Purchasing meat directly from the farm has many benefits for both the farmers and the eaters:
- The entire purchase price goes to the farmer.
- You get high-quality, delicious meat from farmers you can get to know over time.
- You avoid the cruel and destructive system of industrial meat production.
Buying beef, pork, lamb, bison, poultry and other meats this way is vastly different from the meat counter at your local supermarket and it will take some adjustment. Consider:
1. Most local farmers produce seasonally on a small scale and have limited marketing outlets. Consequently, they sell only frozen meat because it's not feasible for them to sell all the meat they produce before it spoils.
2. Producers prefer to sell beef and pork by the half (side) or quarter, but sometimes they offer a bundle of mixed cuts in 20-25 pound lots. These are processed in facilities that have been inspected by the state and/or federal government and come in marked butcher paper or labeled plastic. Some sell at farmers' markets by the individual cut.
3. Some poultry producers prefer to sell fresh chicken at the farm on the day of slaughter, but you can also pick up frozen whole or half-chickens from the farm at other times. Some sell through retail grocers and to restaurants, as well.
4. If you choose to buy meat in bulk, you may find it worthwhile to purchase a small freezer to ensure adequate storage space. One cubic foot of freezer space will accommodate 35-40 pounds of cut and wrapped meat (slightly less if the meat is packaged in odd shapes).
5. Buying meat in bulk can save you substantial money over time, but it requires a significant initial investment. Splitting a large order with one or more other households can help make this more manageable.
6. Some of our farmers use feeding methods that result in very lean meats in comparison to most supermarket meats, and so different cooking methods are required for best results. This is often the case with meats from grass-fed and pastured animals. Please ask the farmers you buy from for tips on how best to prepare the meats they sell.
A good resource for finding farms in your area that sell meat in bulk quantities is Eat Wild.