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Meat price/quality compromise

(m)eat to live

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When deciding what meat to buy, I feel like I am always having to compromise price and quality, which is frustrating. Sadly, I can't afford to buy only pastured organic meat and meet the demands of my family. I generally buy conventional beef from the supermarket, "organic" (but not free-range) chicken from the supermarket, and ethically raised-in-the-woods pork from a local farmer that I really like and trust. I try to stick to wild-caught seafood and avoid all the farmed stuff.


But is that sensible? Should I be buying only organic fatty cuts, regardless of the animal, and feel okay buying lean, conventional meats? Which meats would you consider the worst-bet in conventional, and which is the safest-bet?


I wish there was a list of suggestions on the meats where a compromise is okay and the ones where it's best to spring for quality - from a nutritional standpoint mostly. Kind of like a dirty dozen/clean fifteen list for animals.


What guidelines do you use when deciding to buy organic/grassfed or conventional?


Thanks!  :)

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I think you're doing the best thing that you can do, which is feeding your family and providing the highest quality ingredients that you can afford. I wouldn't be concerned about buying organic chicken and you're spending your money wisely by purchasing your pork from a local farmer. 


If you have ISWF I'm pretty sure it goes into this issue rather in depth. Here's a snippet from one of the articles online: 


"If you simply can't afford “best choice†meat, then follow this strategy. First, stick to meat from ruminants (beef, lamb, elk, bison/buffalo, goat or venison), as they tend to have access to their natural diets for at least a portion of their lives, and have a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than either chicken or pork.  Second, buy the leanest cuts available, and trim or drain all visible fat before eating.  Our main concern with lower quality meat comes from the unhealthy things (antibiotics, hormones, environmental toxins and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) that “live†in the fat content.  Omit most of the fat and you mitigate some of those concerns.  Third, consume chicken only without the skin, for the same reason.  And finally, avoid ALL pork products, as commercially raised pork has the worst N6:N3 ratio of any animal protein source.  (And yes, that means no bacon.  Since when is bacon health food, anyway?)" 



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That sounds like a good way to start.  Personally, I prefer smaller portions of good meat vs. larger of not-as-good meat as a way to stretch your dollar.


Ask your local pig farmer if he knows somewhere you can get some locally raised beef in bulk.  He probably will.  You have to pay upfront, but overall, you can get the meat cheaper than grassfed or organic store bought meat.  Plus you can talk to the person that raised it and find out what they did to the animal before processing (antibiotics, type of feed etc.)


I'm not organic certified, but I try to follow the organic rules, in addition to only feeding grass.  I don't bother trying to be certified organic because my volume doesn't really justify the added expense and work to get the certification and deal with inspections.  I tell people they can come look at my steers to see how they are raised and verify their health.  If you are buying from a similar farmer, they will probably be open to a visit as well.

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