Factory farmed meat may be the easiest on the wallet, but it isn’t always the easiest on the taste buds, or on the stomach.
When purchasing locally sourced meat, the consumer is ensured fresh, hormone free, meat, that was raised ethically. Whereas factory farmed meat comes with a lot of mystery around how it was raised, what it was fed, and the quality control.
“For local purchase of anything, you can be assured as to the quality and consistency of the product you are getting,” said Vanessa Beach, owner of a local cattle farm.
All of Ms. Beach’s cattle are grass fed and her herd is the only one in Uxbridge consisting of pure bred Galloway. Galloway is a Scottish breed, with a low-fat content, due to its undercoat having thick beaver-like fur. Because the breed requires less fat to stay warm, they can flourish off a grass diet, as opposed to grains.
Grass fed beef is a much leaner cut of meat than grain-fed beef, but it still retains the same great taste.
“The advantage to the consumer is you still get a very flavourful meat, that is actually marbled, but has a fat content closer to that of chicken or fish,” Ms. Beach said.
The meat is also more nutritious, having a lot more vitamins and minerals than grain fed beef.
“It is much higher in unsaturated fats, omega three’s and omega six’s,” said Ms. Beach. The cattle on her farm are also raised naturally, without any additives or growth hormones. “We don’t use G.M.O., we don’t use hormones. We don’t do anything but allow our cattle to be cattle and live in their family herd as long as possible.”
She tries to provide the highest quality of life for her herd, and keep them as happy as she can.
“Our cattle run around 100 acres and [get to] be cows. They’re a free-range herd. They are only ever brought into the barn if they're sick,” Ms. Beach said.
When it is time for the cattle to go the slaughterhouse, Ms. Beach tries to make it as easy as possible for the animals.
“We employ the buddy system so when we do send them for their bad day, they at least have their best friend with them,” said Ms. Beach. “We also have an agreement with the abattoir we use, that our animals are processed in no more than 45 minutes once arrived, in order to insure the decrease in stress level.”
Decreasing the animals stress and discomfort isn’t just more humane, it actually effects the quality of the meat. When an unstressed animal dies, its muscle glycogen is converted into lactic acid, which helps keep the meat pink, tender, and full of flavour. When an animal dies while stressed, the adrenaline released uses up glycogen, leaving little lactic acid to be produced post-mortem. This effects meat in a variety of ways, but generally causes the beef to be tough, tasteless, and high in PH.
When buying locally sourced meat, consumers can rest assured they are getting what they pay for. A more ethical, natural, and sustainable approach to cattle farming, which tastes twice as good.