Monday, January 16, 2012

Buying on the Hoof 101 (part 1)

One of the best ways you can make a difference is by buying your meat on the hoof from a local farmer. I love some of the phrases out there that support this exchange like "Meet you Meat" Just last week we bought a pig from a local farmer, it was butchered on the farm by a local butcher and then sent to a butcher shop to be smoked. Let me list all the ways this helped the community and the environment.

1. First all the money stayed completely local. I bought the pig from the farmer living 20 miles from me, who bought his feed from the mill 20 miles from him. The butcher came to the farm and butchered the animal and then sent it to a shop in town for smoking. Not a penny, for over a years worth of pork, left my community.

2. Animal welfare is very important to me. I am not interested in eating tortured meat. The pig was raised on a farm, in a pasture and killed quickly and efficiently. When one person is killing and butchering one animal, there is a lot less room for error and if there was an error the butcher would control the situation immediately as apposed to what often happens at processing plants. You can do your own research on that topic.

3. Environmentally it is extremely important. I bought over a years worth of pork for my family and left a carbon foot print of less than 50 miles. Even if you added in the drive time for the butcher and for myself the pig moved less than 50 miles. I've seen blueberries with more stamps in their passport than I have. we need to eat local. Now lets talk about the feces waste from industrial meat plants. When you have hundreds or thousands of pigs in one spot that's a lot of nastiness that goes no where but into the soil and then into the water table. Raising only a few pigs allows the natural environment to recycle the waste.

Now lets go back to the cost. I will admit that upfront you do need to have the cash available to pay everyone. The farmer got $1.40 per pound hanging weight, that means the whole pig. My pig was 240lbs. Then the butcher charges $60 and finally the butcher shop costs will be between $250 and $300. (I'll give the run down on the cuts in tomorrows blog)
Overall it is a win win for everyone, well maybe not the pig, but at least I know that he was able to injoy his time on earth and was not left standing in his own feces for days before getting electrocuted in a shoot with twenty other scared animals.
Part two will give you a step by step account of how we found our farmer, and what you need to know to buy your own pig. If were going to eat meat we need to make conscious decision about how the animal was cared for and how it was killed.

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