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Tips for Sourcing Quality Meat

May 24, 2012

Raw-Leg-of-Lamb-Roast

It can be challenging to source good quality meat (grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, etc.), especially if you are only used to shopping at the supermarket. Even at my local Whole Foods, the grass-fed beef is grain-finished. But tracking down nutritious, healthy meat is certainly worth the effort, and it gets easier with practice. Here are some tips to help with your hunt for good quality meat:

Buy a freezer

My number one recommendation is to invest in a freezer so that you can stock up on meat. Get the biggest freezer you can afford that will fit into your space. And trust me, this is definitely possible regardless of how cramped your current living situation feels. I lived in a small studio apartment, and my medium-sized chest freezer was in the middle of my dining/living room. Let’s just say it was a conversation piece. Other creative options include sharing freezer space with a friend or neighbour, keeping the freezer in storage or a friend’s house, or even renting freezer space.

Local stores and butchers

If you are lucky, there will be a store or butcher near you that sells or can order the type of meat you are looking for. Except for the rare instance where this meat is readily available at all times, I’d recommend buying in bulk and freezing. First, check what’s available at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and then branch out to other health food stores, specialty butchers, etc.

Farmers’ markets

Some markets go year round, while others may only pop up in the spring/summer months. Take advantage of what’s available and stock up when you find a great vendor. Visiting markets is a great way to get to know your local farmers. Chances are they can sell you a lot more than what they’ve brought to the market, directly from their farms.

Meet some farmers

Buying a whole animal (or a portion – e.g. a side of beef) directly from a farm is a fantastic way to go. You save money by cutting out the middleman and buying in bulk, you know exactly where your animal came from and how it was raised, and you won’t have to buy meat again for a long time. Remember, you can always split your purchase with friends/family/neighbours. A good resource for finding farms is www.eatwild.com (“Your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles”.) Don’t be deterred if a farm is far away – they often deliver a few times a year within a certain radius. They might even make a special trip for you, or help you make delivery/pick-up arrangements.

Online

If you live in the US, there are online sites like US Wellness meats from which you can order meat and have it shipped to your home.

Meat co-ops and buying clubs

Google meat co-ops and buying clubs in your area – you can place a group order with other customers to receive access to meat directly from farms and to save money. Another option is to join or start a paleo/primal Meetup group and place orders together. And there’s always craigslist, or better yet, paleohacks to find like-minded individuals.

Hunting

Assuming you don’t want to hunt yourself (it could be a worthwhile hobby), you could ask around – perhaps friends of friends hunt and have too much meat to consume themselves. You could then buy it from them or even luck out and get it for free. Another idea would be to inquire at hunting clubs. Try to find out as much as possible about the land where the animals lived.

Do what you can

These are just a few ideas on how to source some quality meat. Depending on where you live, it may be easier or harder to do, but it’s definitely doable. Even if the closest source is a day’s worth of driving, it’s still feasible –  if you stock up, you might only have to make the trek once or twice a year, especially if you take turns with others in your community.

Most importantly, do the best that you currently can, and don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect. Every effort you make towards eating well is a step in the right direction.

What are your tips for sourcing meat? Please share your advice below.

Shared with Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Fridays and Real Food Wednesdays.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

laura west kong May 25, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Thanks for the great meat-buying tips! I’d been vegetarian up until January of this year and it’s frustrating trying to find good quality organic grass-fed pastured meat.

I’ve given your blog an award to thank you for all the wonderful primal advice you share. You can check it out here: http://www.laurawestkong.com/gff/2012/liebster-awards/

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[email protected] May 25, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Hi Laura, thanks for the award! :)

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Aaron May 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

And a great place to meet some Farmers is at, wait for it, Farmers Markets.

One of the great things about the Markets are that you can try out some cuts of meat before you go all in with a quarter of a half of an animal. This is exactly what I did before I did bulk buys with Buffalo and Beef.

This Tuesday I’m getting a whole goat (cut up and frozen … although the Farmer did offer me the live animal!) delivered right here in town. Getting to know local Farmers is a great option.

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[email protected] May 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM

LOL. I realized that I had forgotten the obvious option of farmer’s markets right after I posted. And then I hadn’t been able to access my blog since. Thanks, Aaron! :)

I would LOVE to get a goat. And a lamb. Along with a cow. And some buffalo…. need more freezer space!

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