It's a good time to be asking this question with supply chain bottlenecks and inflation being issues that aren't going away anytime soon. Still, it's not for everyone. Consider these three questions and you'll have a better idea if it makes sense for you and your family.
1. Do I have the space?
This is usually the first question that comes to mind when thinking about buying meat in bulk. Buying a beef share is typically done in quarters, halves (aka side of beef), or a whole.
A quarter of beef is approximately 90lbs of beef
A side of beef is approximately 180-200lbs of beef
A whole beef can range from 375-400lbs of beef
We often work with friends and family that go in together to split a half. This can be a good option for those worried about limited freezer space. Maybe you have a hunter in the family and have a dedicated chest freezer or upright freezer already. You'll need about 4-6 cubic ft of available freezer space per quarter of beef.
2. What will I get and what will I do with it?
Another topic to consider is variety and cooking technique. Regardless of which size you go with, about half of your share will be ground beef. The good news is that you know what to do with ground beef. It's a staple and a crowd-pleaser. You have to do an honest assessment of your interest and skills in cooking. One of the things about buying a share of an animal is that you get to appreciate the actual proportions of different cuts from that animal. Just as a pig is not entirely bacon, a cow is not entirely made of ribeye steak. Are you interested in learning to cook Osso Buco, oxtail, make bone broth, or beef tongue? If yes, then you should definitely pursue buying a beef share. If not, well that's okay too. There are ways to make cut selections that avoid these cuts altogether. But, it can be one of the advantages to buying a beef share if you see it that way. On the less adventurous side, it does give you the opportunity to step up your grilling, braising, and slow cooking skills if you're looking for that.
3. Is it a good value?
This is an important question but also a loaded one. The answer is, it depends. It depends on what you value. Buying beef in bulk from a local farmer means also using a local processor. Most grocery store beef has gone through the factory farmed system and was processed by one of the four major meat packers. They process about 300+ animals/hour at a cost of about $50/animal. Our local processor does about 20-25 animals per week and charges around $700+/animal. For this reason, among many others related to scale and efficiency this is not bargain priced beef. However, buying local, pasture raised, grass fed beef will win on quality every time. In terms of health for you and your family, in terms of environmental impact, and in terms of peace of mind and security. You're participating in sourcing your own food as directly as possible next to raising it yourself. The experience will bring you a deeper connection to the food that fuels you and the community that you're a part of.
Hopefully this was a little helpful.
There's a lot to consider, but if you are interested and would like to learn more, hop on over to our website and check out what we are able to offer to fill your freezer and satisfy your taste-buds.
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