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Friday, November 13, 2009

Eating local, grass-fed beef

Every fall, we order a quarter cow.  Yes, that's what we call it around here.  The meat from 1/4 of a cow to fill our freezer and feed us for a year.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a part of the country with plenty of small farmers who still raise their happy cows on pasture.  And fortunate enough to have a wonderful butcher shop nearby.

I grew up eating the meat from this particular butcher shop. It's the best meat you'll ever taste. 

Usually, each fall we order our quarter of beef from the shop.  We just take whatever local farmer's meat they happen to have on hand.

However, this fall we were lucky to discover that one of our close friends' parents raise pastured cows.

We went in with others and were able to get a whole cow processed (each taking a quarter).

Another bonus for those who buy meat this way - the meat is processed at the same price for the entire quarter.  So, let's say you pay $3 per pound for all the meat.  That means you are paying $3 per pound for not only the ground beef, but also for the t-bone steaks, the porterhouse steaks, fajita meat, roasts, etc.  It's a win-win situation!

To us, this is normal.  It's how we get good meat.  Each time I taste meat from the grocery store, I cringe.  It tastes..... horribleDisgusting. It brings images of factory farms and unhappy animals.   Nothing like the meat we get from our local shop.  I laughed when, a few months ago, TIME magazine ran an article talking about this "new" way to buy local meat.  They spoke of people going together to buy a cow from a local farmer to be shared amongst them.  Guess I was surprised because I assumed this was not something unique.  Guess I was wrong again.

We're definitely blessed, living somewhere where we can enjoy the freshest, best-quality local meats. 


  1. Yes yes yes!!!!! M.Pollan's 'Omnivore's Dilemma' pastoral cause in action!! Would love more info on the farm that your group purchased the beef from, considering doing this myself. Thank you and very happy to have discovered your blog.


  2. Hi Wendy,
    The meat sold at "Lena Maid Meats" in Lena, Illinois ( is locally raised and antibiotic free. You can walk into their store and buy a small amount (a pound of ground beef or pork, for example) or you can order a box (they have brochures or can explain over the phone). If you are looking to buy more than that, you can buy a quarter cow directly from them for around $3 a pound. (Pork is even cheaper.) You can go in with others or buy directly from a farmer who gets his processed there, if you know a local farmer. Most of the time, we just purchase directly from the store. Many local farmers raise animals just for Lena Maid Meats. It's all the same great quality.
    If you want to make sure (I'm not sure it's all grass-fed), just ask when you call and tell them exactly what you're looking for. They're very friendly and helpful.
    Phone: 815-369-4522
    p.s. The beef we purchased this time was raised by a friend's family. He only farms part-time, so I'm not sure how much meat he actually sells to the public. I would hate to post any contact info without asking first.

  3. I should also mention that if you enter Lena Maid Meat's store, you will view the cutting area through a large window. You can see the staff cutting the meat. If you are sensitive to seeing a carcass hanging (it's just the meat portion) you might want to re-think it.
    I think it's great. They're certainly not hiding anything in their operation.

  4. Thanks for the return info and so quickly! I have been into Lena meats but just once as my purchase of their bacon I found to be incredibly too salty---I live in Freeport too. Will go back and ask questions about grass-fed, and try it out! --finding you here today I'm just excited about your garden and having the opportunity to purchase local produce from you!