Growing up in a family that hunts and fishes, we understand the importance of having a freezer full of food. My dad would get us an elk or a deer almost every year and he was always hauling home the fish he’d caught from spending many of his weekends out on his boat. But everyone’s favorite was when he’d buy a side of beef once a year from his buddy in the Midwest and have it shipped out here to Arizona. We had two freezers full of meat/fish at all times. I remember the convenience of just walking to the freezer to get that week’s meat out and put it in the fridge so it was ready when we needed it. Now, as an adult, I still keep a freezer stocked full of protein. One of the many perks of raising our own beef is that we always have a stock of our favorite red meat on hand. Did you know that with a cattle farm right down the road, you can take advantage of that too?
I was thinking a few days ago about how many of my hunting and fishing friends have sort of ‘written off’ the idea of buying a side of beef because, well… they’d rather go get their meat the old fashioned way… with a rifle and a tag. But what happens when, for any number of reasons… that doesn’t go as planned? Is it wise to sit with an empty freezer knowing that our food chain is more fragile than many of us would like to admit, when there’s plenty of beef being raised literally… right down the road from your house? I decided to address this on behalf of my family and friends and all the other home-steading types I know. This one goes out to you.
Is buying a side of beef a good backup plan to have in case you don’t get drawn? Or you get skunked? Or in case last year’s prize that you’ve stocked away dwindles down to an uncomfortable level? You bet it is.
Our world seemed to be getting smaller before things changed so dramatically last March. It made many of us realize how vulnerable national & global supply chains really are, and the importance of knowing our neighbors and nearby farmers returned to the forefront. The ‘beef shortage’ last spring really wasn’t a shortage of beef. It was a logistical problem with plenty of meat to harvest, but not enough people to harvest it. Not enough facilities remained open to process enough meat to meet the national demand. And for quite awhile last year, grocery store cold cases and freezers sat empty. It was a very harsh reminder of how dependent we are on far away, corporate food sources. And it could happen again.
There’s a better solution than waiting for your next draw and betting against another failure in the food supply chain: Find a beef rancher in your area. Call them – or at least know who you CAN call if you need them. Best case scenario, go ahead and arrange to purchase that side of beef (you can do it with us here: perrylc.com/sides) because it can last in your freezer for years if it’s packaged correctly. Not only does this ease your concerns, but it helps support your local farming community. Farmers work hard to provide, just as you do. With the general public depending so heavily on the grocery store supply chain, these local guys need support from neighbors like you. And through supporting them, you support a long chain of other local families and businesses in your neighborhood. It’s a beautiful thing.
by Laura Hamlin
Alicia Perry, PhD, Owner/Operator and all around Hay Maven (see my blog post on the time I fell off a haystack...). I share industry insights, tips & tricks on grilling great beef, and my personal journey into the ranching world.