The concept behind the meat share program is to purchase a set quantity of meat from a local farmer that may be delivered on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. The concept is similar to a CSA. Each meat share program may vary slightly depending on the farm but most usually offer several options. Usually you can make a decision to purchase a beef, pork or chicken package, or a combination package. This allows you to select what your family eats the most.
Again prices will vary from farm to farm but purchasing a meat share, similar to purchasing in bulk it usually offers a deep discount over purchasing the same meat from a local grocery store. Usually the larger the share you purchase, the greater the discount.
One of the farms that I am aware of here in Arkansas that offers a meat share program is Falling Sky Farms. They are a small family owned sustainable farm that offers 100% grass-fed beef, and organically raised pork and chicken as well as seasonal duck and turkeys. Depending on what your family would like, you can purchase a 1/4 or a 1/2 of beef or hog or 12 or 24 chickens. Or you can purchase one of their full meat share packages and receive 1/4 beef, 1/4 hog, 24 chickens and 1 turkey. Their full meat share package even comes with the use of a freezer for a year. With all that meat, you certainly would need one for meat right?
To give you an idea, here is what our local Quarter beef would include (approximately 70-80 pounds of beef):
1 round roast 3-4 pounds
1 chuck roasts 3-4 pounds
1 sirloin roast 3-4 pounds
Sirloin, Rib, NY Strip and Filet Steaks cut to 1.25 inches, 12-15 pounds of steak.
Approximately 35-40 pounds of ground beef.
Stew and Kabob Meat 3-5 pounds
Minute Steaks (cubed round steak) 3-5 pounds
- Soup Bones and selection of organ meats 10-12 pounds
So what would be the benefits of purchasing a meat share? To start you have the option to choose who will be raising your meat. So you can get to know your local farmer, get to know how he raises his animals, what he feeds them and the conditions they are in. That is second best to raising it yourself! Your meat will be fresh, usually you can select to receive your meat as soon as it has been butchered, sometimes even picking it up directly from the butcher yourself. You can help to support your local economy by choosing to purchase from a local farmer that is seeking to farm in a sustainable way. And of course, our goal is to save money right! By cutting out the middle man (the grocery store) you can receive the best price by purchasing directly from the farmer!
For a full meat share locally, you may be looking at close to $1,000. That may seem like a lot of money to fork out, but many times they will offer a payment plan, where you pay a deposit of front to secure your spot in the meat share program and then make monthly payments. When you consider for a family of four, it would provide basically all the meat needed for a year-$1,000 divided by 52 weeks is less than $20 a week for organic meat!
If you are hesitant to purchase a full share then perhaps start small and purchase a package that offers what your family may need for a month to start. You could even find a friend or family member to split the share with. You will see there is such a difference in truly fresh meat.
When you participate in a meat share program you are helping to support your local economy while providing your family with the freshest organic meat possible if you are like me and not yet able to raise your own!