Where’s the Beef?
It is in the grocery store, at the restaurant that is still delivering, and in my deep freeze. My husband and I are cattle farmers. I’m a fifth-generation farmer, while he, on the other hand, never touched a cow until he was 14 years old. Cattle are our passion, and now they are also our business.
COVID-19 and Farm Life
My husband and I were working from home before working from home was the thing to do. That doesn’t mean we aren’t missing our trips to town or get-togethers with friends. I’m right there with you wondering if Target and Ulta miss me as much as I miss them.
Historically this is always a busy season on the farm and I’m grateful for the distractions. We have new baby calves, spring vaccinations to give with the assistance of our veterinarian and we are already breeding our cows for the calves that will arrive in 2021.
Getting more calls from YOU, the consumers, is the biggest change we have seen. Consumers want beef and other proteins. You are telling us about your concerns over meat shortages due to meat processing facilities and you want to get stocked up now. While we really don’t know what meat supply is going to look like later this year, I can’t fault you for wanting to make sure you have hamburger and steaks ready for summer grilling.
Where to Get Your Meat
When I am taking my weekly or biweekly trips to the grocery store I am still seeing beef and lots of other protein sources available at the meat counter. That meat at your grocery store is produced by farmers just like me. Shopping at your grocery store or ordering carne asada from the Mexican takeout place supports all farmers. However, many consumers want to go direct to the source. This is also a good option, but there are a few things you must take into consideration.
Buying Beef Direct
Many farmers’ business models are selling direct to the consumer. These farmers have taken extra steps to have their products inspected by the USDA so you can purchase directly. These products aren’t safer, healthier, or more nutritious. The farmer just has chosen a different marketing strategy. Why would one go direct to the farmer? Sometimes it is nice to have that one-on-one relationship with a business. You get to hear the story. You meet the faces behind the products.
My “off the farm” job, that I do from my kitchen table, is selling jewelry, accessories, and skincare products. My customers could walk into a box store and get similar products, but they like the curated looks, customer service, and unique products I have to offer so they decide to do business with me.
Extra steps often mean extra cost. Some farmers don’t have the time or the resources to sell products on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis directly to the customer. That is the camp that our farm falls into. Two times a year we have beef available for purchase. The processing facility and butcher in our area requires that we must first sell the live steer (or a half or quarter of him) to the consumer and then you pay for the processing, cutting, and wrapping of the meat. Again, it isn’t a better or lesser option than direct to consumer or the grocery store, it is simply a different model.
Bottom line, there are lots of great ways to purchase food. Choice is always something I am thankful for. If the choices seem overwhelming, pick the easy route because in this case easy still means great. I wouldn’t want you to be without that amazing hamburger or steak on your plate.
Do you ever wonder where your food comes from? Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of food choices you have to make for your family? The farmers of CommonGround are a resource to educate families about food and farming. Get to know some of the farmers who raise food in your state.
Connect with Commonground Iowa
Crystal Blin is a farmer and CommonGround Iowa volunteer. She loves a good statement earring or bold lipstick. She and her husband raise purebred Hereford cattle near Independence, Iowa. You can follow Crystal on social media @CrystalCattle or listen to her podcast, The Squad Life.