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Where do you buy meat?

I don't usually post over here but over the past couple years I've moved our household habits more and more in the direction of sustainable, renewable, ethical, green, etc. etc. etc.  for a lot of reasons.

I'm struggling with meat.  The more I know the more disgusted I am with factory-farmed meat etc.  Sometimes I consider becoming vegetarian, but I think I would be happy just cutting back considerably on meat and buying the good stuff (free-range, organic, grass-fed, etc.) for when I do eat it.

DH has zero desire to cut back on meat and doesn't really care if it's organic, ethically raised, whatever. 

Whole Foods is so frakking expensive.  I'm on the far edge of the Chicago suburbs (near enough to Iowa and S. Illinois farm country), so I feel like there must be other places to get meat but I don't know how to find them. 

What do you do?  Just eat less meat?  Buy in bulk?  Are there ways to get it more cheaply?

TIA!

Pregnancy Ticker

Re: Where do you buy meat?

  • image majorwife:

    We buy in bulk from a local farmer. We get 1/4 of a cow and it usually lasts us all year. We only have 2 pounds of ground beef left and we got the meat in Jan. And we eat meat like whoa.

    Check out:

    http://www.eatwild.com/

    http://www.localharvest.org/

     

    Do you get it already butchered?  What is your typical cost per pound since you just buy a full 1/4 cow?  And how much freezer space does that take up?  We have an upright freezer, not as big as a chest freezer so I'm curious if it would be big enough?

    Sorry for all the questions, and thanks!

     

    Pregnancy Ticker
  • Check out Door to Door Organics. I've been using them for 3 years now for fruits and veggies and they recently started offering meat as well. They are very reasonably priced, provide local produce/meats, and have amazing customer service. I'm so happy to have found them! You have the choice to have a box delivered once a week or biweekly, and you can edit your box and shop for more if you want. Plus it's easy to put it on hold for a week or so if you chose to. I just checked, and they are in Chicago as well.

    http://chicago.doortodoororganics.com/

    Other then that, I buy organic chicken at Costco. Best price I've found locally. I've bought 1/8 of a cow before, but we just don't eat enough red meat for that to be worth it to me. Unfortunately, our farmer's market just don't offer much meat (there's one vendor but you have to arrive first thing in the morning and it goes FAST), so that's not an option for me but maybe something you can look into.

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  • image bim38106:

    Check out Door to Door Organics. I've been using them for 3 years now for fruits and veggies and they recently started offering meat as well. They are very reasonably priced, provide local produce/meats, and have amazing customer service. I'm so happy to have found them! You have the choice to have a box delivered once a week or biweekly, and you can edit your box and shop for more if you want. Plus it's easy to put it on hold for a week or so if you chose to. I just checked, and they are in Chicago as well.

    http://chicago.doortodoororganics.com/

    Other then that, I buy organic chicken at Costco. Best price I've found locally. I've bought 1/8 of a cow before, but we just don't eat enough red meat for that to be worth it to me. Unfortunately, our farmer's market just don't offer much meat (there's one vendor but you have to arrive first thing in the morning and it goes FAST), so that's not an option for me but maybe something you can look into.

    Thank you!

    We don't eat a ton of red meat either so I was thinking the same thing. I was thinking maybe I'd try to find someone to split it with me though. 

     

    Pregnancy Ticker
  • Sometimes I buy at Whole foods, or Sunflower Farmers Market. Lately I have been researching co-ops in my area offering meats.
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  • We buy our beef and chicken in bulk. I get 100 lbs (or a "generic quarter") of grass fed beef from a local farmer once a year. Sometimes I supplement certain cuts during the year from the farmer at our farmers market (also grass fed).

    Chickens I get from a couple different farmers. Both have pastured birds. One farm is organic (and much more expensive) and the other is organic but not certified. I got 8 chickens from him last month. That will last us through the winter.

    We used to buy half a pig, but decided not to this year. You don't get a lot of chops or ribs, and only one pork loin and those are the cuts we use the most. You get a lot of roasts and honestly I just don't use them up very quickly. So this year I'll buy from a local farmer through our food co-op on a as needed basis.

    I've been to every single farm I buy my meat from. I know how the animals are treated, where they live, what they eat etc. I like having relationships with my famers and knowing where my food came from.

