How do you feel about food transparency? I’m talking animal protein specifically here. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we knew the full story behind what we ate? I mean, you can’t exactly get the whole picture from the pretty label on the cellophane at the grocery store.
What if there was a company out there that wanted to flip the script on the current industrialized meat industry? You know, CAFO’s, aka feedlot mystery animals. What if that company only sourced from small independent ranches (not meat brokers) with humane and sustainable practices? How about if you could do your own additional research into those few ranches, only buy the cuts you were interested in, AND have them shipped right to your door at a reasonable price in environmentally friendly packaging? You’d be down for that, right?
Crowd Cow is genius. Two dudes, longtime buds, teamed up and created exactly that! I stumbled upon their website during my search for Copper River Salmon of all things and have been ordering from them all summer. I love that I can get beautiful protein, properly support a farmer, and have it on my doorstep in under a week.
Here is what I ideally look for when I shop:
- The animal was born and raised on the same ranch (closed herd)
- It was raised humanely
- The ranch has sustainable practices
- The animal was grass-fed or pasture raised
- Its winter sustenance consisted of non-gmo forage or clean grains, that is, pesticide-free and herbicide-free to get started
- The animal was raised hormone-free, steroid-free, antibiotic-free and without growth implants
Once you are on the CC website, you can search by farm or by type of meat and narrow it down from there. You can buy individual cuts, select a curated craft meat box, or subscribe for regular shipments. Once you order, the website creates a passport for you to track and rate what you bought and even recommends recipes.
On the topic of Organic, because I know you’re wondering why it wasn’t first on my list:
“Hi there! This is Evan with Crowd Cow. Thanks for your question! Our ranches practice various organic processes, though they’re not ‘certified organic’ since the process for certification is too arduous and expensive for small ranchers. Additionally a farmer must also find a small scale processor that is certified organic in order for the meat to carry an organic label – and there are very few of those processors that will accept small farms. We share the story and farming practices of every farm we partner with on our site so you can decide for yourself which farm you want to purchase from. Please let us know if you have any additional questions!”Evan from Crowd Cow – customer support
If you’re already a farmer’s market regular but can’t always get there, this might be a great option to consider. I’ve already passed their information along to a favorite local farm of ours. If you only shop the grocery store but you’re interested in adding healthier options into the dinner-time rotation, this is an easy, hassle-free service. If you already buy local craft meat but you want to taste around, then you have to check out Crowd Cow.
Final thoughts – many of these items are not inexpensive. I still purchase 2- 3 lbs of organic air-chilled chicken from Big Y every week to cover work lunches and at least one weeknight dinner. With red meat like beef and pork – yes pork is a mammal and considered red meat – it’s important to remember that what the animal eats, how it was raised, and its living conditions are ultimately reflected in the end product. You’ve heard the saying, “you are what you eat,” yes? Chronic illness is, for the most part, avoidable through diet and lifestyle choices. If we continue to dine on feedlot animals throughout the course of our lives, we not only deteriorate our own health, we deteriorate the environment and the communities surrounding those lots as well. Is the cheaper chicken worth it?
At our house, we are on a path to be a little more mindful of the meat we consume, how much we eat, and the frequency. I came from a meat/starch/veg household. Anyone else? These days, I am weaving vegan, vegetarian, and seafood meals into our weekly diet. It’s all good!
Here are a few websites if you could use a little inspo:
I’m not really digging what I’ve been reading in regards to Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) lately either. This is the combination of gasses that is pumped under the film wrap to keep our proteins looking fresh. I’ll save that tangent for another day…