By Carolyn Twesten, Weaver Street Market Meat Merchandiser
At Weaver Street Market, we believe that a local food system is a strong food system, and the more that our food comes from people we know, the better! We work with many farmers all over the state, from dairy farmers to orchardists. One of the farms we are proud to work with is Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, NC, which supplies 100 percent of our fresh beef.
Including meat in one’s diet is of course a very personal decision and for some it is a deeply emotional topic. We respect the decisions of those on both sides of the fence and strive to meet the needs of all our shoppers the best we can. To this end, we believe that providing local, pasture-raised meats is the most responsible option to provide our meat-eating shoppers.
Michael Pollan describes pasture-raised beef as being part of a “primordial food chain comprising nothing more than ruminants and grass and sunlight.” Pasture-based grazing operations reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticide, which is used to grow conventional feed crops, and avoid the problems that occur with long-term use of these chemicals.
Cattle at Mills Farm
Beyond a reduction in chemical use, studies show many benefits of raising cattle on pasture, and multiple factors determine environmental benefit. Well-managed grazing operations use fewer energy-intensive inputs, like fertilizer (the pasture grows without it, aided by the manure of the cows) and fuel (the grasses and legumes of a pasture are perennials, so less planting and tilling is needed). These operations rotate animals to fresh pasture, always apart from streambeds. This rotation spreads manure and improves soil, reduces erosion and water pollution, increases carbon sequestration, and preserves biodiversity and wildlife.
Since pasture-raised cattle gain weight more slowly than grain-fed animals, they take longer to reach slaughter weight and consequently emit more greenhouse gases (per pound of beef). These higher emissions are somewhat offset by the carbon sequestration that occurs in pasture systems and the reduced transportation of animals and feed. A pasture system with the addition of supplemental feed (to speed things up) could also reduce this effect while maintaining many benefits of pastured beef. And, research has not yet examined the carbon or energy footprint per unit of nutrient density.
Mills Family Farm
Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, NC, supplies 100 percent of our fresh beef. Nicole and Bradley Mills raise cattle on pasture on Bradley’s family farm. Life on pasture is more humane than life in crowded, unsanitary feedlots and leads to less disease, eliminating any need for antibiotics.
Bradley examines the genetic history of all the cattle he purchases, looking for cows whose ancestors could grow and thrive on a pasture-based diet. Bradley and Nicole start by sourcing young animals with good genetics, continue with the establishment of high-quality pasture for forage, and have developed a grain-free supplemental feed formulated for high energy and consistent weight gain. These animals are raised with conscientious management practices and without added hormones, antibiotics, and the stress of living in confinement.
Our quest for amazing beef finally led us to Mills Family Farm in 2015, and we have been thrilled with the quality of their beef ever since. This week we are giving owners the chance to stock up for their winter stews and family dinners, at a great price!
This week’s owner coupon is 20% off all Weaver Meats beef, good February 12-19, 2020. Owners, look for the coupon in our weekly e-news, sent on Wednesday morning. If you didn’t get the coupon, you may need to update your email address in our owner database. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not an owner? Become one today to receive the weekly owner coupon as well as the other benefits of ownership, like invitations to the Co-op Fair, a logo T-shirt and bag, and the right to vote in board elections. Learn more here.