    Like you, once I became aware of the practices of the meat industry and the environmental impact, I was disgusted and pretty much immediately stopped buying meat at the supermarket. It's more expensive for sure. But we eat less meat and I make budget sacrifices elsewhere.

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  • We get our meat from the Farmer's Market.  Our market has vendors for every type of meat.  All cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, and even some interesting meats like rabbit and goat.  You can get any cut you want.  The farmers at our market are all free-range.  You have to ask each farmer about antibiotic-free or organic.  Organic feed is VERY EXPENSIVE, small farmers just can't afford it.  But most of our farmers, let's say beef for example, pasture the cattle on their own grass and cut their own winter hay, and they don't spray their fields.  As far as antibiotics, raising a whole cow is a significant investment for the farmer.  Our beef vendor only has about 100 head of cattle I think.  So losing one to sickness is a huge deal to his farm.  So he only uses antibiotics when the cow is legitimately sick, which doesn't happen very often because they're so well cared for.  Our beef vendor also wouldn't take that sick cow directly to slaughter, he would wait until it was well and the antibiotics are completely out of its system. 

    I tell you this because I think people get too hung up on labels like "antibiotic-free," when IMHO you really should be considering whether the animal had a good life.  It's more important to know your farmer, and how they raise their animals, than it is to find a meat that conforms to all your criteria (free range? check.  Organic? Not organic!  Then I don't want it!).

    I would say the prices are comparable to Whole Foods, but I think the key is to ask the farmer/butcher what inexpensive cuts they recommend.  That's how we found out about london broil, which is now our "let's grill a steak!" cut.  I had never heard of it before, and it's one of the cheapest cuts the farmer offers at $10/lb. 

    You can also get prices down by buying part of a cow or pig like the PP recommended, or by buying whole chickens.  Whole chickens at our market are about $4 a pound, and make so many meals!  Meal 1: Roast the chicken.  Meal 2:  Pull what's left off the carcass, and make a casserole or chicken salad.  Meal 3 (or 4 and 5!):  Make chicken stock out of the bones.  After you make stock, put the bones in your compost pile to add valuable bone meal to your garden. 

    Also ask the farmer if they'll consider bulk discounts.  You don't have to buy 1/4 a cow, but our beef vendor will do 5% off 5 lbs of ground beef, or 10% off 10 lbs.

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  • Thanks everyone for your detailed answers.  I am very pro-organic but with out budget and the more I learn, the more I realize that just buying local and ethically raised is much better, plus animals raised that way tend to be healthier anyway even if not certified organic.  Your responses kind of confirmed that for me. 

    This is going to be a slow process as I try to bring DH on board but I'd ultimately like a chest freezer and to just start buying in bulk, maybe going in with a friend or two if I can find them.

    Thanks again!

    Pregnancy Ticker
  • I buy it from our co op (Dill Pickle) in Chicago. It's pretty expensive, though. We've cut back a lot.

    Could you look for a farmer's market in your area? Major posted some great links.

  • We also buy from a local farm.  They have organic pork and lamb and grass-fed beef that is all sent to an organic processing plant to be butchered.  We have definitely cut back on the amount of meat we consume due to the price but I've found their prices/pound are cheaper than the organic meats I can get at our local grocer.  We get our chicken from a local farm as well but not as often so in between I buy organic at our grocer.
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  • I am Jewish and eat Kosher. It is VERY clean. Just read the slaughtering laws we have to follow. I am not sure how the animals are raised (I am certain that my shop raises their own) but I know that it doesn't go through the crap that meat at any other grocery store sells.

    It is about as expensive as normal. Sometimes less. Sometimes a little more. It is worth a shot.

    Pregnancy Ticker
  • We buy our beef from a friend who's parents raise organic cattle. We get our chicken and lamb from my old high schools FFA-always raised organic, without antibiotics. That's where I would start. A local FFA is a great place to look for infor on meat and produce locally that will be in expensive.

     

  • I don't know where you live in IL, but we live outside of Chicago, in Rockford. I grew up on a farm in the area. We always had our meat processed at a locally owned place called Eickman's. They are very reasonably priced, very local and award winning. It is in a tiny little town named Seward. If you aren't too far I would say it is worth the drive. You can buy as much or as little as you would like directly from them, and like like I said, it the beef and pork and other types of meat are all locally raised. PM me if you want more information.
    ~May 21,2011~
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