Local meat producers value quality. Their reputation for good meat is on the line when they sell to the public. Purchasing locally grown meat is not only beneficial for the local rancher or farmer, it is good for the local economy and it is good for the local environment. Meat producers that engage in sustainable grazing practices help carbon get pulled from the atmosphere and stored in the soil, thereby improving soil quality.
Purchasing meat right from the farm or ranch often means it must be processed at a local butcher shop. Most local butcher or meat shops sell meat that is locally sourced. Meats processed at a local meat shop must meet USDA and state requirements. Labels such as “local,” “grass-fed,” or “organic” must have government approval. The ND Department of Agriculture keeps a list of local butcher shops and processing centers on its website.
Meat sold at supermarket chains and big box stores typically comes from animals raised in large feedlots and factory farms. Some meat actually travels from foreign countries before showing up in the local grocery store coolers.
Locally produced meat is almost always fresher than meat from anywhere else, which means it has more flavor. Pasture raised chicken, beef, pork, and other meat contain a far higher level of vital omega-3 fatty acids than meat from animals raised in feedlots. Omega-3s help protect heart cells and other systems in the body from developing stresses that can lead to such conditions as an irregular heart beats or high blood pressure. Pasture raised meat also has a lower amount of fat overall, compared with feedlot raised animals. Thus it is lower in calories.
When consumers buy from the rancher, they typically get high quality, safe food. The rancher, in turn, is able to invest in the local community.