Why does local cost more
does it really?
Everyone has asked this question at some point in time. Whether it be local farm fresh veggies or eggs or farm grown meat, home made bread, home milled flour, home made soaps or even local cheese.
After doing some research and considering our own situation The basics of that question is Some people cut corners..and that can affect your health.
I know you've heard that grass-fed is better for you and the animal.
And of course you already know that supporting local farmers is good for the economy of the community and your belly!
Maybe you want to know the difference between barn raised pork and pastured pork or feedlot raised beef and pastured beef ..( CAFO)concentrated animal feeding operation vs free ranged pastured animals.
And I bet you want to know the best and most economic way to buy premium beef, pork, lamb and chicken and duck...mmmm... - by the piece or bulk
Well I'm gonna let you in on the secrets..which aren't very secretive at all.
My next few posts will get into the details of most of your questions.
Maybe you have some query of your own. Feel free to comment below. I'll research if I don't have the answers readily available for you
Today's post will center around terminology. Like grass-fed
_very confusing subject.
..not confusing at all.
Grass-fed or grass-finished means different things to different people .
Well grassfed is animals being fed either fresh grass or dried grass...HAY and small amounts of grain to coax them and move them around is ok.. But grassfed vs grain finished is where it gets confusing, you can have an animal grassfed but them for 2-4 weeks force feed grain to fatten them up . This is where the poor animals liver becomes diseased and listeria can develop.
In our operation all our animals are fed grass every day of their life so they are grassfed.
and grassfinished (Even the chickens get hay). And they are not
fed large amounts of grain to finish them or fatten them. It takes a little longer to get a grass-finished animal to the correct amount of "finish "on them , which will always be less than the feedlot gorged animals. But the flavour and tenderness is sooo worth it. Did you know breeds differ in flavour and some breeds are better for CAFO rearing and others better for grass fed/finished
Grain finished animals can end up with very unhealthy livers and internal disorders because of the huge amounts of grain they ingest to get the "bloom" the feedlot operators are feeding for and the commercial buyers are paying for. But the composition of the meat is generally less fat in grassfinished but still good marbling.
- Monounsaturated fat: Grass-fed beef contains much less monounsaturated fat than grain-fed beef (1).
- Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats: Grass-fed and grain-fed beef contain very similar amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Omega-3s: This is where grass-fed really makes a major difference, containing up to five times as much omega-3 (2).
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): Grass-fed beef contains about twice as much CLA as grain-fed beef. This fatty acid is associated with a few health benefits (3, 4).
In short, there are some significant differences in the fat amount and composition of grass-fed beef, compared to grain-fed. You can investigate on your own and go further in depth. But I choose not to bore you here.
So to make a long story short, it takes longer to get a grass finished beef market ready than force feeding grain to fatten them up. And the grassfed animal has fewer health issues. So really you are paying more for grassfed but you are paying for meat not fat and grissol that the cats and dogs get. If your cheaper meats are tough and chewy and you have to spit it out , is it really less expensive or just cheap meat?
Now Natural versus Organic
Natural can mean whatever anybody wants to call it. There are no guidelines , no rules, no must do's. So really it means nothing...end of story!
Organic on the other hand has rules, regulations and many many hoops to jump through, And organic farmers must prove they are following these rules. Paperwork has to accompany these products and Every year they must be inspected by a third party inspector, to ensure these rules are being followed. Then when their product is sold it is subject to random testing. No one want s to pay to have that load of wheat shipped back from the west coast at their expense and lose their organic status. So believe me , the small organic farmers are not about to cheat.
In our situation we feed our own certified organic feeds to make sure that your family and mine isn't ingesting the chemicals and GMO's found in other feeds nor the hormones and antibiotics found in most if not all feedlot and CAFO meat. Organic hay costs 1.5 to 2 times more than conventional hay. Plus with organic ranches and farms the labour cost is significant because the work is more manual than mechanical. It really does cost more to produce organic than conventional crops. But again the benefits to your family are significant.
Now here is the kicker. Of course there are farmers who are selling cheap meat. You can buy100 's of pounds of ground beef for $4/lb or ground pork for $3/lb or a steak for $7 lb ,but I will bet dimes to dollars that meat is either from a "DOWNER" animal or possibly a sick animal.( I know this because we used to eat those animals when we first started out dirt poor we thought we had no choice) and we paid the cost of that "SAVINGS". That could be an old bull who has a broken leg, an old cow that has prolapsed, a stinky old boar ,or a young boar that cant be used for breeding. If the later is the case you will smell it as soon as you open the oven door. It could be any animal that would not pass inspection at an inspected facility. The old adage "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR" is very relevant when it comes to food.
Now speaking of inspected facilities.
We could cut corners and just do" farm kills ",( where basically anything is allowed). but we are so confident in our animal health that we use a federally inspected facility for all our customers meat. It is required to sell to restaurants -which we do supply . You get the same assurance that you animal was inspected live and the carcas was inspected once slaughtered.
If your retailer cant tell you what the animal ate or who raised it he obviously doesnt care who raised your food.
If your farmer doesn't want you to come to their farm, there might be a reason, then you should consider another farmer for your food.
Not all farms are as they appear Your farmer should have an open door policy within reason ( some let you believe they raised it themselves...when in actual fact they don't have an animal on the place)
So just do your research and ask question of your retailer and farmer and see who has the answers you are happy with.
Be aware of what you are putting in your belly and Be concerned where you're $$$ should go.