Grass Fed Beef Near Me
Where to Buy Local Grass Fed Beef, and Why It Matters
Grass Fed Should Mean Grass Fed
Finding grass fed beef should be straightforward. It's best for everyone when cows eat grass and nothing else. Ideally, everyone would have a wide variety of local, excellent farms from which to choose. While there are more farms in more places than you might think, they are not always easy to find. The goal of this post is to tell you where to look and what questions to ask. Just as importantly, I'll tell you what to avoid.
Don't Buy From ButcherBox
ButcherBox puts a lot of marketing dollars into portraying itself as a friend of farms like mine. This is not the case. It claims to source most of its beef from Australia, but it does not guarantee any particular point of origin. While its pork and chicken is sourced from the U.S. and Canada, all of it comes from factory farms, just like what you'd get in any grocery store. ButcherBox is big business, and it works with industrial farms. It does not work with good, small farms committed to having all animals raised on grass.
Further, ButcherBox tries to get you to commit to a monthly subscription, and sells many items by the serving or portion rather than the pound in an effort to hide what they are actually charging. If you want to be sure you're getting high quality, grass fed beef, try to find a farm you can visit, or at the very least a purveyor who can tell you the exact farm the meat you're buying came from.
The bottom line: be suspicious of any company, like ButcherBox, that is a middleman rather than a producer. Most of them are more committed to marketing than to real food and healthy farming.
Where to Look for Grass Fed Beef
1.) Eatwild. A great place to start is the website Eatwild. Hold on, don't click quite yet! Though Eatwild is the most comprehensive listing service for good, local farms, it isn't the most user friendly site. It's particularly hard to navigate while using a phone, so check it out on a computer or tablet if possible. When you click onto it, look for the first menu item, titled "Shop for Local Grass Fed Meat, Eggs, and Dairy." That will lead you to a map. From there click on your state, and then on the state map with pins. This requires quite a few steps, I know, but it will lead you to a map with pins for many local farms. Click on any pin to learn about what a particular farm offers.
2.) Farmers' Markets. If you're lucky enough to have a farmers' market near you, it is an obvious place to look for grass fed beef, pastured chicken, and other similar food. One issue with farmers' markets is that they are not always run at the most convenient times. But they are an opportunity to check out what a bunch of different farms have to offer, and if you find one you like you can ask if they have a farm store, online ordering, or some other way to buy from them.
3.) Searching Online. Given this page's focus, there's a good chance you landed on my website by searching, "where to find grass fed beef" or "grass fed beef near me." Shopping for good grass fed beef online can be tricky - I've already pointed out the issues with sites like ButcherBox - but there are also plenty of good farms out there. If you're not sure about a whether a farm is legit, I recommend giving them a call, or better, setting up a time to visit. A good farm will be happy to answer any question you have, and though many small farms can't accommodate drop in visitors, all should be open to a visit with a minimum of scheduling.
Questions to Ask
Once you've identified a farm you want to check out, here are a few questions you can ask:
1.) If you're looking for local grass fed beef, an obvious place to start is whether the farm truly only feeds grass. But a great follow up - something the farmer should be pretty jazzed to talk about - is the grazing program. A good, grass centered farm manages pasture by moving animals regularly. During the growing season it's best if they move at least once a day, and the herd shouldn't be in one place for longer than three days in any normal circumstance.
2.) It's good to ask if a farmer raises everything they sell. There is absolutely nothing wrong with farms not raising everything. All the chicken I sell is raised by my friends Dave and Rachel. During the height of the COVID shutdowns I purchased pigs from a friend who had previously relied on the restaurant industry. To my mind this is a great way for small farms to work together. But a farmer should happily tell you where everything came from and how it was raised.
3.) Ask if it's possible to visit. Even if you don't necessarily plan on visiting, this is worth asking. A farmer who sells directly to the public should be happy to have the public visit.
I'm a farmer, so I obviously think it's worthwhile to seek out grass fed beef. It tastes better, and I believe it's better for you. My sincere hope is that you find this page useful in your search for high quality, real food. While it can be daunting to figure out what farms (and thus what grass fed beef) is legit and what you should be suspicious of, it doesn't have to be complicated. The best way to know what you're getting is to talk to the farmer. Happy eating!