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better prices for ethically raised meat?

mstrimel Oct 16, 2010 10:50 AM

I just recently got a bee in my bonnet about trying to stop eating factory farmed meat. I've been buying from framers markets in the area, but can't quite afford it ... the prices seem to be about 4x grocery store prices. I get that I will have to pay quite a bit more, but is there anywhere to get a happy medium on the prices? Would be happy to buy in bulk, share a cow, whatever, but don't know where to look.

  1. c
    Culocho Oct 19, 2010 08:57 AM

    Organic Butcher in McLean is not unreasonable.

    1. i
      ivysmom Oct 17, 2010 04:37 PM

      Nick's Organic Beef in Potomac, MD has great beef, mostly organic, ethically raised. We have been buying beef from him for a number of years, you can buy from 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 or whole cow.

      1. chowser Oct 17, 2010 04:06 PM

        A couple of places:



        The first one will give you a list of farmers in the area who sell to the pubic and you can read about their practices. They're not all certified but they're very open about how they raise animals and how to buy them.

        1. JonParker Oct 17, 2010 08:00 AM

          Springfield Farm, north of Baltimore. Excellent meat, sustainably raised. If you go there it's quite a bit cheaper than if you buy at markets.

          1. w
            weezycom Oct 16, 2010 05:53 PM

            if you go to eatwild.com, you can choose your state/region, and they'll have a listing for different organic and sustainable ranchers and farmers and many of them have websites where they list if they deliver to this area, if they have group buying ("cowpooling") and things like that. Several do deliver to this area about 1x/month to every 6 weeks. Others are close enough you can drive out to their farm.

            1. d
              Doh Oct 16, 2010 05:30 PM

              If you want to buy in bulk (half or quarter cow), you could try West Wind Farm (westwindfarm.biz), but you might have missed the season (if you have, you can buy "samplers" but they are more expensive per pound I think). We've tried the samplers and been happy, but decided that buying bulk frozen meat was not for us.

              1. m
                Milocat1 Oct 16, 2010 03:46 PM

                Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine (10/10/10) focused on food and had an article about people who went together and bought a cow for the very reasons you name. Not sure how useful it would be but you may get some ideas. Article was titled "Cow-munity." Anyway, may be worth reading.

                1. Dennis S Oct 16, 2010 01:41 PM

                  We've been finding some decent prices with South Mountain Creamery. But in general I know what you mean.

                  I haven't looked into it around here, but you should be able to get with someone raising the animals and buy half or whole of whatever (thinking pig or cow primarily). Easily the best way, and I loved this growing up, splitting a cow every year from my Grandpa's farm.

                  1. z
                    Ziv Oct 16, 2010 12:51 PM

                    Your comment really strikes a chord with me, since my Mom raises Angus cattle, free range, minimal use of antibiotics, natural grazing 3 seasons with hay and cake during the winter, and then she auctions them to be finished in a feedlot where they stand in filth, are fed high nutrient feed mixed made from God knows what stuffed with antibiotics to stave off disease made likely by the overcrowding and filthy conditions. Then that beef is sent to you as Certified Angus Beef.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Ziv
                      ivysmom Oct 16, 2010 04:23 PM

                      Ziv - must your mom send the beef to a feedlot? I think people would pay a decent price for her beef if she could find a place to cut it for her.

                      1. re: ivysmom
                        Ziv Oct 17, 2010 07:35 AM

                        She does sell some through a local butcher, but every cattleman is looking to sell to the locals where she has her ranch in Montana so she sells the vast majority of her yearlings at auction. I have asked her if she would like me to set up a website with live cams of her pastures, with a picture of a filthy feedlot to one side. Then put a header at the top of the web page, "Where do you want your steak to come from?"
                        Grammar issues aside, it has a certain resonance, I think. But she is not too thrilled with my idea.

                        1. re: Ziv
                          hill food Oct 17, 2010 11:32 PM

                          generational reluctance. I've tried to explain the interest in locavore and sustainable to my folks, but they think on the WMart level and that nobody would ever consider even a few % points over whatever crap goes. sad. cause if we could bring the price point down to something less than the OP mentions and properly marketed it, I honeestly believe there is a populace that's looking for this.

                          to the OP: call around to small meat lockers in about a 75+ mile radius and bring coolers. it can be found. if not strictly ethical the quality, even frozen, is vastly superior to the regular grocery store junk.

                          1. re: hill food
                            monkeyrotica Oct 18, 2010 03:15 AM

                            Actually, Walmart is making a long-term push into the organic/urban grocery sector in an attempt to capture Wholefoods' demographic. I think ultimatelyl they're the ones who will make the biggest impact on sustanable farming, seeing as their bulk purchases drive costs through the floor.


                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                              hill food Oct 18, 2010 10:54 AM

                              after all these years it is sort of astounding how Walmart is attempting to change. will they ever get to an acceptable position? I dunno. but they do appear to be trying.

                              1. re: hill food
                                dpan Oct 18, 2010 11:53 AM

                                Why should anyone be surprised? They are a business intent on making money. If they feel their customers will pay for organic or high end groceries, they will carry them. It's not rocket science.

                                1. re: dpan
                                  monkeyrotica Oct 18, 2010 05:06 PM

                                  Target is also expanding their grocery items to include organics and sustainables. Suburban grocery profits are starting to plateau. The only real growth is in urban markets and higher end foodstuffs. Whether local sustainable suppliers can keep up with this demand is another question, but more competition means lower prices for organic providers.

                                  If I were Sysco, I'd be investing in small local farms.

                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                    fudizgud Oct 18, 2010 06:23 PM

                                    I don't think Walmart is buying from small family owned farms practicing sustainable agriculture. Corporate organics whihc is the bulk of what Whole Foods Market and almost exclusively what WalMart sells is jus the same old crap with a few less chemicals in it. IMO Earthbound Farm and Horizon Milk are neither sustainable or are they really concerned with the environment.

                                    Take a look at most of what you see at a Whole Foods...


                                    Whole Foods Market
                                    1700 Duke St, Alexandria, VA

                                  2. re: dpan
                                    hill food Oct 18, 2010 08:48 PM

                                    it doesn't surprise me they are looking to make money, it does surprise me they would recognize that their demographic might in fact be interested. it does sort of mess with the 'brand', but then as a former scoffer I'm often surprised by what one can find there.

                                    1. re: hill food
                                      dpan Oct 19, 2010 06:14 AM

                                      Walmart is one of the most astute retailers in the world. They know what their customers want and caters to them. Look at their stores in China and what they carry. They have been very successful there because of their emphasis on following the local customs and consumer trends.

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