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Buying Grass-Fed Beef in California

I’m interested in eating grass-fed beef because it’s better for us to eat, for the environment, and for the cows.  And who doesn’t like happy cows grazing on a hillside rather than standing in their own slop?  A group of families in my local homeschooling group are interested in collecting our resources and purchasing a whole grass-fed cow to be slaughtered, cut-up, wrapped, frozen, and shipped directly to us.  I wanted to get an idea of how much this would cost, so I started to research the grass-fed farms in California and figured other people might be interested.

Getting Started

Why buy grass-fed beef? 

Chart of typical beef distribution in pounds.

How to cook it.

Map of grass-fed farms in CA.

American Grassfed Association – Features a list of farms producing grass-fed beef, poultry, dairy, goats, and lamb

EatWild – The #1 Site for Grass-Fed Food & Facts

A funny post on “pastured hippy meat vs agri-industrial meat”

Farm vs Local Stores

If I lived within driving distance of a farm, I would buy grass-fed beef, no question.  However, since I don’t, the shipping costs do make it extra pricey.

Some stores do carry grass-fed beef.  The only local store in my area, to my knowledge, is Henry’s and while I love shopping there, sometimes their markup is huge.  (For example, I recently purchased peppermint extract there and it was $4.99 only to discover that Trader Joe’s sells it for $0.99.  That’s right, one fifth the price.)

Another option, is to start requesting grass fed beef at CostCo whose maximum markup is 15%.  They pay a living wage, they are good for communities, and have even been dubbed “the anti-Wal-Mart.”  I’ve noticed that my local CostCo has been carrying more and more organic food and products: ground beef, bread, milk, whole frozen chickens, body wash, peanut butter, frozen mixed vegetables, frozen blueberries, fresh mixed greens, diced canned tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, shampoo, and organic clothes all at your reasonable, everyday CostCo prices.

Based on their current organic inventory, which is growing by the month, I think they would carry grass-fed beef if enough people requested it and bought it.  You can request items via their suggestion “section” (usually by the return area), which is what I intend to do.  I wonder if they did carry grass-fed beef if they would sell it for less than $8.75 per pound (more on this later.)   And if you do notice grass-fed beef there, tell your friends, so it sells and CostCo knows to restock it!  If you don’t live close to a CostCo, search their website for organic products.  I recently saw organic baby/crib mattresses for $120.

Grass-Fed Farms in California

As I started collecting information from farms, I just started organizing it here so I could quickly refer back.  As you can see, this information is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a start and I thought I would share.  As I research more farms, I’ll add that information below.

Beer River Valley, Ferdale

Split Half – $6.30 per pound – (approx 125 lbs)
This is a quarter of beef that contains equal proportions of the cuts from the front to the back.

Half – $6.15 per pound – (approx 250 lbs)
This contains all of the beef cuts from either the left or right side.

Whole – $6.00 per pound – (approx 500 lbs)
This contains all of the beef cuts.

All packages include an assortment of steaks, roasts, ground beef and stew meat. Weights are not exact. Weights depend on the carcass size. Prices include cut, wrap and freezing. Final price is based on packaged weight of delivered beef. Prices do not include delivery or shipping.

All of our beef is USDA inspected.

In addition you can choose to order Organ Meats (depending on availability – sold on a first come first served basis)

I emailed them asking for a quote on shipping a whole cow and they quickly replied (within a couple hours) and quoted $1200.  (Note that shipping prices vary depending on where in the country you are.)  Assuming that the total cost of $4200 was split amongst 8 families, that would be $525 for approximately 60 pounds of meat at $8.75 per pound requiring 2.3 cubic feet of freezer space to store.

Ennes Ranch, Brentwood (only available for pick-up)

What packages are available?

A. Split quarter (15 pounds steak, 40 pounds ground beef, 25 pounds roasts & stew). Weights vary depending on the animal and the size of the cuts.

B. Split quarter (15 pounds steak, 30 pounds ground beef, 35 pounds roasts & stew).

C. Half (weight can vary from 200 to 300 pounds)(custom cuts & package size options).

D. Other – please ask.

How much will it cost?

Meat sold in large orders is $5.50 per pound, regardless of cut

We ask you to give us a deposit, $150.00 with your order.

Balance is due after the meat is processed, frozen, and ready for pick-up.

How is the beef is prepared for customers?

Animals are processed from May until August.
Slaughtered at a USDA inspected facility.
Hung for a minimum of two weeks.
Cut and packaged professionally

How to Order:

Choose package A, B, or C.
Contact Ennes Ranch for availability.
Send deposit with your name, address, phone number, and email address
We will notify you two weeks before the meat is ready to be picked up at Austin Meats in Ripon, California

Fair Oaks Ranch, Paso Robles

Flat rate of $7.50/pound.

Here is a link to their brochure.

All meat is vacuumed packed for long freezer life.
Customer pays for shipping.
Approximate yield on a 1200 lb steer is 40% yield of meat
or 480 lbs packaged weight.

USDA CUT AND WRAP
NO ADDED HORMONES OR ANTIBOITCS USED

Call for current prices and availability. Deposits required with each order.

Hearst Ranch, San Simeon (doesn’t sell whole cows, only cuts and rather pricey at that)

Paicines Ranch, Paicines

You have to email or call them for cuts and prices, but they are a CSA partner (aka Eating with the Seaons, which is really cool if you live in Central California.

Lindner Bison, Valencia

I love how they have so many ways to buy!  You can get a steak or a whole bison!

4 easy ways to buy
- per package
- per 40 lb. or 20 lb. assortment
- per quarter, half or whole
- per 10 lb. burger
Call our toll-free number! 866-247-8753
STEAKS
1 Tenderloin
2 NY Strip Loin
3 Ribeye
4 Top Sirloin
5 Chuck
6 Cube steak
ROASTS
7 Chuck
8 Rump
9 Hump
10 Top round
OTHER
11 Fajita strips
12 Kabob mest
13 Stew meat
14 Burger, bulk
15 Burger, patties
MIX & MATCH
16 Meaty soup bones
17 Tongue
18 Heart
19 Liver & kidney
20 Oxtail & neckbones
21 RM Oysters
22 Jerky – Low sodium/No preservatives!
23 Short ribs
24 Marrow & Dog Bones

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