When you imagine buying a beef, a whole beef, it's hard to grasp how much meat you might be getting. Even when we got the call that our meat was ready, and that it was 750 pounds, we knew on a high level that was a lot...but how much freezer space would it take up? How many little packages make up 750 pounds?
First, a little about the cow in question. My brother raises a small (hobby herd) of cattle, selling one or two each year to friends and family. So this summer I committed us to a cow, knowing that we could take a quarter of it, another quarter to some friends and the remaining half would go to another brother and sister-in-law, who have 7 little angels at home.
Even though a quarter cow still sounded like a lot, we had no idea of what to expect. Did we buy too much? Too little? The price was right...$2.75 a pound for everything from top-round to sirloin to ground beef, which is a FAR cry from the prices at the farmer's markets here in Seattle. And while it's not certified "Organic", I've seen first hand the cows grazing grounds, and let me tell you, it's pretty idyllic. They graze on pesticide free grass on rolling hills that look like something out of an Ansel Adams photo.
So on Friday night, we borrowed a pick-up truck from my parents, and drove east, crossing two mountain passes through rain, sleet and just a little snow. We made it in over 6 hours. The next morning, we headed to the butcher to pick up said beef, and after loading it into the back of the pick-up, we realized that it wasn't too much, or too little...a quarter cow seemed about perfect. In total, we had about 2 and a half boxes of fantastic meat...low fat content, good color, and great taste. And the best part? We managed to squeeze it all in our stand up freezer.
All in all, buying local meat is so worth the investment. Beyond being less expensive and tastier, it is really nice knowing that where your food comes from. And it's so easy to find local, fantastic meat here in Washington, that I hope more people reach out and make the effort. It's so worth it.
(a few pics from our drive)