I know we’re not supposed to have favourite family members but, you and I both know we all do. My Mom’s youngest Sister is a wonderful example of a favourite family member. My Aunt Jean (Jeanie) has, since my earliest memories, been the one who always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. Her Father (my Grandfather) was a Butcher as well and a big part of the reason I chose this vocation. I wish he was still with us.
OK so … Jeanie and I were speaking on the phone last week and she told me she was getting ready to buy her beef freezer order and suggested I write a post about buying beef by the quarter or side.
This Blog post today is for her …
From the Farm to the Fork
First things first, you’ll need to do some research and find a farmer. Word of mouth is always a good place to start. Once you’ve found one, I personally recommend visiting the farm as well. This has a couple of benefits. First, you get to meet the people/family that care for the animals and second, you get to see first hand what sort of operation the animals are raised in. Ask questions, inspect the animals. Hormones?? Antibiotics ?? Corn/grain fed ?? Grass fed ?? Look at the pastures. Do the animals have lots of free range movement ?? You don’t have to be an expert to see visual clues as to what sort of operation is raising the food you want to eat.
One of the most important factors for me: the people who raise these animals. Are they, themselves animal lovers. In my opinion this care and attention to detail filters down and produces quality beef. Happy animals = quality beef.
Buying beef in bulk is going to give you A LOT of meat and, unless you have a HUGE family, you may want to partner up with some friends or family members when placing a beef order. The hanging weight of the carcass is in the 600 pound range which will yield around 240 pounds of meat. The side will yield around 120 pounds and the prices charged by the farmer will vary, depending on what you want. This price will include the cost of cutting and wrapping. Whole carcasses being the most economical, sides being the next best deal then quarters depending on which one you prefer (hind quarters are more expensive than fronts).
For the purpose of this example I’m going to use the number 4, (yourself and 3 others) sharing the total price. Buying beef (or pork for that matter) by the carcass, side or quarter can be broken down into component parts and priced out to give you an idea of whether or not it makes sense for you to go this route.
By this I mean, do your due diligence. Buying your beef this way and sharing the total yield with your ‘partners’ means you will each get an assortment of cuts from the entire carcass. You will receive steaks, roasts, stew, ground beef, shanks, bones, offal (heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, tripe) everything.
Meet with your ‘partners’ to determine if any of them have preferences. Some may not want to have any of the offal, some may want only roasts, some may want only steaks. You have to do some research and determine what’s fair for everyone. By that I mean, go to the grocery store and price out each item and do some math.
If you are ‘partnering’ with 3 others on a side of beef, you’ll be sharing the cost of over 120 pounds of meat. Ok so, … using an average price of $5.00 per pound means this will cost your group $600.00.
I’m going to assume everyone in this example has a freezer so the cost of buying one isn’t part of this essay. What IS a number that needs to be factored in is the cost of running your freezer. If it’s an energy efficient one, it should run you in the neighbourhood of $30-35.00/year for electricity.
Alright, by way of an example I just came home from my local grocery store and I have the following numbers for your perusal.
I used the prices from 17 different cuts of beef in the counter. From Ground Beef to Tenderloin, Roasts to Steaks, Stew, Bones, Liver … everything, and added up the price total, then divided by 17 and came up with an ‘average’ cost of $7.60/lb.
Using this example (120 pounds of meat) you can see the cost of buying all these cuts from the grocery store is a whopping of $912.38.
I know you can argue that ‘if’ you only buy meat on sale (specials) and don’t buy any of the expensive cuts, you can cut that average cost down by probably $1.50-2.00/lb. BUT …. look at it this way: when you buy a side … YOU GET ALL THE CUTS, expensive and otherwise and … you are now an active participant in the “Farm to Fork” movement, supporting your ‘Local’ farmers AND buying better quality grass-fed, free range, happy beef, all at a lower cost … imagine that !! 🙂
Until next time, thanks for reading and following and … please come back and comment, ‘like’ and follow my posts through WordPress. I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.
I REALLY appreciate your support.
Stay hungry Carnivores 🙂