When it comes to making the switch to real food, one of the most common questions I receive is: “Where should I buy meat? I can’t give up my hamburgers, please help!”
Friend, you don’t have to give up your Sunday night burger just because you’ve taken the pledge to eat “real”. That’s the beauty and freedom of real food. Welcome to a world that’s free of restrictions and starvation.
Real food is about finding better alternatives to the food so many of us love and enjoy. Making the real food switch means saying “good-bye” to freezer biscuits, enjoying a flaky, homemade version instead. And bypassing the cookie dough aisle for flour, sugar, and real butter to make homemade cookies that melt-in-your-mouth. This thing we call “real food” is one of the most freeing (and delicious) choices one can make.
Eating meat in a real food diet simply means finding better alternatives. I don’t need to preach to the choir about the scary facts of conventional meat. Let’s review a few of the basic reasons to say “no” to the meat so many of us are accustomed to purchasing:
1. Sick Animals and Antibiotics: “Antibiotic-Free” is the big buzz word for meat. We should be concerned about the overuse of antibiotics in our food supply. Overuse of antibiotics in animal feed has helped contribute to the continual antibiotic resistance of bacterial infections in humans.
Can we remove antibiotics and solve the issue? My vote is “NO!” Animals kept on conventional “farms” live in less than ideal conditions and are fed a diet consisting of unnatural food (corn, animal by-products, etc). The result? Sick animals in need of antibiotics. Without caring for the heart of the issue, the problem will never be solved.
2. Pink Slime: Ring a bell? Pink Slime is a processed meat by-product considered safe by the USDA and found in the majority of ground beef sold in conventional stores. Pink slime is “made from connective tissue (versus meat muscle) and fat, and is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill salmonella and E. coli.” (Source)
3. A Poor Diet: Conventional meat is fed a diet consisting of corn and soy, along with many other ingredients. What’s the big deal with corn and soy? For a cow, this diet is far from natural. Cows are naturally grazers who belong on pasture, eating grass. Supplement is often needed, but the large majority of a cow’s diet should consist of grass found in open pasture. For a chicken this means roaming freely eating bugs, seeds, leafy greens, real food scraps, and a supplemented natural feed. For pigs this looks like open space foraging for grass, nuts, seeds, and roots.
4. The Unknown Origin Factor: Meat from the conventional grocery store is mystery meat without a farmer’s name attached to the label. Today, we’ve grown accustomed to blind-buying, not knowing the direct source of our food supply. Isn’t that what got us into this whole food mess to begin with?
“What’s the alternative?” I’m so glad you asked, because there is a wonderful alternative!
Real meat comes from animals raised in natural, open conditions (think: nature), raised on “natural” food. Farmers’ seek the very best practices and care about the beginning, middle, and end result; not just the profit. This kind of meat is not easily found in conventional stores, but there are several resources for finding meat that’s been raised with integrity.
Five Resources for Finding Grass-Fed Meat:
1. Natural Food Store: Many natural food stores have answered the demand for pastured meat. I always ask the butcher behind the counter a few question about the meat options: Where does the meat come from? How were the animals raised? What kind of diet did the animals eat?
2. Food Co-op: A food co-op is generally a small food club where members purchase products in bulk, often at a cheaper price than the natural food store. Food co-ops often require a membership fee, but joining can add up to significant savings over time. You can learn more about my co-op here.
3. Farmer’s Market: Farmer’s markets are a wonderful venue for connecting farms with consumers. If you’re looking for individual cuts and speciality meat selections this is a great option. Farmer’s markets often charge vendors to set up shop, so meat costs may reflect such charges.
4. Farm: Finding local farms sounds difficult, but thanks to sites like eatwild.com and eatlocalgrown.com the job gets a bit easier. Yes, this option requires more time researching and calling/emailing farms, but you are able to hand-pick the farm with standards you feel are important.
5. Farm-to-Door Delivery Service: Finding pastured meat just got a whole lot easier! Yep, you can now order pastured meat and have it delivered straight to your door. Nothing like putting the pizza delivery man to shame. “Do you deliver grass-fed steak, sir?”
Finding grass-fed, pastured meat is completely doable when you look outside the big conventional grocery store. Finding the right resources for buying meat means burger night can be healthy and extra delicious!
Great option! As many other great things u’ve shared…thank u!!!!! But I have a question, would buying certified organic meat (beef, chicken, etc) be enough?
Hey Diana, If you can find grass-fed beef and pastured chicken (or pork) that would be the best. If not, organic is going to be the next best option–it doesn’t mean the animals are pastured, but it’s a step up (from my research) from conventional options.
