In order to feed a large family, I have learned numerous ways to stretch the grocery budget over the years.  I didn’t always realize until a few years ago that all the home cooking from scratch, and the gardening to grow vegetables that I did, was in fact, one of the healthiest things I could have done for my family.

One such money saving strategy is purchasing meat in bulk directly from the grower.  By purchasing a quarter, half, or whole animal, you will get prime cuts of premium meat that are expensive from the grocery store.  While you do have to pay for it all at once, and need to have a decent size freezer to store the meat in, there’s a lot to be said for knowing exactly where (and how) your meat was raised and processed.  Direct selling holds the grower responsible for the quality of the meat grown, and it gives the consumer a direct avenue of compensation if meat purchased is of lower quality than promised.

Local Harvest is an online directory that will direct you to local sustainable and organic farmers that sell meat or other goods directly to consumers.  It is also a good resource to locate farmers markets near you, or restaurants that serve locally grown food.  For those of us who live in the state of Minnesota, The Minnesota Grown Food & Farm Directory is another resource that promotes locally grown food.

Take our farm for example, we raise hogs during the summer months, which roam and forage freely in a pasture which has been seeded with Field peas, Ryegrass, Rape (a member of the cabbage family), and Sudan grass, a blend grown specifically for pasturing hogs.  This chlorophyll rich diet has the end result of higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their meat, making pasture raised pork not only a healthier meat to consume, but lending the hogs themselves happier and healthier than hogs raised in confinement.  Come fall, local customers reserve either a half or whole hog, and they tell the butcher shop exactly how they want it processed.  Happy customers have helped us slowly expand our pasture raised hog operation; the word is getting out – you can have your healthy pork and eat it too!

Eat healthy, be happy!