The War on Meat has begun. Every day, new missives come out against meat for its supposed impact on human health, the climate, the environment. Lone Star ticks across the country are triggering red meat allergies, hot new companies are making meat “replacements” out of lab-grown cells, pea protein slurries, and bug pureé. Politicians are talking about meat taxes and respected medical journals are publishing anti-meat research. None of these are good reasons to stop eating meat, nor are they legitimate meat replacements, nor will they successfully get humans to stop eating the food they’ve eaten for millions of years, but part of the fight against these campaigns comes down to you and what kind of meat you purchase and consume.
And in the off chance meat is banned or severely curtailed sometime in the future, they can’t sever a connection between you and a local farmer or another small beef producer. If someone wants to sell a cow to you, and you want to buy that cow, it’s going to be awful hard to stop it. They might be able to exert some control at grocery stores, but they won’t be able to stop a consumer from buying one-on-one from a local producer.
In addition to that, buying from small beef producers means you can get high quality organic, grass-fed animal products at wholesale prices, particularly if you’re willing to buy with friends, neighbors, and family—or have a freezer large enough to handle it yourself.
So, how do you find a small beef producer?
There are several routes to try, none of which are mutually-exclusive. I’m confident that almost everyone reading this can find a small beef producer near them.
Craigslist.org is an online classified service that hasn’t changed in 20+ years for one simple reason: it just plain works. While most people use it to buy used cars or find apartments for rent, you can also use it to score high quality local meat and other animal products. Just choose your region/city/state and do a search.
The list goes on. Search in every region and I bet you’ll find something.
When you find a listing that looks promising, start a conversation. Behind that listing is often an individual, usually the person responsible for raising the animals. Usually the owner. You can get the inside scoop directly from the source on how the animals are raised, fed, and cared for.
My point is not to aim you toward any specific listing. My point is that wherever you are, you can probably find someone selling high quality local beef on Craigslist. The same goes for other meats and animal products like lamb, chicken, backyard eggs, raw milk, even fruit or other produce. Need some good lemons? There’s probably someone with a tree in their backyard who doesn’t need any extra. Want pastured eggs? There’s probably a hobby farmer who has too many to know what to do with them.
Google “[your area] grass fed beef producer.”
This reliably returns results. Just google grass fed beef producers in your local area.
EatWild has been around for 20 years now.
Not only is it a directory of small beef (and other animal food) producers broken down by state, it’s a fully-vetted directory of websites, phone numbers, and email addresses of small meat producers. The staff at EatWild don’t just admit anyone. To make it onto the website, a producer must satisfy certain requirements. If they’re listed on EatWild, you can rest assured that the producer raises, feeds, and treats their animals the right way. You won’t see a “small-time” feedlot producer make it onto Eatwild.
However, you will have to make the phone calls and the emails and peruse the websites to arrange the purchase. Some of the listings may be inaccurate or defunct. But either way, EatWild gives you a great place to start.
These days, every farmer’s market I ever attend has at least one small meat producer in attendance. Usually they’re selling individual cuts, but you can also strike up a conversation and make larger wholesale purchases.
There’s something special and comforting about looking the rancher in the eye, shaking the hand, and knowing exactly where (and whom) your meat comes from.
Visit small butcher shops.
Smaller more personable butcher shops are making a comeback, and many of them offer meat from smaller local producers. This is a great way to obtain local meat from producers raising their animals the right way without having to buy an entire cow. The butchers will usually have a close relationship with the farms and can tell you all about their methods.
Check out this Twitter thread.
A couple days ago, I asked my followers on Twitter to give me their favorite small meat producers. I also asked any producers who were following me to drop their information so other customers could find them. As of the time of my writing this post, I’m up to 130 responses. Go take a look at the thread and scroll down to read all the replies. If there’s anything near you and you want some beef, give them a try!
But really, it’s hard to mess this up. This is easier than ever to do. More and more consumers are interested in buying direct from small beef producers, and more and more small beef producers are interested in selling direct to consumers. Using one or two of the methods linked in this post will almost certainly give you a good lead or five.
If you have any other suggestions, let me know down below in the comment section. If you have a favorite producer, list them down below. If you are a producer of beef or other animal products, drop your info down below (or visit the Twitter thread and mention yourself there).
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, and happy hunting!
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.