How to Buy Meat, Dairy, and Eggs From Local Farmers (And Why You Want To)
Most of us enjoy going to farmers markets to buy produce and fresh flowers during the summer months. And, if you’re lucky enough to live near a good farmer’s market that features naturally raised beef, lamb, and chicken, well, that’s even better!
But even if you’re roving farmers markets with cloth bags every weekend, most folks still rely on traditional grocery stores for the bulk of their meat and poultry needs.
I’m convinced there’s a better way. And I’m pretty sure that, with a little internet sleuthing, most of you can do the same.
Here’s how to find local farm goodies – and why you’d want to.
How to find farmers near you
The thought of a farmer in overalls tapping away on a laptop makes me chuckle, but you’d be surprised how many farms have web sites and email lists. Google “grass fed beef” and the name of your city or state and see what comes up.
There are also a slew of natural food lovers who’ve created sites and search engines to connect us with local farmers.
- WVFarm2u is the website presented by the Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia. Farms, markets and restaurants have joined to be part of the statewide effort to enhance the economic health of small farms in the state. Here you can sort by county to identify nearby sources.
- West Virginia Department of Agriculture provides a listing of producers who have registered to be included.
- Real Milk is a Weston A. Price campaign that advocates raw milk products for better health and well-being. Their search page will help you find raw milk sources near you.
- Eat Wild is a site that connects people to safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.
- Use LocalHarvest to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.
- The Eat Well Guide will help you find local, sustainable, organic farmers, bakers, butchers, wholesalers, and more. All near you.
Most farmers schedule drop offs in their county and some deliver to a drop off in other counties nearby.
Alternatively, you may be able to pick up your goods directly from the farm.
Reasons to buy direct from farmers
Once you enjoy the freshness and quality of meat, poultry, eggs, and raw dairy from a local farmer, you’ll never go back to your local grocery store. Even the mighty Whole Foods pales in comparison, so forget that drive to Ohio, Pittsburgh, Kentucky or North Carolina to the closest stores.
Did you know that eggs in the grocery store can be six months old? Compare that to local farm eggs, at most 1 week old.
If that’s not convincing enough, consider that, with most local farmers,
- Your food will be humanely raised and processed
No factory farming or horrendous conditions for the animals. The farmers I buy from let their animals roam free in their natural environments.
- Your food will be free of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and other toxic chemicals
You can find farmers that let their cows graze on grass, producing meat that is lower in fat and high in CLA’s which are good for us. Unfortunately, most conventional beef is corn-fed, leaving the animals in a sickened and less nutritionally dense state. In the USA we pride ourselves on high-tech farming, but at what price?
- You support small industry
I like shaking my farmer’s hand and knowing that I’m helping her business succeed.
- You can get unique products
During a farm visit yesterday I heard how the farmer is able to sell chicken feet to a customer!
How about you? Do you buy directly from local farmers? Have you noticed a difference in the quality, taste, and your own health? What are your favorite products?