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UPDATED 11/8/2020 with new information on Crowd Cow's subscription options.
Are you frustrated with the meat selection in your local supermarket? Wish you could find a way to order farm fresh meat directly from the farm?
You're not alone.
Once you start paying attention to the ingredients in your food and the path your meat took to get to your plate, you'll likely start wondering how to find quality pasture raised, sustainable, farm fresh meat options for your family.
What is farm fresh, sustainable meat?
When you buy meat in your neighborhood supermarket, it's most likely from animals raised in conventional feed lots.
Here's a summary of what you'll find at a conventional feed lot. Animals are:
- Crammed into small spaces.
- Raised and fattened as quickly as possible (usually with a diet of corn and soy products, sometimes a little grass too).
- Overuse of antibiotics to help keep sick animals alive.
Is grass fed meat better?
Meat from grass fed and pastured animals has a more healthy ratio of healthy fats (Omega 3: Omega 6), whereas conventional grain fed beef has very little Omega 3s, so the ratio skews towards the unhealthy side.
Grass fed beef also contains about twice as much CLA as grain fed beef. CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid has several health benefits, including a reduction in fat (in YOUR body).
The idea behind the grass-fed meat movement is to let the animals graze in their natural environment.
Some people prefer the taste of grain fed beef, because of the higher fat content. For those people, a sustainable meat option would be to find pasture raised, grain finished beef for more tender, marbled cuts of beef (Crowd Cow has that option).
Where is the best place to get grass fed & pastured Farm Fresh meat?
The best place to get grass fed and pastured sustainable and ethical meat is from a local farmer. You can buy a whole animal, or a portion of it (depending on your freezer space and family size). So you could get ¼ cow, or ½ pig.
You could also try to find a local farmer who raises pastured chickens that you can buy from.
Even if you're in an urban area, you can find farm fresh meat. Check your local farmer's markets and take the opportunity to meat farmers in your area.
If you're looking to find a farm near you that sells pastured meats, use the EatWild website directory of 1400 pasture based farms to find a farm near you.
The trouble is that there's a LOT of places where local farmers can't reach. And even if you live near an awesome farm, you might not have the freezer space available that's needed to invest in a share of a pig or cow.
If you can't find a local farmer to buy grass fed and pastured meat from, you're in luck. Because in this modern age, there are several options to order pastured meat online and have it delivered to your door.
Enter Crowd Cow.
What is Crowd Cow?
In this Crowd Cow review, I want to tell you not only about my experience buying from them (you'll see that below), but also why this company was founded. I believe in the sustainable food movement and I hope this is encouraging and enlightening to you.
Related: What is sustainable food?
Crowd Cow is a Seattle based business that partners with ethical farms and ranches in an online meat marketplace. They ship high quality meat and seafood throughout the U.S (except Alaska and Hawaii).
The company was created as a way to bring the direct-farm sales into the online world.
It all started after they found it hard to find a local farm where they could buy a share of an animal (like ¼ or ½ cow). Their friends had told them the meat tasted so good from the local farms, but in order to do it, you need to have a large freezer (with plenty of space), and you need to be able to find a farm near you.
Ethan and Joe made Crowd Cow as a way to "crowdfund a cow" so 50 different people could each buy a tiny amount of the beef directly from the local farm.
They are on a mission to provide options to customers looking for quality meat, and also a place to create a meaningful connection between the farmer and the customer. Because, let's be honest...don't we all like knowing where our food is coming from?
Instead of finding a farm to buy your meat from near you, you can go to Crowd Cow's website and see what's available at the farms they've partnered with. They only work with farms they know personally, and they believe in full food transparency.
How does Crowd Cow work?
On their website, you can shop by the type of meat you're looking for, or shop by farm. They're currently partnering with over 40 different farms, and you can read about each of them on their website here.
At Crowd Cow, you can get any order on repeat (like a subscription). Basically it's a Custom Box where YOU choose the meat, YOU choose the frequency, and THEY deliver it to your door on repeat (with a bit of savings, too).
What’s the pricing for Crowd Cow Farm Fresh meat?
The pricing is higher than what you'll see in the supermarket. But you need to remember that this is NOT the same meat you're used to seeing in the supermarket.
This is meat from animals raised as intended - in pastures on ethical ranches and farms. The meat tastes amazing, and you can feel good about supporting them.
Here is some pricing info for just a few of their products on their website.
