I’m in the middle of a debate with myself. Which is a better purchase?
- 100% grass-fed animal products sold at Whole Foods that might or might not be humanely raised, from an faceless farm in different state many many miles away?
local humanely-raised outdoors, mostly grass-fed but also fed corn & soy?
local humanely-raised outdoors, 100% grass-fed, but at a much higher cost to purchase?
I had a long conversation with a local farmer at the farmer’s market yesterday. He pasture-raises his animals, but he also supplements with soy and corn feed. I don’t necessarily agree with all his reasons to feed GMO corn and soy, but our discussion was enlightening.
Corn-fed beef tastes more familiar to consumers than 100% grassfed, and it’s more cost effective.
He didn’t come right out and say it, but reading between the lines, I realized that as a farmer, you’re trying to sell to many people, so it’s necessary to make local humanely-raised animals more attractive and accessible by keeping the cost as low as you can, and at the same time, offering a meat product that tastes better but more “familiar” to the consumer.
He is a responsible farmer. He uses no chemical fertilizers, as the fields are self-fertilized by the animals. He’s sustainable, and that’s more than we can say about the majority of other farms (even organic) across the country.
I wrestle with the idea of adding corn/soy to a cow’s diet, and I know there are other local farms that do not feed corn and soy, but they also have to charge much much more. Is it worth the extra cost? Perhaps, yes, or perhaps it doesn’t matter so much either way because we personally limit our animal product consumption, and eat mostly plant based foods.
Or perhaps it doesn’t matter because the animals and the farmland they are raised on, are treated with respect and care by ALL of these farmers.
Then it hit me. I realized the most important question I should be asking is how well the animal is being treated? As long as an animal is raised with respect, on land that is equally respected, THAT is a good life. THAT should be priority number one!
So I did purchase a few items from that farmer. I bought a small whole chicken, a beefalo brisket, and a small picnic pork roast. My total was just shy of $60. I’m still considering other sources, but it’s a start for me in my quest for local meat!
PS He told me he feeds about 5-6 pounds of formulated grain (no anti-biotic or growth hormones) to each his beef cows per day; from what I gathered online, the average feedlot cow eats about 20 pounds of corn/grain per day, so, if my calculations are correct, his animals are not getting a whole lot of corn/soy per day and are mostly grass fed.