Reader S. L. sent me the link to this video from cattleman Jim Mundorf describing “how there is an obvious campaign to get cattlemen, who criticize the way the industry currently operates, to shut the hell up”. I recommend spending 8 minutes of your time watching it. In particular, note what he says about foreign meat imports being re-labeled as a US product and sold as such.
I’ve been talking to local farmers and ranchers for some time about the sourcing and pricing of meat, as regular readers will recall. Mr. Mundorf’s news fits what they’ve been telling me. Here in northern Texas, we haven’t been subject to as much pressure from “Big Meat”, but I understand producers in more northerly states are “under the gun”: if they complain, the big feed lots won’t buy their cattle, putting them out of business.
That’s also why my wife and I have long made a practice of buying our meat from a nearby butcher, who sources locally and can tell us where everything came from. He’s not the cheapest source available, but his quality is unmatched. He also makes up things like sausages to order. I recently asked him to make me some of his (justly famous) bratwurst flavored with boudin seasoning from Louisiana. The result was extremely tasty, and (because I ordered in bulk) the price was very reasonable, about 60% of his usual list price for bratwurst. I wasn’t complaining!
He’s also partnered with others in a small-scale regional processing facility, slaughtering up to 1,000 animals every year. You can order a whole cow or portions thereof, or a pig, or whatever. I find the prices a bit high, but the facility points out (with justification) that you’re getting top-quality meat for the money, with no imports and no sub-standard cuts. (You can even go to their farm and select the cow you want – a friend of ours did that recently.) In that sense, yes, I guess the higher price is justifiable. Certainly, the one-third of half a cow that we recently shared with two other families is proving to be very good eating.
My advice? Whenever possible, find a local supplier who’s trustworthy, and buy from him. It pays dividends in helping to avoid the shenanigans described by Mr. Mundorf.