We recently took our first foray into the world of buying meat in bulk directly from the farmer/butcher. One of my friends on Facebook mentioned that he had purchased a hog from a local farm, and that the meat was great. I got the details from him and contacted the farmer on Facebook. They explained the process (which, simply, is you send them a check, tell them where you want the hog butchered, and they drop it off there within a week or so) and sent me an article to help fill in the details. Tired of paying $9 for bacon at the Farmer’s Market, we decided to take the plunge, splitting the risk by splitting the hog with a friend.
The cost of the whole hog (non-confinement, no antibiotics, varied diet, humanely treated, etc.) was $350. We got 145 lbs of meat from it, and the cost of processing (including offal charge, smoking, sausage, brats, lard) was $159.90. So the meat cost $3.52 per pound, on average. And it is DEEELICIOUS! So far we have tried the ground pork, bacon, brats, and pork chops, and it has all been good. Our friend who bought the other half said the ribs are fantastic. We have yet to try the smoked ham hocks, lard, hams, ham steaks, and pork loin.
We did have to buy a freezer to hold the meat, however. We opted for an upright freezer, based on recommendations from friends. Also, we thought it would be easier to not lose meat deep in the depths. The freezer was around $430, but that’s a one-time expense that will enable us to take advantage of more bulk meat purchases. We are considering buying 1/2 a cow and possibly a lamb.
If we had to do it again, what would we do differently? I would ask more questions about the processing. The offal processing cost $29, which seems expensive for heart, tongue, and liver. I know that organ meats are super good for you, but I can purchase those at the Farmer’s Market for much less. Also, I wish we would have gotten the pork belly. I’ve ran across 2 recipes on http://www.marksdailyapple.com that sound fantastic. My friend who told me about the farm also recommended getting the pork jowls smoked, but I forgot to ask for that. Next year I’ll get my act together 🙂
In the meantime we will be enjoying delicious, locally raised, non-factory farm, inexpensive meat. Just pray that the power doesn’t go out for an extended period!