4th of July Feast

Meat grilling

Written By

Sam Comstock

Written on

June 01 , 2007

It’s that time of year again, when you grill your steak and hamburgers to perfection in  the backyard. I’m not sure which part I enjoy most – deciding which type of beef to eat, smelling the meat as it cooks, eating it, or realizing there’s almost nothing left to clean off the dishes!

Some of you might not think picking out beef is fun , but there are so many good    choices – not just for the cut of meat, but also for where it came from and how it was raised.  This July 4th holiday, why not go straight to a local farmer for your grilling needs? That’s the best place to go if you really want to know more about what you’re eating. Not only can you talk with the farmer and see the animals, you don’t have to rely on confusing USDA descriptions. Plus you’ll be supporting the local economy and keeping the fields near your home open and scenic.

Buying local beef is a bit different than buying it in the supermarket. Often the meat is frozen so the farmers can balance their supply with demand. Some farmers offer individual cuts for sale, while others sell halves or quarters of an animal. (One steer can produce over 300 pounds of meat, so few of us buy a whole one.) Some steaks have more than one name (for instance, a boneless top loin steak is also known as a NY Strip, a Strip, a Boneless Club, an Ambassador, and so on), and the thickness can be different, and so can the amount of fat trimmed off. Farmers are used to these questions, and can help you make the right choices.

Where do you buy local meat? Usually at a farmers’ market or at a farm’s on-site store. Below is a list of just a few area beef producers who sell individual packages (rather than just halves or quarters). The best way to find local beef, though, is to ask any farmer you know – if they don’t have meat for sale they very likely know someone who does. I hope you’ll find the act of buying local meat as much fun as I do, and that you’ll have a great summer of grilling.

About the Author

Sam Comstock

Sam Comstock

Sam Comstock is a Livestock Specialist for University of Vermont Extension. He and his family have a small farm in Chester.

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