8.17.2010

We are Carnivores

Back in May we began ordering our produce through Farm Fresh Delivery in order to eat a better variety of organic fruits and vegetables. We had already switched our eggs and milk to organic, and as the summer passed, I really began researching where we could buy organic/natural meat. After watching Food, Inc., I just can't make myself buy chicken, beef, and pork at the grocery store, even though the prices are SO tempting! Even when I go out to eat, I find myself sometimes feeling goo about the meat I am eating.

If you know me at all, you know I will research and research something until my eyes cross. I was looking for the best deal on chicken, beef, and pork, and after reviewing the information of 13 different farms across Indiana, I found the best options.

Chicken
As it turns out, natural chicken is the most expensive meat you can buy! I often saw numbers like $6.85/lb when buying chicken breast. My old price point before going all natural with our meat was $1.77. That is quite a jump! However, again, after seeing Food, Inc., I can't eat regular chicken anymore, and I'm not going to feed it to Ryan or Noah either. The best price I found was at Seven Sons, but it is still very pricey. The cheapest option is to buy 20 chickens at once (split them with friends/family if 20 is too many for you), and it will cost you $11 per chicken. If you want them cut up, add an extra dollar per chicken. It ends up being about $3-4/lb. Their website is great for ordering, so check it out!

Beef
I learned WAY TOO MUCH about cows. Again, I found myself reconsidering the vegetarian lifestyle. Vegan even crossed my mind! My friend, Dalia, is married to a guy named Kevin, and he is WAY TOO enthralled by sections of the cow, cuts of meat, preparing meat, etc. I drew the line one day when Kevin said, "Oh yeah, that part of the cow is really delicious. That meat is right there by the kidneys."

SCREECH! HALT!!

No more, Kevin. We are done talking about meat - forever - unless of course you want to tell me that you are grilling me a steak. Then, we can talk.

Anyway, moving on...after again looking at numerous farms and doing the math on hanging weights, live weights, etc., I think the best deal you can find for grass fed beef is at The Swiss Connection outside of Terre Haute. They determine the price based on the hanging weight of the cow. Basically, after they take away all the "junk," what's left to hang in a meat locker for two weeks is what is considered the hanging weight. They charge only $2.35/lb. on the hanging weight. The animals average 500-600 lbs. hanging weight, which would equal somewhere between $1,175-$1,410 for the whole cow. After the cow has hung for two weeks, the weight general will decrease, weighing more like 400-500 lbs. total. We found several friends who wanted to buy meat in bulk, so we are each going to end up with a quarter cow. This will cost each family between $300-350 total. I cannot stress how wonderful this price is, and it includes processing, for which many farms charge extra.

Speaking of processing, the cow is definitely the most time consuming as far as choosing your cuts of meat. Basically, each section of the cow yields various cuts of meat - roasts or steaks. If you don't like the roast or steak option for that section of the cow, they grind that into hamburger meat. The cow, while raised on The Swiss Connection farm, is actually processed by Rice's Quality Farm Meats. I have created an excel spreadsheet (of course I have!) that breaks down each section of the cow, and what options you have. If you decide to buy a cow through these two companies and want a copy, just send me your email address. Because you get cuts from the back and the front of the cow, you will need to purchase at least a half cow. You can then keep all the meat for your family or find another family to go in with you so that you can split the meat. You can't just buy a quarter cow from The Swiss Connection. I hope all of that made sense!

Please note: I am no longer endorsing the aforementioned farm as a place to purchase your beef. Although they provide a great price, I unfortunately have realized that their customer service does not meet our standards. I like good deals, but I am not willing to sacrifice service throughout this process. Good news, though! I have found an even better option that is local, organized, and still provides the quality of meat we desire. Please watch for the future post for more information!

Pork
The most cost-effective place to buy pork is from Moody Meats (the Ladoga Branch). With hogs you buy either a half hog or a whole hog; there is no quarter hog option. Their price is $2.99/lb., and the average hog is approximately 100 lbs. Therefore, you'll pay $150 for a half hog and $300 for a whole hog. If you call them, ask for Ken. He's wonderfully nice and made choosing my cuts of meat very easy over the phone. To give you an idea what a half hog will yield, here is what we ordered: two shoulder roasts (pulled pork sandwiches), baby back ribs, spare ribs, 10 boneless pork chops, 12 bone in pork chops, 3 hams, 5-8 lbs. of bacon, and 15-20 lbs. ground sausage. Is your mouth watering yet?

If you have any other questions, please let me know! I didn't spend all that time and effort finding the best prices for just my family. I want to save everyone else money, too! Plus, it's a great way to introduce natural, organic meat to your family. :)

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