STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Buy Meat & Dairy Directly From Producers

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Buying your meat and dairy groceries directly from farmers is the best way to keep track of your impact both on the environment and on your body. Large-scale meat and dairy operations often raise a number of concerns. These include waste run-off into local water supplies, use of hormones and antibiotics, and crowded animal living conditions. Do business with a local meat and dairy farmer who can supply you with meat and dairy from healthy and humanely raised animals.

Tips & Tricks
If you’re having trouble finding a farm, do some sleuthing at your supermarket or local restaurants. Ask them where they get their meat. Give their supplier a call or ask them to do so—dig all the way up the supply chain until you find someone who can give you a list of farmers in your region.

Once you find a local producer, visit the farm to see for yourself. Look around and ask questions. This way you can make sure that they walk the walk of a sustainable farmer, and you can also just get a little closer to the food you eat.

Web & Print Resources
Find meat and dairy farms near you:
www.eatwellguide.org

Learn about sustainable meat and dairy:
www.sustainabletable.org/issues/

Book:
 The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan

Personal Story
This material originally appeared in Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

A chicken—or steak, or ham, or carton of eggs—can find its way from Polyface Farm to an eater’s plate by five possible routes: direct sales at the farm store, farmer’s markets, metropolitan buying clubs, a handful of small shops in Staunton, and Joel’s brother Art’s panel truck, which makes deliveries to area restaurants every Thursday. Each of these outlets seems quite modest in itself, yet taken together they comprise the arteries of a burgeoning local food economy that Joel believes is indispensable to the survival of his kind of agriculture (and community), not to mention to the reform of the entire global food system.

Fun Facts

About 3.5% of all dairy products sold in the U.S. are certified organic, and organic milk sales are growing by about 25% each year. Source

There are about 65,000 dairy farms in the U.S., but about half of our milk is supplied by just 3.7% of U.S. dairy farms. Source

In the U.S., food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate. Source