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Why Buy Grass Fed Beef?


Is Eating Local Always Best?

Consuming only foods that have been grown close to your home has become a popular way to try and improve nutrition, reduce the world’s carbon emissions, and try to support the local economy. However, where a food is grown is only one of a dozen critical factors that need to be taken into account; and if you purchase your food based exclusively on how many miles away it was grown, you may actually end up making a worse decision.

Organic and Quality Still Matter

Everything is local to somebody; bad food is no exception.

Local farms, buying in your own backyard, all of these descriptions inspire images of an all natural small farmer, supporting his or her family by raising modest amounts of the very best products, and selling them in good faith from one neighbor to another. However, the “local” label in no way guarantees this. In fact, the government doesn’t even recognize a local label; it’s left up to the individual producers and marketers to determine what it means.

Furthermore, depending on where exactly you live, you’re probably more likely to live by grain-fed feedlots and pesticide heavy mono-cultures than grass-fed cattle ranches and organic, non-GMO farms. Farms that use these cheap and slightly toxic techniques are called conventional for a reason. In order to make sure that your products are of the highest quality, local or otherwise, you still need to check for the official, government certified labels.

Variety is Vital

Whole Foods generally defines local as being within 200 miles, while many go-local aficionados have an even stricter definition. This may work pretty well for states like California, famous for their agricultural variety and expansive seashore, but what about states which are mostly desert? What do people in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, or Colorado do when they want to improve their Omega-3 levels? For a lot of people in America, there aren’t even any beaches within 200 miles, let alone reliable sources of quality wild-caught seafood. Despite the many and varied advantages of natural, wild-caught salmon, and the terrible nutritional deficits and ecological destruction caused by fish farms, I can’t see many local food fanatics moving to Alaska.

If you are lucky enough to live near a great farmer’s market that reliably offers all the grass fed beef, organic chicken and wild caught seafood you want every week, you are in the minority! Most of us either don’t live near a reliable local source for the healthy foods we need to feed our families or don’t have the inclination to drive to a farmer’s market only to be disappointed when they don’t have the items we need.

Carbon Footprints Don’t Always Come From Cars

A recent study found that it would actually be more environmentally friendly for people in the UK to import certain foods all the way from New Zealand than to grow it locally. How? Why? Well, it’s important to keep in mind that the transportation of the food isn’t the only thing about agriculture that can have an impact on the environment; New Zealand’s production methods were simply that much better at conserving energy.

Which do you think would waste more energy: transporting a crop’s worth of tomatoes from a warmer climate, or using a massive, heated greenhouse to artificially create a warmer climate for three to six months over the winter? Even if your chicken is local, do you know if the chicken feed is? It takes at least 3 pounds of feed to raise a pound of chicken, so if the feed comes from the Midwest, wouldn’t it make more sense to raise the chickens near the source of their feed and transport the final product than to grow it “locally”?

I’d like to finish this off by trying to clarify the economic thinking of the shop local movement. Buy things that come from your own state, because the honest, hard-working people who live next to you deserve your money way more than honest, hard-working people in the next state over. Or the honest, hard-working people from other countries.

Buying local is a great concept when it works, however, we should recognize that not everything can or should be raised locally.

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