With warmer temperatures on the horizon, it’s time get your grilling plans in order. There are tons of food you can throw on the grill this summer, including veggies, burgers, hot dogs and chicken. But when it comes to picking out your meats, it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start, including how much to buy and where to buy from.
One solution is to sign up for a meat subscription box service, which offers smaller portions, sustainable solutions and no-contact delivery. The services also provide a guaranteed volume of meat: You know exactly what you’ll be getting each month.
You’ll also support smaller farmers and producers rather than industrial farming.
“We don’t work with the industrial system, which is focused on high scale and efficiency that is achieved by packing labor tightly together in an industrial assembly line fashion,” said Joe Heitzeberg, co-founder and CEO of Crowd Cow, a craft meat subscription service. “Our processors are small operations, cutting by hand in accordance [with] artisanal traditions.”
Most subscription boxes provide less meat than the average daily meat consumption in the U.S. The USDA recommends a daily serving of no more than 5.5 ounces of meat per day but concluded in 2018 that Americans eat twice that.
“Protein is important in our diet, but only in small quantities,” said Rob Levitt, head butcher and chef de cuisine of Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats, which prides itself on sourcing and sustainability. “Three to four ounces is plenty.”
The advantage, he adds, is that eating less meat will reduce the need for mass production. “If we could lessen the need for factory-farming and mass-processing, the impact on the environment would be tremendous.”
Right now, there are distinct advantages to knowing exactly how your meat is sourced.
“When you think about the outbreaks the industry is experiencing, it’s about the processing plants much more than it is about the farmers,” said ButcherBox founder and CEO Mike Salguero. “Because of the sheer volume of product being processed through these facilities on a daily basis, the number of employees that need to be in the facility is pretty significant.”
“Transparency makes you feel safer and informed,” Levitt added. “Buying meat from somewhere that sources carefully means they are also willing to answer all these questions and are trying to sell you meat that was raised in a way that is best for the animal, the farmer, and the consumer.”
So should you take the plunge?
“The best advice I can give is to find a butcher and talk to them. Ask where the meat comes from, and how it’s raised. Be willing to buy different, less common cuts, and ask them the best ways to prepare them,” Levitt advised. “But wherever you buy your meat, spend your money on meat that was raised well and treated well, and support a small business and farm.”
Here are some subscription boxes that offer well-raised, well-treated meat, much of it sourced from small farms.
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