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Buying the Whole Cow

Only crazy people buy a whole cow at one time. The people who raise a pig and then slaughter it, resulting in 231 pounds of pork (18 pounds of pork belly included for bacon) are a little touched in the head. That’s something they used to do in the “good ole days” when people kept stuff in the cellar and meat in the smokehouse. Those might have been the “good ole days,” but those same people used the outhouse and used the Sears and Roebuck catalog for its utility, as well as shopping. Sorry, but this is America. This is 2013. I can get my meat weekly at the store, so why in the world would I want 231 pounds of it all at one time? Lame-o, right?

Cows on Meadow

Hello – my name is Stacy…I’m old fashioned. I buy whole pigs and 50 pounds of sucanat at one time. There are two main reasons for this:

1. I like being prepared and hate shopping for meat.

2. I save a whole bunch of money.

But really, shopping for meat makes me want to get a lobotomy. Have you seen organic meat prices? Or even REGULAR meat prices? It’s like it’s a brick of gold wrapped in shrink wrap. I stand at the counter and breathe deeply to avoid having a panic attack. There is a reason most people just settle for the hot dogs. It feels nicer on the pocketbook.

Here is an example – I live near my parents farm. My Uncle Bob (bless him) raised a pig for us this year. We paid $100 for the pig and around $180 for all the feed. Then we paid $157 for a friend to do all the processing and cutting for us, including making sausage (I made the bacon myself). Total pig cost = $437. That comes out to about $1.89/lb. That’s for sausage, ribs, chops, etc. Can you really beat that?


But even if you don’t have an Uncle Bob or family farm, you can score a whole pig or cow from a local farmer. Most farmers offer a discount of sorts by purchasing a whole animal at once. One local farmer I talked to charges $1.25/lb. (plus processing) for pork if you purchase the whole pig…but if you buy their cheapest cut, it’s $3/lb. From looking around online, it seems that you will pay around $4/lb. for beef cuts…which is way cheaper than what I see at the Farmer’s Market (most ground beef is $5/lb.).

Get to know your local farmers at the Market or use to find one. Talk to them and see how you can get the best price. Ask around – get advice – see what other people are doing.


Now, let’s get real for a minute. Can you get cheaper meat at the grocery store? Yes – you can, sometimes. You can find discounted meat and bring it home to freeze. However, for the most part, the quality of meat from a local farmer is going to be better. You’re also supporting the local economy – which is a huge deal to me.

Hold the train – I realize that a good deal of people cannot afford to buy a whole cow at once…or organic meat from the grocery store. They’re living paycheck to paycheck and are barely making it. As always, I’m going to tell you to buy what your budget affords. Organic meat isn’t worth going in to debt. After being married over 10 years, Barry and I are JUST NOW starting to think about organic meats and vegetables…and not affording very many of them. If the discounted regular meat is what you can buy now, great. Buy it. But, you should also be learning and gaining knowledge so one day you CAN afford to buy a whole pig/cow at one time.

Coming up next month: HOW to afford that whole pig/cow. It can be done and I’ll tell you how.

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