This is a picture of my dad's cows. We get part of a beef from family members once a year. I love knowing where my beef is coming from and what they are eating. For those that know me, I can't say enough good things about buying your meats locally grown. The only meats we buy from the supermarket are the occasional "treat meats - ham, lunch meat, sausage, bacon, " when we run out of the good stuff. I could live without them, but my hubby claims he can't, so we compromise.
One thing I think is really important for people to understand is the "organic and natural" labeled meats and dairy products in the store can be a real joke. My friend (a cattle rancher) summed it all up in an email she recently wrote me. This is what she said:
"Being as I have been on hundreds of production agriculture sites in several several states.. I know that organic is the new best thing for many people but most people have never seen the facilities where their organic is being produced. I have been on sites that you could not pay me to feed the product to my family. I have seen cows struggling with mastitis and somatic cell counts of a million because they can't be treated, belly deep in mud where they are forced to be on 60 day "pasture" People get visions of animals on green hillsides just because it's organically produced. Consumers are paying for a feel good label with no idea where it comes from. I am a huge believer in locally grown and grass fed.. knowing exactly where your food is coming from...you are so right about the omega-3's and higher CLA's from grass fed animals. I just wanted to make sure that people know that Organic does NOT equal grass fed."
People really balk at having to pay $10 to $15 for homegrown chickens, but they are so much healthier. Watch "Food, Inc" if you want to see were those $.79 a lb chickens in the store come from.
Our family of four eats 1/4 beef, 1/2 pig, 1/2 lamb and a 10 chickens every year, which right now costs around $700 a year for all our meat (not including excess treat meats). If my husband gets wild meat, than we supplement with that. It is less expensive in the long run to buy farm-direct. The hard part is having the money up front. We try to set back some money from our tax returns to pay for our meat throughout the year.
We also make buying raw milk a priority. Unfortunately, our state makes it difficult for producers by making it a rule that you can't milk more than three cows at a time. This is tough to produce a steady supply for customers due to natural calving cycles. If you can get on a raw milk drop, you're very blessed.
If you aren't already buying farm-direct meats and dairy, I hope you'll be inspired to start looking for some. Go out to the farm, don't be afraid to ask the grower questions. You have a right to know exactly what you'll be putting in your body. Next post will be explain why we choose raw dairy whenever possible.