a single income family on an excruciatingly tight budget, I know price is going to scare me, but it's the quality that counts.

You have my email, right, J? If not,
michellechissler {at} gmail {dot} com. Talk to me about this. I've heard of Full Quiver & I know their stuff is great. I just haven't taken the plunge yet.

Natalie said...

There definitely is a difference in taste! I actually lived on a farm when I was growing up, and we raised cows (no other livestock). We would have a whole freezer full of beef after they would send them off...so I totally know what you are saying. My family still lives out there, but I don't have a freezer big enough!

Lindsey said...

That is the nice thing about living in a small town. Our grocery store purchases local animals and cuts them in-house. Also, we have another even smaller grocery store that raises and cuts their pigs and cows. Italian sausages, steaks, etc. That is the only place we will buy our meat.

The down-side is chicken.. I need to find a local farmer for that.

KVH said...

Oh wow. I really need to try this route. I love red meat but my husband only eats ground beef pot roast. He's not that big into steaks like me. I'd love to hear more info.

karissa(.)viniegra(@)gmail(.)com

KVH said...

Ok, I just realized I said ground beef pot roast. That was supposed to be ground beef and pot roast. Haha.

Megan said...

I think it's awesome that you bought part of a cow! That's something I hear about people doing from time to time, but never looked into it, partly cause I didn't have the freezer room. I have it now, and thanks to you, I'm really interested. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Oh, good news for you on my blog today :) Better check!

Jessica said...

As soon as we get a deep freeze (hopefully this year sometime)....this is our plan! I can't wait. My parents have always done this...(in fact we had 2 to 3 cows at a time for years...small 5 acre area in country)

Love knowing what you eat.

Amber said...

I've honestly been considering buying a deep freezer just so we could do this. I have several friends who do and they say it really doesn't cost much more in the long run and the quality is so much better. Hmmm...I know what I'll be shopping for the rest of the day! :)

Lucy The Valiant said...

I would SO love to do something like this! I hate feeling suspicious of the food I serve my family!

Mrs EyeCanSee said...

Coming from the midwest, I'm no stranger to this concept. We've never done it though. Honestly until we got the house I would have never even had a place for all of it. You've got me thinking maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea....

Laura @ My Thoughts-Uninterrupted said...

So glad you posted on this topic! My mom and step dad buy a cow every year and lucky for me they give me and my husband some of it for free and I can certainly tell a difference! I have never looked into it mostly because I was scared of the price tag, but honestly, that price you listed doesn't seem too bad. I have never even thought about buying chicken or pork like this. I think I might have to investigate.

I was just talking with my mom the other night about how I wanted to find horomone free meats for Ethan once he gets to that stage. Plus it would be an awesome excuse for my husband and I to change our ways!

Katie said...

I really want to do this when we return to the states. My in-laws often do this type of plan with beef and pork and then get Amish chicken (from the store). It's especially scary buying meat here in Tokyo because we can't even read the packaging....so we've been buying the pricier stuff and hoping for the best..eek.

Raven said...

loooooove this!!! We purchased half a cow from someone we know, and we know it is not filled with hormones, pesticides, etc etc. And you know what? I can TASTE the difference. These days, you just never know what will be in your food (ESP your meat) and taking control is the best thing we can do.

Kim said...

I agree that meat fresh from the farm is sooo much better. We are blessed to have friends who we buy a 1/2 cow from for a very cheap price (about $4 per pound). I'm especially thankful now that we have a baby completely on table food and I'm paranoid about what she's eating!

Andrea said...

I love this post! My husband and his family own a bunch of land they have several heads of cattle that we use for our own meat. It is so much better and I'm with you on loving knowing that it's 100% beef! P.S, have you ever dried deer? You can get deer steaks and ground meat and it's waaaay less grease and fat than cow meet and it tastes pretty much the same to me! My husband notices a difference, but if you put it in spaghetti or tacos, you really can't tell!