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How to Buy Meat, Dairy, and Eggs From Local Farmers (And Why You Want To)

May 18, 2012

photograph of meat and dairy from a local farmer

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,

  1. 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. 
  2. 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?
  3. You support small industry
    I like shaking my farmer’s hand and knowing that I’m helping her business succeed.
  4. 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?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2012 4:00 pm

    ummmmm… chicken feet? what does one do with chicken feet?

    But to answer the question: there is nothing like the taste of fresh produce made the old fashioned way. Can’t remember the last time I bought a super-market tomato. They taste like cardboard. Same goes for everything else.

    • May 18, 2012 8:03 pm

      She told me that the person who wanted it fed it to her dogs but I think it would make good chicken stock,….IF you could get the feet clean

  2. May 19, 2012 11:14 am

    …thank you Beth Goldberg Rankin! This is why we do everything we can to bring West Virginia’s best home grown, organic foods to our table at the Inn. Our Cafe Cimino Country Inn guests have grown to love the freshness and flavor that only come from locally sourced foods. Chefs Tim & Eli try to let the wonderful food be the star and subscribe to the “less is more” philosophy when preparing these items for our guests. Right now we are serving incredible sugar snaps peas, baby carrots, sweet asparagus, brocolli, herbs and lettuces, rainbow trout, eggs and sausage, shiitakes and ramps; all from local farmers and growers and foragers…that makes for happy guests 🙂

    • May 19, 2012 8:18 pm

      You are killing me, Melody…I promise we WILL get there again soon! LOL

  3. May 22, 2012 3:56 pm

    There’s a big difference in taste between the organically/biologically raised meat and poultry as well as fruits and vegetables to the commercially raised ones. I remember those days of old when the common meat to find where those biologically raised ones. The balance has shifted and it is sad, all because of price where as consumers, we want to pay less. 😉

    • May 22, 2012 7:47 pm

      Well, in a way I feel a tiny bit better that the US is not the only place that has this issue. I think the agricultural advances were in the hope of producing more food in order to feed the world’s hungry, but now we have lots of food with diminished nutrition and suspect chemicals. It will take us a while to convince people to make the switch, for thier own health, even if it does cost more.

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