- New York strip steak - $22 for a 12 oz steak
- Ground dry aged steak - $9 for a 1lb pack
- Top sirloin steak - $10 for an 8 oz steak
- Wagyu chuck eye steak - $8 for a 6 oz steak
- Pastured chicken thighs - $8 for a 12 oz pack
- Copper river sockeye salmon - $15 for a 6 oz fillet
We live in the country, and have access to local farmers where we buy ¼ or ½ cow from on an as-needed basis. For that reason, we won't be buying beef from Crowd Cow. However we don't have a local farm to buy pastured chicken from. So we'll be using Crowd Cow for that.
Crowd Cow was created to let people who don't have access to farm raised meat connect with a farmer and experience the difference from what they're used to.
So if you live near farms who raise cows, pigs, or chickens on pasture and in an ethical way, reach out to them and see about becoming a buyer.
What kind of meat can I get at Crowd Cow?
You can get a wide variety of meat cuts from Crowd Cow.
They currently sell sustainable seafood, 100% grass-fed beef, pasture raised grain-finished beef, Japanese Wagyu beef, domestic Wagyu beef, Pork, Chicken, and American lamb.
You get to see which farm provided your meat, and because this isn't a wholesale meat operation, the availability is constantly changing based on what's available.
Currently on the website I see New York Strip Steak available from 8 farms, Pasture-Raised Chicken Breast available from one farm, and Thick Cut Bacon available from 2 farms (among many other choices). See what's available here.
My experience with Farm Fresh Meat From Crowd Cow
We recently bought some whole pastured chickens and chicken livers from Crowd Cow. It's really hard to find quality chicken meat where I live. I can find "Organic" chicken, but that doesn't really say anything about how the birds lived.
Pastured Whole Chicken -Pasturebird Farm
Crowd Cow sells pastured chicken, which is exactly what I wanted. We bought three pasture raised whole chickens from Pasturebird Farm (a farm in Murrieta, CA that raise chickens outside on grass, with room to roam, on locally-milled feed).
We ordered them on Crowd Cow and thoroughly enjoyed eating them. SO much more flavor than chicken in the grocery store. We also bought chicken livers.
Everything came frozen in an insulated box. It was still completely frozen when it got to us.
I love buying whole chickens because that means we get the bones to make broth. And when you get pastured chicken, the bones make REALLY good broth.
To cook whole chickens, we lay it on top of a bunch of veggies in our cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven for a few hours until it's fully cooked.
Crowd Cow vs Butcher Box - What’s the Difference?
Butcher Box is a meat subscription service that delivers grass fed meat, heritage pork, and free-range organic chicken to your door. Butcher Box is less focused on specific farms, and aims to get grass-fed meat to the masses.
Which means when you buy from Butcher Box, you're not really sure where your meat is coming from.
Crowd Cow is more than just a subscription service, although they recently added a subscription option. Crowd Cow partners with individual farms to sell meat as it becomes available. It's like you're buying part of a cow with fifty other people.
Crowd Cow has craft cuts of meat that Butcher box doesn't offer. And you get the added benefit of full transparency knowing exactly which farm your meat came from when you buy from Crowd Cow.
Butcher Box and Crowd Cow Pricing Comparison
Butcher Box subscription box prices (they typically advertise as costing $6/meal):
- Custom box (9-14 lbs) is $149
- Custom box (18-26 lbs) is $270
- Classic Box (8-11 lbs) is $129 - Mixed box, beef & pork only, beef & chicken only, or beef only.
- Big Box (16-22 lbs) is $238 - Mixed box, beef & pork only, beef & chicken only, or beef only
With Crowd Cow, you get to order whatever cuts of meat you'd like and get it on repeat for a 5% savings. So your subscription box could be as large or small as you'd like. How's THAT for customization?
Not sure which direction to go? Try them both, and decide for yourself which meat tastes better, and which company works better with what you're looking for.
And click here to get $25 off your first Crowd Cow order (or just use the code STB25 at checkout).
How can I get a Crowd Cow Promo Code?
Crowd Cow is a bit pricey. A lot higher prices than you'll see in the supermarket, but I believe what you get what you pay for. With Crowd Cow you get full transparency in the farm your meat is coming from, as well as a connection with your farmer.
If you're looking for a promo code/coupon code, I've got a code for you right here. Get $25 off your first order here with the code STB25.
What do you think?
What do you think about Crowd Cow? Where do you get farm fresh meat from? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.