When it comes to buying meat, we know that the most sustainable choice is to purchase locally-raised cuts. Better yet, go in with friends or neighbors and purchase an entire animal to share, making good use of each cut. While we choose to make our home a no-meat zone, we do think that if meat is going to be a part of the diet, it ought to be farmed, raised, and butchered in a sustainable way.
Here's a guide to doing it right.
Iowa State University and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program have an easily accessible PDF that lays out whole-animal buying for beef and pork. It clarifies, in non-farmer terms, how much meat an animal can provide, live weight versus the finished cut weight, how to handle and age the meats, and more.
We think the key to environmentally responsible meat-eating is to do so in a sustainable manner—by purchasing a share of a locally-raised animal. So if our household ever makes the shift back to meat eating, we'll be doing just that. In fact, we already have a group of friends who buy shares of local grass-fed organic beef each season, like a CSA just for meat. There's one thing, though, when purchasing meat this way: a need for storage space. When you're bringing home a portion of a cow at a time, there's got to be plenty of room in the freezer.
Have you bought meat this way? If so, what tips do you have?