This is a great primer on the why and how of buying pastured products, Kristin! I’ll be posting along similar lines soon and will definitely share this link with my readers. 🙂
Thanks, Dena. I can’t wait to read your post.
This sounds terrific. I am headed over to their site next. I have been looking into home delivery services – what a lovely option. Thanks for sharing!!
For people who don’t have access to locally sourced meats, this could really make a difference! While I expect the cost of shipping might make it cost prohibitive for many, there are surely others who can justify the extra expense to feed their families clean meat and support the farmers who raise it. Great idea.
Absolutely, Kris. It’s great there are so many options available today so people can shop around for what works best for their budget, time, and local area.
I love this! We have a local online farmer’s market that has been a great resource for us to find all sorts of fresh, local food. I’m so excited to see something like that available on a bigger scale!
That’s awesome, Nina! What a great local resource.
So so cool! I find that one of the biggest hurdles to sourcing and using great ingredients is the number of different stores I have to visit (with my three little kids in tow!) to get everything I need at the best prices (to fit our tight budget). Doesn’t get much easier or convenient than having it show up at my front door! Thanks for the intro to this great company!
Ooh I love it! They have farms everywhere that they work with…I wasn’t expecting to see any in my area but they have a bunch! I’m bookmarking their page to order at some point and I’m going to spread the word to local farmers around here that might be interested! Such a great concept for a company!
I love the huge variety of local farm choices too, Catherine!
What a great service! We try to buy our meats in bulk (or hunt) but there are some things that we end up buying conventionally.. this sounds like a much better alternative <3
Hey Aubrey, Yes, I think you’ll love the wide variety found on HGC’s site! Everything from 1/2 a cow to smaller choices.
I didn’t know about Homegrown Cow – thanks for sharing, Kristin! Looks like I’ll be ordering from them soon 🙂
You’re welcome, Ashley. You’ll love the meat selection from so many amazing farms.
I love your what you said “Real Food is about finding better alternatives”. I truly believe we don’t have to give up all those things we people think are unhealthy. I go out of my way to try to find high-quality meet products, and as a busy mom a delivery service of products I can trust sounds just what I need! Thanks for letting me know about this company!
Oh my goodness! What a great idea. I’m loving their site… it’s so clean and organized. Definitely easy to shop on. Plus, they have a huge selection… even dairy! And, I’m seeing that they have a large selection of farms that they work with which is awesome. This is a great option if local sourcing is slim. Love it. Thanks for sharing about this company Kristin!
I was thrilled too, Meagan! Homegrown Cow is like a candy shop for the real foodie!
What a fantabulous option for sourcing quality grass-fed meats. Bravo to this company for helping to fill this need. Many people in any areas have a hard time locating pastured meats. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing this resource. I will share with my readers. 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Jessica! I’m absolutely thrilled to find their service. I’m one of those real foodies that has a hard time sourcing pastured meat, so this is an answer to my bacon-lover’s prayers!
My family doesn’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do we try our best to find the healthiest option. I am so happy to hear about Homegrown Cow! I have a feeling this service can help me save a lot of time when I am planning my family’s meals.
Hey Daniele, Homegrown Cow offers so many options, from 1/4 cow to finding smaller “packages”. Homegrown Cow is a great option for saving time and money for those who eat hamburgers every night or the once-in-a-while meat eater. You’ll love their wonderful service :).
I’m so jealous that you have service like that available back in the US. I totally wish I could find something like that here in Spain.
While I think in general the quality of the meat is better here, Spain is one of the only producers of GMOs in Europe, and it is very difficult for me to find non-GMO feed for my hens even, so you know the conventional meat being sold here is eating GMO feed.
I just finally rejoiced at finding a place that sells mostly grass fed beef, but it’s very inconvenient to go there. If only they delivered to my home like that company!
Hey Tracy, Wow! I had no idea Spain was one of the only producers of GMOs in Europe :(. This kind of service would be awesome in Europe!! I love that real food is slowly getting easier to find thanks to companies like Homegrown Cow!
What a fantastic company and neat service. Sourcing great meat can be difficult depending on where you live and I love that this breaks down so many barriers to accessing great food for my family. Thanks for sharing!
Hey Kristen, I agree. Finding pastured meat can be so difficult! I’m thrilled Homegrown Cow is providing such a wonderful online community shop for finding great meat.
I agree, Kristen. Sourcing meat, I believe, is one of the hardest tasks for a real foodie. I’m thrilled there are so many wonderful options available today. You’re welcome :).