Sep 23, 2010

Benefits of Bulk Buying Local Meat

A Grand Harvest
  by Tracy Youngblood of Youngblood Grassfed Farm

It is harvest time on most farms.  The idea of harvest tends to evoke feelings of fields, farms and fencerows.  Traditionally, harvest means: bringing in large quantities of crops or in our case, meat.  This may be directly opposed to how you shop now.

Buying meat in bulk quantity is an alternative that will save you time and money with a little locally grown economic revival thrown in for good taste.  You are already familiar with the concept of bulk buying, but may not have applied it to buying meat.

Saving Time
Meal planning is made easier when you have a freezer full of meat.  You know exactly what you have.  You do not run the risk of a product being out of stock, nor do you have to spend time driving to the grocery store for each meal.  All you do is stroll to the freezer and make your superb dinner selection.

Saving Money
At Youngblood Grassfed Farm, we call it cow-pooling.  Cow-pooling is when you and a couple other families join together to purchase larger quantities of meat, like a whole beef.  You are getting the higher end cuts of meat, such as steak, but at the lower end price range.

For example, our  rib-eye steak bought individually through a market would cost you $7.97.  This is about $11.30/lb.  When you cow pool, you are getting rib-eye steak for the same price as ground beef,  which would be about $5.00/lb. from our farm.

Time and money are not the only benefits of bulk meat buying.  You are supporting local, agriculture-related businesses like abbatoirs.  An abbatoir is a fancy word for meat processors.  There are 2 types of processors in Arkansas, custom and USDA inspected.

USDA Inspected Abbatoir
When you want to buy one package of meat at a time, for example from ASN, for our farm to be able to sell individual resale cuts, it must be processed at a USDA inspected facility.  A USDA inspected facility incurs more cost, due in part to governmental regulations, which in turn is passed on to the farmer, then the customer.  Since there are a limited number of these facilities in Arkansas, the farmer typically has to drive long distances spending valuable time and gas money to deliver the live animal to the USDA inspected facility.  A week or more later, the farmer drives the long distance again to pick up the processed meat.   Unfortunately the money spent in gas has to be passed along to the consumer.

Custom Abbatoir
The cost-efficient alternative to a USDA inspected facility is custom processing.  When you purchase a whole or half an animal, it is considered a live sale.  You basically own that animal; it is intended for your consumption, not resale of individual pieces.  Therefore, you can have that animal processed by a custom processor.  Many hunters of deer and wild boars use custom processing facilities to preserve their wild game.

There are more custom abbatoirs than USDA facilities scattered around the state of Arkansas which means less gas money for the farmer.  Custom processors are fully inspected and licensed through the state, not through USDA.  Costs are lower which is another savings for the consumer.

Added Bonus
Though it may not matter as much to you as time and money, there's another reason to buy meat in bulk:  it helps to promote a locally grown economic revival.  You are supporting small farms like ours that are re-emerging and growing due to a revival of sustainably raised meats. When farmers sell beef at a public auction they receive as little as $1 a pound for top quality beef.  Buying locally ensures that you are getting top quality, healthy meat all the while helping the "little guy" (cutting out the middle man) and stimulating the economy.

To learn more about Youngblood Grassfed Farm, visit our website.  I also write a blog and we're on Facebook.  Of particular note, you'll want to stay connected to us because Youngblood Grassfed Farm recently gave away 1/8 of beef!

Raising the steaks for you,
Tracy Youngblood

See also: Lisa Lipe's article on buying local meat in bulk.

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  1. Tracy,

    This was very helpful. Thank you so much for laying it out for us, and for "raising the steaks." I love that!

  2. I love the term "cow pooling", there just isn't a better way of describing it! :P

    Anyway, this is one thing I'd like to see more wholesale outlets doing; stocking more local produce or local meat. I don't know whether it's a psychological thing but it always tastes better to me when it's local. I suppose the problem is that local operations are often too small to be of any benefit to the big wholesale outlets. But yeah, anyone buying meat wholesale needs to split it up into portions first. And yes, I'm speaking from experience because I was a twit and forgot to do it once...



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