My family has been very blessed over the years to receive beef as a Christmas present from my parents. For the last 6 or 7 years, they have given us 1/2 a beef processed the way we want and it has been so wonderful. This past year, due to the economy, they weren't able to give us a 1/2 but did give us 75 pounds of ground beef. This, too, is much appreciated and helps our budget tremendously.
The downside of this is that we are almost out of ground beef. We've been systematically cutting back on other cuts of beef because we would have to get them from the grocery store, but we rely on ground beef heavily. So, we made the decision to purchase a large quantity ourselves. On Sunday afternoon, we will be picking up 50 pounds at the meat locker where my parents purchase their meat.
There are some concessions here. I don't personally know the farmer that raised the cattle. Typically we have gotten one of Dad's so I know where it's been, but I know the farmer is local to the area (spanning a couple counties, but not from a big cattle lot). I am sure that this beef has been finished on corn, most certainly GMO corn at that. I am adamantly opposed to genetically modified foods, so this is a huge conundrum.
In an ideal world, I would meet a farmer with reasonably priced grass-fed beef and find a reputable local butcher to process the meat for me and I'd be all set. Since the world isn't ideal, I've got two financially feasible options: 1. go buy ground beef at Wal-Mart (or another big box type grocer). Of course, I know that my family pack of ground beef came from several cattle that have been completely corn fed their whole lives and lived many of their days in a lot with thousands of other cattle-many of whom have been shot full of antibiotics to keep them alive during their many trips to various lots since their birth (many trips across several states). The meat in my package has been doused with a "safe" ammonia wash to kill E-coli or other harmful bacteria and perhaps dyed red to make sure it looks pretty in the store display. Yum! Makes ya wanna go grab a big burger doesn't it?
Option 2 is to purchase meat from a processing plant that I've personally been to and see that it is clean and well maintained. The meat will come from a local farmer whose cattle are on pasture but whose diet is supplemented with corn and other grains. Antibiotics have probably been administered if the animal was ill, but not as part of routine care. My ground beef will come from one animal, since the locker only processes one at a time and they will not process the meat if it looks questionable (that keeps the unscrupulous from bringing in animals on their deathbed to be processed so they can get some money out of them). Since there is only one animal on the machines at a time, there is no need to "wash" my meat or dye it as they are freezing it immediately (it looks red because it is fresh!).
I suppose there is a third option of foregoing beef altogether, but I think Hubby has given up enough for this project. No beef might just send him over the edge! LOL
So, I'm back at option 2 and I'm ok with it. It isn't the ideal, but not much in my life is!