I’ve often extolled the virtues of locally rasied grass-fed meats (good for your body! good for the local economy! good for the environment!), and if you are in the habit of purchasing grass-fed, you should be aware of the most recent developments in the processing sector. There’s a quick summary about the issue on FoodRenegade, and the original article referred to there can be found in The Atlantic, where Joe Cloud, of True & Essential Meats writes:
Picture an hourglass and you’ll understand the sustainable meat crisis: there are plenty of willing consumers out there, and there are more and more farmers looking to “meat” that consumer demand (sorry—couldn’t help myself!), but the real bottleneck is processing capacity. Small, community-based meat processing plants have become an endangered species, done in by an ocean of super-cheap industrial meat and the challenge of meeting the Byzantine demands of USDA regulations without a Ph.D. in microbiology….
For small meat businesses in America, catastrophic events result from changes high up in the regulatory food chain that make it very difficult for small plants to adapt. The most recent extinction event occurred at the turn of the millennium, when small and very small USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plants were required to adopt the costly Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety plan. It has been estimated that 20 percent of existing small plants, and perhaps more, went out of business at that time. Now, proposed changes to HACCP for small and very small USDA-inspected plants threaten to take down many of the ones that remain, making healthy, local meats a rare commodity.
Need more information? Speak with the farmer from whom you purchase your grass-fed meat.
The date for submitting your comments has been extended to June 19 – let’s not forget that if we don’t exercise our right to make ourselves heard, we forfeit the right to complain about an undesirable outcome!
Want to take action? Visit Extension.org.