We are meat eaters. We don't eat a lot of meat, but we do have either chicken, pork or beef once a week each, leaving the other days for either leftovers or vegetarian meals. For those of you that are sensitive to the topic of someone shopping for meats, you might want to skip this entry.
Lately, all the news on the effects of the antibiotics and growth hormones used on animals to make them bigger for butchering has me worried and looking for alternatives. Organic meat at the stores around here is crazy expensive and totally out of our reach, so I went on a search to buy whole sale from a local farmer or butcher who uses locally raised animals. As always, following my motto, better to buy local if I can't buy locally organic.
While on a search to find where I could buy wholesale meats from a local farmer I found this great website www.eatwild.com. Eat Wild has a directory of farmers that raise their animals the old fashioned way, pasture fed. These farmers do not treat their animals with hormones or put growth additives in their food. The animals are much healthier and rarely need to be treated with antibiotics or other drugs to cure ailments. Over all, very healthy animals, that taste better and are leaner then their "feedlot" companions. I couldn't have been happier! I found farmers in my province that sell wholesale and keep pasture fed, hormone free animals.
Growing up, my parents bought all our beef and pork from a butcher out in Kitchener/Waterloo. This butcher used meat from his local farmers, most, if not all, practiced traditional farming techniques. We would go early one Saturday morning in the fall and package our meat while it was being cut. My mom loved the fact that she could very easily get her meat cut to her liking, and package it in ways the were convienent for cooking. After all our meat was packaged we'd head over to the farmers market to get two huge bags of yukon gold potatoes to last us the year and some fresh buns and cold cuts for lunch. I can still smell the fresh salami and bread when I think about it.
My husband and I have recently started buying some of our meats in large quantities, not wholesale but still cheaper, and from a butcher that gets his meats from a local farmer. Our next step is to find a farm off this website that meets our needs.
You can do the same for cold cuts and sandwich meats as well. Find a local butcher (not the one in your grocery store, unless you shop at a store that sells organic home grown sandwich meats. If you aren't sure ask) and ask them where they get their meats from. Most are very willing to give up the information because most do buy from local farmers.
So where do you start? I just did a google search "buy meat locally" and came up with a bunch of great websites. Here are a few of them, for both Canada and the US.
Food TV - great article on the movement toward local and organic meats, with links on the bottom of the page for specific provinces. Canadian information only.
Sustainable Table Great site that explains a lot about sustainable eating and local buying. Links to US only markets and farmers, but has a ton of information that is good for everyone.
Eat Well Guide Good for Canada and the US, this allows you to search for restaurants, farms, markets and more that provide local, sustainable and or organic foods. The search consists of province/state, distance, postal code/zip code and or key word.
Just a reminder, buying locally pasture fed meat is going to cost you a bit more because the farmers put more time and energy in to their farming in order to give you a healthier option of food, but the quality and taste will make up for the difference. Ways to get around the cost is to find a farmer that does orders custom to your needs, or share a side of meat with friends who are also conscious of what they are eating. Either way it is still cheaper then buying the organic meat in a grocery store because you cut out the middle man.
I really hope this information helps some of you to find a farmer that is near you and can cater to your needs. When we support our farmers we support the local economy and the environment at the same time. And after all, while the world isn't as small as it used to be, isn't it worth helping the people in our immediate area to help keep life sustainable? I think it is.