Locally raised meat is fantastic; it tastes great, it's produced without destroying the environment or threatening public health, and its sale supports responsible farmers who choose to use sound agricultural practices. Unfortunately, it's more expensive to raise animals sustainably than to mass-produce them on a factory farm. Industrial operations benefit from hefty government subsidies — and they don't have to pay for the damage they cause. As a result, sustainably raised meat usually costs more than the cheap meat churned out by factory farms.
But don't be discouraged; you and your family can still enjoy locally purchased meat by choosing quality over quantity, even if you're on a tight budget. Why not experiment? One week, take the money you would have spent on meat, and use it to buy a smaller amount of sustainably raised meat at your local farmers' market, food coop or health food store. While you will eat less meat that week, you may find that you don't miss the factory farmed stuff one bit when you taste the delicious, sustainable alternative. And, with Canadians, on average, eating twice as much meat as is recommended for a healthy diet, eating less meat of higher quality may be just what the doctor ordered.
Let's look at some of the benefits of local meat as opposed to the mass produced international industries:
Locally raised meats have a wide range of nutritional benefits. Compared to factory farmed meat, local meat from animals raised on pasture contains less fat, fewer calories, and higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta carotene, and other important nutrients.
As an added benefit, locally raised meat is produced without the use of growth hormones, nontherapeutic antibiotics, or unsavory feed additives that undermine public health. And of course, unlike factory farms, sustainable farms don't sicken workers and neighbors by spewing harmful pollutants into the environment.
Purchasing locally raised meat helps support farmers who raise livestock responsibly. Given the dramatic shift towards industrial megafarms and the get-big-or-get-out philosophy of agriculture, it's more important than ever to support the small family farms that continue to raise fresh, nutritious meat and produce using sustainable agricultural practices in Canada.
Family farms also play a vital role in rural areas, stimulating local economies, strengthening community ties, and protecting natural resources for future generations.
Factory farms have devastating impacts on the environment, continuously polluting air, surface water, groundwater, and soil with a host of hazardous emissions that contaminate our environment.
Fortunately, sustainable farms recognize the importance of environmental stewardship, and use responsible agricultural practices to protect the environment for future generations. When you buy meat from a local farm, you help support these efforts to keep our land clean.