For over four years now, we’ve been selling beef and pork direct to customers: it’s been a very interesting and rewarding experience. We know for ourselves how nice it is to have a well-stocked freezer of meat – we also realize how small the freezer meat market is and how few people are really interested in taking on such an undertaking… So, Morgan put a bug in my ear to write a blog post about it and perhaps encourage a few more folks to plug in a freezer and bring home half a hog or a quarter of beef.
Why buy freezer meat?
- Convenience – you can just forget about buying meat when you go to the grocer. It’s already in your house, packed and labelled in your deep freeze. Organize it well, and get in the routine of pulling cuts a day in advance. It quickly becomes second nature and part of a more rational, less impulsive approach to food.
- Value – Of course, nothing is cheap nowadays, and we don’t produce “cheap” food – however, you can certainly get a lot more for your dollar filling your freezer than buying individual cuts from the grocer. It’s a tremendous feeling of wealth to know that you’re flush with high-quality meat…
- Custom Butchering – Like to have extra thick steaks? Want a few HUGE roasts for Christmas and Easter? Like to have a lot of stew meat and maybe not so much ground beef? Want smoked ham hocks and lots of Italian sausage? Want some bacon and some pork belly, too? Working directly with the butcher, we can provide you with cuts and options that aren’t easy to find otherwise.
- Nose-to-tail Eating – now if you don’t like the sounds of this, if this is not something you want to try, then buying a side or quarter is not a good idea. If you only like rib steak and t-bones, if you don’t like blade roasts, if you can only eat so much hamburger, then you’ll be much happier at the butcher. However, if you want to eat a bit more traditionally, expand your culinary skill set, and minimize waste, shipping, and packaging, then this is the way to do it.
- To Support Local Food Security and Self-Reliance – not so long ago, of course, our food travelled a lot less than it did now. This meant not only a lot more farms and farmers, but also a lot more abattoirs. For instance, today, over 55% of the beef in Canada is processed by a single American company, Cargill. Buying direct from farmers, and working with local abattoirs like Quinn’s Meats keeps money in our community and works against the trend of increased consolidation and foreign ownership of our food system.
So how does it work exactly?
It’s pretty straightforward, but can be a little intimidating the first time. Here are the steps:
- Get in touch with us as soon as you resolve to do it! We only raise so many hogs and finish so many beeves each season, so sign up and make a deposit. They leave for the butcher in October or November and will be ready before Christmastime.
- Do a bit of research to determine how you’d like your animal processed: getting Larousse’s Gastronomique is a great place to start (check the library or used bookstores), do some online sleuthing or just give us a call and we’ll do our best to guide you. Also make up your mind if you want a “big” animal or a “little” one (they’ll vary in size, so if you’re on a budget, have limited space, or have a lot of mouths to feed, we can help accommodate that).
- When we send the animals, we’ll forward your butchering requests, or if you’d prefer, you can relate them directly to the butcher. Once the animals are killed and cleaned, they’re weighed: this is the “hanging weight” and what our pricing is based off of. This is also a good time to either buy a freezer or clean and re-organize the one you already use.
- After about 2-4 weeks, your meat will be finally cut, wrapped and frozen, ready for your freezer. At this point, we’ll have all of the information from the butcher: not only the hanging weight, but also the kill fee, butchering fees and any additional expenses like smoking or sausages. We email you your invoice, and let you know when we’ll be bringing the meat home. We generally do this on Saturdays.
- If you’re roughly en route, we can drop the meat off at your home directly, otherwise, you can meet us at our home. We usually do not have the additional freezer space at home to hold onto your meat very long: if it’s cold outside we might get by for a few days in our garage, but really recommend that if you can’t make it yourself, to send a friend or relative (who you can bribe with meat!).