If you already turn to your neighborhood farmers market for greens and other produce, then you probably already know the benefits of bypassing big agribusiness and supermarkets in favor of independently produced food.
Chances are, you pick up a few vegetables, fruits, flowers and maybe breads at the market each week, but you may not have tried farmers market meats and poultry.
Though they are typically more expensive than grocery-store options, farmers market meats are often tastier, healthier and better for the environment than traditional options. Local farms are also more likely to adhere to ethical practices of raising and farming animals than large factory farms, which are largely concerned with cost and efficiency.
Reaching for organic, local poultry, steak, pork, lamb, fish and even eggs can make a difference to your health and can significantly lighten your impact on the environment and the world in which you live.
Farmers Market Meats: Safer and Healthier for Everyone
Much of the non-organic meat found in grocery store chains come from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
In order to maximize the volume of meat they produce, these giant animal processing operations may cut corners in ways that have damaging effects on animal and human health. Animals in densely packed feedlots are prone to stress, poor sanitation and disease, and as a result they may be routinely dosed with antibiotics that eventually make their way onto the dinner table.
These animals are fed, as well as medicated, in ways that lead to the fastest growth by the least expensive means. This means these animals are often raised with the aid of pesticides, stress hormones, synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria that don’t disappear when after they die.
A pale portion of this, artificially reddened, carried across thousands of miles by refrigerated trucks burning fossil fuels and displayed under the dreary florescent light of giant grocery store chain seems like nothing short of a crime against nature.
This is particularly true when a farm just a mile away can offer thick, juicy, grass-fed meat, hand raised in healthy, clean and comfortable conditions.
Of course, there are two sides to this debate. Large animal farms are subject to regulation and regular inspection by the U.S. government to ensure they are producing products that are safe for consumption. These farms are able to produce, preserve and distribute affordable meats and poultry around the country, making these foods accessible to millions of Americans who could not otherwise afford to feed their families with locally grown, organic products.
The health risks of consuming non-organic, factory-raised meat are still being studied; however, increasingly more Americans are deciding to make the shift to locally raised animal products to help mitigate the potential risks.
Imagine a deep red slab of organic steak or smoked local poultry, freshly butchered and wrapped in brown paper on a sunny Saturday. Imagine accepting this paper-wrapped meat from the hands of the farmer who raised this animal from birth. Now compare that to a typical grocery store offering. Which would you rather feed to your family?
Farmers Market Meats: Tastier
Now imagine you’re a chef at a world-class restaurant. Your livelihood depends on the experience you provide to your guests. They’re willing to pay, but in exchange, they want a culinary experience they won’t soon forget. They want something healthy, appealing and truly delicious.
The pale, chemical-laden slab of industrial meat has served its purpose: It helped a chain of producers cut their costs and maximize their profits. But now what? Have these cost cutting, high efficiency production methods provided anything of value to you or your guests? If your reputation depended on flavor alone, which meat would you rather serve?