Grass Fed Beef
Questions for a Farmer
- Can I visit? The whole idea of local agriculture is to build stronger connections between rural and urban, between people and the land, between fields and dinner plates. Most small farmers can't accommodate unannounced visits, but anyone worth buying from should be more than happy to schedule a time to show you around if you give them a call.
- How often do you move your cows? While it would be possible to raise a cow on grass without moving it, best practices involve much more active management. Ideally, a herd of grazing cows moves to fresh grass every day of the growing season, though anything up to three days is fine.
- What's your definition of grass fed beef? This gets right at the heart of it. You can follow up with questions about grain or seed supplements, but the farmer should be up front with you about what they do and don't feed.
- What's your farming philosophy? Fine, this one isn't strictly necessary if you're just trying to figure out whether or not a local farm has real grass fed beef. But it might start an interesting conversation!
There's nothing wrong with this type of pricing, but you should ask for clear numbers on the average per pound cost of the beef you will end up with.
Third, some farmers sell by the cut. So you'll pay $24.00 for a strip steak. Hopefully you'll at least be given a range of weights - maybe .7-1.00 pounds in this example. While it makes inventory easier for the farmer, be careful. The smaller the range, the more certain you are of the actual price you'll pay.
Finally, some farmers (as well as many of the big national brands) sell by the serving. This is okay if the the per pound price is also prominently visible, but if it's buried. deep in the description, I advise looking somewhere else. The only reason to sell "by the serving" without also including a per pound price is to trick people into thinking they're getting more meat than they really are.
Ultimately, I'd avoid anyone who won't be upfront about the real cost of what you're buying.
Why Local is BestWhile this map should make it easy to find a local farm that raises real grass fed beef, no farm can be as convenient as going to the grocery store. But I hope you will take the time to find an actual farm to buy from. As I said a minute ago, it's hard to be confident that anything from a big chain is what it claims to be.
Beyond that, most small farmers really do want to make the world better. We want to raise healthy food from healthy animals on healthy land. From grain subsidies to feedlots the entire food system is stacked against the ethical production of real food. To succeed, a better type of farming will need a lot of support!
Final ThoughtsI've done my best to make this as user-friendly as possible. But if you don't see what you're looking for here, I suggest checking out eatwild. It lists more farms than I have here, but they are not restricted to grass fed beef. Also, the site can be awful to navigate, especially on a phone or tablet.
If there are any questions I can answer, please don't hesitate to write firstname.lastname@example.org.