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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bulk Beef - On the Hoof

black angus cowsBlack Angus Cows
July 2, 2009

Sadly in today's times of mega supermarkets many people are quite distanced from where their food actually comes from. Some of our friends and family who are elementary school teachers (JK, primary) have told me that many of their students when questioned about food think that their food simply comes from the grocery store rather than farms and orchards. Most people have become accustomed to buying whatever produce and meats they want regardless of the season without considering the distance the food has travelled. The average food travels 1,500 miles from the farmer to your table. This is not eco-friendly at all! Compounding the problem is the recent surge in food contaminated with pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella as well as the use of hormones when raising meats. More so now than ever it is important to get to know your food source by purchasing locally within a 100 mile radius of your home. Doing so not only supports local farmers but ensures you a real connection and greater appreciation of food.

I have often mentioned purchasing meat in bulk on the hoof on this blog. This is a term widely used in rural areas but people living in urban areas, purchasing all their meats in handy ready-to-use packages often as what buying on the hoof is. Pictured above is the small herd of Black Angus cattle (5 cows) our friend is raising. Aren't they gorgeous? We have already spoken for two cows that will be ready in spring 2010 so it is bought on the hoof while the cow is still alive. These Black Angus are pasture fed spring to early fall then supplemented with hay and corn in the winter months. They are raised hormone free using excellent animal husbandry skills which very important to us!

We along with three other couples pay for the cow(s) in late winter. The meat is divided equally amongst the couples. The cow is taken to an abattoir for slaughter, hanging and cutting. The cow hangs in a controlled temperature cooler for two weeks before it can be cut. Hanging ages the beef which causes tenderization of the meat through the release of enzymes in the muscles that cause a further breakdown of the connective tissue. The aged meat is then cut to our specifications, packaged and froze ready for the freezer. This spring we had the cow cut front to back then divided into quarters so we ended up with cuts from both the front and hind quarter. We paid $2.35/lb across all cuts for 220 lb of beef which works out to enough beef to serve 1.3 lb per day for 6 full months for our family. We of course do not eat beef daily so this is just to illustrate how long this beef would last.

5 food lovers commented:

nipsy said...

I miss being able to buy our beef this way. We used to go to the cow auctions from the 4H at the fairs, but the prices just got ridiculous.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Nipsy, I've missed you on Twitter. I do hope things are going well for you and the kids! We could go to the auctions but have found buying through family and friends we are assured of the quality of the beef. Buying beef this way is always cheaper than in the stores here so it's surprising the prices where you were got that high and a down right shame. I was in 4H as well even though I wasn't a farm kid. It was a good experience!

Charlotte said...

I nominated you for a blogger award. See my blog to accept it.

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks so much Charlotte :)

Garden Gnome said...

Elizabeth affording bulk meat purchase can be rather scary. One easy way to do it is go in with other couples so you don't have as much of a financial outlay. The other way is to glean off the cost from your regular grocery bill and save that for your bulk meat purchases. Once you get into a routine of buying in bulk it becomes rather easy to afford. An easy way to start is just as you are with your bulk purchases then put away the money you normally would have spent on meat while you are using up that meat away. What you are doing is spending the same amount in food dollars except X amount is going towards your beef on the hoof. HTH