What does it mean to “Buy Local Meat?”

A New Hampshire farmer’s thoughtful take on the demand for local meat, by Carole Soule at Miles Smith Farm. From New Hampshire Farms Network:

So you want to “Buy Local” and support a New Hampshire farmer? You already search out locally raised meat and buy vegetables at the farmers’ market.  You are a hero in the war on “away” food. But did you know that the battle is just starting?

Two weeks ago I got a request to provide 8,000 lbs of flank steak a year to a local food distributor. Wow, you might say, that is a great order and will help Miles Smith Farm finally make a profit in 2013. But the fact is, if I filled that order my farm would go out of business.  Each beef critter yields, at most, 4 lbs of flank steak. I would need to process 2,000 animals to provide flank steak to fill this order. Factory farms that process 10,000 or more animals a day could easily fill this order. Miles Smith Farm processes about 130 animals a YEAR.  So even, if I could process 2,000 animals I would be stuck with thousands of pounds of the “other cuts,” the ground beef, roasts, steaks and suet after the flank steaks are gone. Do you now see how an order for 8,000 pounds of flank steak would be the death of my farm? Read more…

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