A couple of weeks ago, I waited in the parking lot behind a local mall for our yearly delivery of beef from Morris Grassfed of San Juan Bautista. After the last of the folks picked up their orders, Joe Morris and I got to talking about how long we’ve been a customer (has it been 7 years? More?) and how his ranching and our knowledge about where our beef comes from have grown. We chuckled about the first delivery year – the instructions were to show up at a street corner in the East Bay at an EXACT time and our boxes of beef came out of the back of an unmarked, small delivery van. I’ve got to say, it felt slightly illegal!
I know what our family experience has been with a yearly beef order but I wanted everyone to join in on our conversation so I asked Joe what he would like people to know about the importance of buying locally and knowing the people who produce our food. We share the same opinions.
Grassfed beef is showing up in grocery stores with more regularity these days. This is great – and necessary as we “clean up our act” around food. But much of it is shipped from Central America, New Zealand or Australia, so there’s still an issue with how much it costs to ship products (our carbon footprint). And then there’s the sticker shock of the price at the meat counter.
Local farms and ranches are the backbone of the food production in our country. Buying local keeps dollars in our own community. If we place a priority on supporting local farms and ranches, we will see where the beef we are buying comes from and know the it meets U.S.D.A. and other standards (if its certified organic; animal welfare laws are met).
Our family has also found that we can keep to our food budget much more successfully when we buy what we need from a local ranch or farm. We also know who has touched the meat; that the highest standards are held by the rancher, the butcher, through the delivery.
For our family, it’s about the whole relationship. Without Joe and Julie Morris, we would not know about soil health, land management and what part cows play in the process. We wouldn’t know what care and responsibility are taken with the animals that are part of our food source. Our grandchildren are growing up walking the pastureland, sitting at table with others who care deeply, and having conversations over brownies with the man who makes sure they have food that is the best possible quality to help them grow big and strong. They are also learning respect and gratitude.
We urge everyone we know to find a rancher near to you and forge a relationship. Learn how they support you and how you can support them.
What’s next? How about what to do with that freezer of meat once you get your order? Stay tuned for a riveting story of how our little city family has adapted our planning and cooking to fit this great beef into our busy life.