Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We're Eating Only Grass-Fed Meats These Days...and They're Getting Easier to Find

Because I live in the Sierra Nevada mountains, my local Farmer's Market is only open June through September.  We have a vendor at our market who raises grass-fed beef about an hour north of us. It's delicious, but expensive.  Even so, I feel it's worth it, during the months that I can get it.

Thompson Valley Ranch, my Farmer's Market source for grass-fed beef.

The rest of the year, it's been a struggle to obtain grass-fed meats.  Until recently I had to drive an hour to get to a Whole Foods, Costco or Trader Joe's which were the only supermarkets anywhere near me carrying organic or grass-fed meats.

Now, however, my local supermarket chain-store, Safeway, has a nice little section of both organic and grass-fed meats and poultry in their Open Nature brand.  And by the way, I find the pricing very reasonable.  I spoke to the butcher recently and he had good news to report.  It's selling through, which means they will keep offering it.  Raley's is another regional market chain which is offering similar choices. Hopefully your local market is starting to make a small selection available to you, too.  If not, talk to the store supervisor and let him/her know you'd buy it if they offered it.

This happy cow lives in Sonoma County.  Wouldn't it be fabulous if all the cows in the US could live a life this good?  
Now, I would prefer to eat local food, and I'm fully aware that the Safeway grass-fed beef is mostly not even from the US.  However, until a more local supply becomes available, I'm just grateful to have this.  If I had more storage, I would definitely consider purchasing a deep-freezer so that I could buy part of a pasture-raised cow and freeze it, but for now I don't.

If you live near a city and are able to get to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or Costco, then you have plenty of options available to you.  The Whole Foods butcher section has probably the largest range of choice in pastured meats, but it may also be the most expensive.  This is a great go-to, however, especially when you want unusual cuts or specialty meats for entertaining.

Trader Joe's has a wonderful grass-fed ground beef in their frozen section that tastes delicious and is reasonably priced and they also carry free-range organic chicken.

Costco, always on the beat of what America wants, is offering more and more organic foods. They have organic ground beef and bison as well as many choices for organic chicken.   They also have lots of tasty organic sausages, hot dogs and lunch meats, as well as a nice selection of wild caught seafood. So far Costco does not seem to be selling grass-fed meats, but they're definitely moving in the right direction. It's up to us, their customers, to let them know we like this, but we want even more and as much pasture-raised as possible.

Just in case you'd like to find a local source for grass-fed beef, I've pasted in below a section from an article at Mercola.com which lists resources for finding regional pastured and organic meats and poultry.
"Organic, grass-fed and finished meat is really the only type of meat that is healthy to eat, in my view. Fortunately, many grocery chains are now responding to customer demand, and will provide at least a small assortment of grass-fed meats. The least expensive way to obtain grass-fed beef and other locally produced organic foods is from your local farmer. The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
  • Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  • Eat Wild: With more than 1,400 pasture-based farms, Eat Wild's Directory of Farms is one of the most comprehensive sources for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada.
  • Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  • FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you."

Gorgeous Thompson Valley Ranch, located in the Northern Sierras, where my Farmer's Market cows are raised in pasture.  


  1. The issue I have found, at least for me, is that TJ and Costco products are not from the USA. They are packaged here but are raised in other countries. I prefer to still shop local and buy less if the price is higher. I think it is very important to know where the product in question is produced so we have the ability to purchase or decline it .

  2. Lorraine LewandrowskiDecember 21, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Interesting how US consumers kept their backs turned towards livestock farmers for decades even as farmers came under great pressure, hundreds of thousands of ranches and farms gone . Local slaughterhouses and food infrastructure gone making it super hard to get out of commodity food systems for many farmers and ranchers. I have been in DC numerous times and met consumer groups who fought for cheap food. Eat your imported grassfed now and congratulate yourself on how virtuous you are . Unfortunately concepts of farmer justice are nowhere to be found in the contemporary food movement . Eat up!

    1. You have a great point and you're absolutely right. I wish I had known better when the small family ranchers needed me and the rest of American to support them.