90% of all red meat consumed in the US is factory farmed. Factory farms are all about profit, and not at all about compassion. Factory butchering operations are all about profit, and not one bit about humanely treating animals. It’s a disgusting, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching system of animal abuse – and every time we pick up a package of meat or poultry from a grocery store – we’re perpetuating that abuse. I’m not a vegan, peta-thumping activist – I eat meat. I just think we need to think long and hard about the corporate farming practices we support when we’re buying supermarket meat & poultry.
The solution is to source locally. While it generally involves a more expensive initial investment – you can usually buy 1/2 or 1/4 animals for an overall price per pound much less than what you’d pay for burger or steak or even pork in the grocery store.
If you’re relying on grocery store labeling to help you decide which type of meat to buy – be very careful. Most labeling is extremely misleading and needs to be researched to ensure you understand what it is you’re actually buying. USDA Organic meat guidelines have zero provisions for how that animal is handled through the shipping and butchering process.
Here are some tips for finding local meat, fish and poultry
- Go to the local feed store – they know who in the area will likely sell sides of meat.
- Call a local butcher – they either raise and process their own animals for sale, or know someone who is raising animals and selling whole or sections.
- Check out CraigsList.org. You can generally find meat, poultry, eggs and more here – just ask for references or ask around if the provider is reputable and puts out a good product.
- Visit EatWild.com – they area good resource for locally raised meat and eggs.
- Check out the farmer’s market – sometimes they’ll come sell their local meats there. This is a good resource if you’re looking for local AND USDA inspected meat if that’s important to you.
- LocalHarvest.org – you can source local meats here as well as find CSAs and Farmers Markets.
- Make friends with a hunter. We hunt, we enjoy many types of game meat. Wild game is, when compared to factory farming, more humanely raised and butchered than any beef you can buy in the grocery store. Think of how they live – and ethical hunters legally hunt and dispatch animals quickly and with as little stress as possible. Cattle are lined up and watch the cows in front of them be electrocuted or shot with a bolt gun – one after the other. They know they’re about to die and they can do nothing about it. Hunting is where it’s at. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy game meat – I wrote a post with some tips.
So think next time you grab that convenient package of nameless, faceless and featherless chicken off the grocery store shelf – can you grab a better quality, locally sourced product from a friend or neighbor instead?