Where’s The Local Meat?
Just a few decades ago, professional butchers traveled door-to-door, helping families cut and preserve the meat they raised. Those folks who did not have their own animals to butcher contracted with a butcher shop, usually purchasing meat in quantity and storing it in a freezer locker to which the buyers had a key and access throughout the week. (Hence the term ‘locker beef’) Meat counters in grocery stores replaced this system, making it possible to purchase fresh meat each week.
But today, as more and more ranchers return to the marketplace to sell directly to consumers, it is again common for individuals to buy meats locally and in quantity—typically by quarter, half, or whole animals. Buying meat in quantity allows you to choose not only what quality of animal you would like—how the animal is raised and fed —but also exactly how you want the meat cut and packaged. How thick do you want your steaks, for example? Most of the time, buying a whole animal or part of an animal will be cheaper than if you were to buy the same meat as individual retail cuts—there is an economy to buying in bulk.