What’s a Cow Share and How Can I get Involved?
Caveman Doctor is very excited to celebrate this memorable day. What are we celebrating, you may be asking yourself? Today is the one millionth anniversary of the first time Caveman Doctor bagged a Woolly Mammoth on a hunting trip with his clan. While we are not celebrating killing an animal (vegetarians, if any of you actually read my site, you can relax), we are celebrating the first time Caveman Doctor became an integral member of his small society by contributing to feeding his fellow people and providing them with fur for warmth, bones for weapons, and most importantly, nutrient-dense and healthy meat. Now that Caveman Doc lives in these crazy modern times, the closest thing to those times of providing for his tribe were the Inuit’s whale hunting expeditions during the early 1900s (Caveman Doctor helped steer the boat, he was too cold to swim). Those were crazy times and Caveman Doctor has since settled down quite a bit. However, this got Caveman Doctor thinking: “What happened to the good old days when people combined their efforts to maximize their healthy food gathering abilities?” Caveman Doctor wonders if this can be applied to our modern society in acquiring healthy sources of meat like grass-fed beef.
What’s a Cow Share?
Last week we took a trip to Monterrey, Mexico to learn about the incredible health benefits of grass-fed beef. However, we may be able to get it in our local communities and can leave the travel to Mexico for its beautiful scenery. I have received an unimaginable amount of questions and excitement over this post, including: “Where do I get it?” and “Isn’t it too expensive?” That’s the great part about eating healthy and spending the time to “hunt” and “gather” these healthy foods. It takes a little bit of effort, but does serve to bring us closer to our community and vastly increases our health-based knowledge. Also, if you look at the cost of eating well versus the cost of doctor visits, medications, and being in the hospital for chronic diseases, it is money well spent and in the long run is likely MUCH CHEAPER in the long-term.
There are several options to get grass-fed beef online (especially in the winter), and one sight that lists local farms with grass-fed beef and other grass-fed animals is Eat Wild. However, Caveman Doctor lives in the Philadelphia area, and he is lucky enough to join forces with his fellow Cavemen to share food, much like he did one million years ago to this very day. Here in Philly, we have Philadelphia CowShare. This great organization has taken the process of obtaining grass-fed beef one step further, making it cheaper for farmers and consumers, supporting local businesses and our farmers in the process, and benefiting our environment by providing local sources of food! It also brings us closer to the animals we consume by stressing more ethical treatment of animals (avoiding confinement and many of the other issues posted in my previous article). Megan, at Philadelphia CowShare, was nice enough to tell us a little about the company. While many of the readers of CavemanDoctor live throughout the country, please check and see if your local area has a similar organization. Enjoy the article below!
Greetings from Philadelphia CowShare!
Philly CowShare connects the local community of responsible farmers and butchers, the people who raise and prepare our food, with the urban community of people who want to simply eat well. We sell bundles of grass-fed beef, called CowShares, including cuts from across the cow. Our beef is dry-aged for 2 weeks and is free of hormones and antibiotics. Our cows are raised on healthy pastures within a reasonable drive of Philadelphia.
Sharing the yield from an animal with people you know is an old-fashioned way of buying meat, but until now was not very accessible to people who live in urban communities. Whole animal distribution allows for a transparent and communal buying experience with less waste.
Our shares come in 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and whole cow packages and no matter the size, buying meat in bulk makes this delicious product more affordable than buying beef cut-by-cut at a grocery store or butcher. Let’s face it; it’s not common practice to add up the amount of beef you buy over a year or how much you’ve paid for it. Buying a CowShare puts this information front and center. You pay one flat price for all the cuts and eat it slowly over time. At 2 lbs a week, a 1/8th CowShare will last up to 6 months. Grass-fed beef costs more than conventional grain-fed beef from a feedlot.
Why is Grass-fed Beef More Expensive?
In order to produce healthy grass-fed beef in harmony with the land, cows are raised on pasture where they can graze, fertilize the land and increase the soil health. Grass grows on land and land can cost a lot of money!
In the conventional method, the food is brought to the cows rather than the other way around. Cows are placed in a central feedlot (i.e. CAFO) and cattle feed comprised of corn and soy are shipped in and rationed accordingly to promote rapid weight gain. In a grass-fed system, the grass stays put and the cows are rotated from pasture to pasture eating the tops of the grass stalk where the most energy is stored. Eating just grass and forage takes longer for the cow to gain enough weight for market, 18 – 24 months versus 12 – 15 months in a feedlot. In addition, the number of cows per acre is significantly lower than in a feedlot system. The cost of this land, more time needed to raise cattle and the reduced number of cattle per acre all increases the cost of producing grass-fed beef and therefore final price tag.
How to Make it More Affordable
Philly CowShare’s transparent approach to purchasing beef allows consumers to understand exactly what they are paying for and buying in bulk decreases the overall price of the beef. Our eighth share package is $410 for 43 lbs of dry-aged, grass-fed beef. The bundle includes:
3 Delmonico Steaks, 1 Filet Tenderloin, 2 T-Bone, 1 Porterhouse, 2 Ranch Steaks, 1 Sirloin Steak, 1 London Broil, 1 Rump Roast, 1 Mock Tender, Petite Tender, Tri Tip or Flank Steak, 2 Chuck Roast or 1 Chuck and 1 Brisket, 2 Chipsteaks, 2 Packages Beef Cubes, Ground Beef and Patties
The cost averages out to be around $9.50/lb for all the cuts, less than the cost of many prime cuts at your local grocery store or butcher. For example, the suggested retail price for a grass-fed porterhouse steak — that is dry-aged and free of hormones and antibiotics — is around $18.00, almost 50% above our price.
That price can be discounted further if you organize a “cowshare,” where you and 7 people all come together to share one cow, we pass on a 15% savings. This brings the cost of an eighth share to $348.50, which is $8.10/lb. In addition to savings, you are able to participate in a community centered buying experience and collectively support local agriculture.
Check out our website, www.phillycowshare.com to learn more about our CowShares and how to organize a group. You can also sign-up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter (@PhillyCowShare) to get information about availability and events.
Thanks Meghan for your descriptions on cow shares and thanks all for reading. Please note that Caveman Doctor received no money, incentives, or has any conflict of interests with PhillyCowShare. He just really thinks it’s a great concept and hopes it spreads.
Wherever you are located try to find a local food-share program, or start your own! While it’s not always possible depending on where you live, let’s return to our community-based gathering of healthy, nutrient-dense food like in the days of our caveman ancestors. Doing so promotes a healthy environment, healthy cows, and healthy people, all while helping out farmers who are trying to do the right thing.
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