Monday, October 25, 2010

How about a whole beef in your freezer?

Ran across this article of Jason Krause’s about how he bought a whole beef and worked to figure out what to do with it all. At average usage, a small family will use just over a quarter in a year. Plus it takes a standalone freezer to hold it all.

But this guy went for the whole cow and lived to tell about it…

What’s interesting is the informal solution a New York group figured out. Of course, it’s not something you can legally do in most states – it’s to do with Federal/State laws. But as long as people are in agreement…

Then there was the sheer amount. After three weeks, my wife and I had eaten only a tiny fraction. At that rate, it would take us over a year to finish all the meat. And you really can’t keep it in a freezer longer than a year. I started dreaming of steak, but not in a good way—in an “I have to get rid of this” way.

So I decided to throw a beef party. I borrowed two crock pots and went to work. Hours over the stove produced chili, Italian beef, steak-and-kidney pie, beef bourguignon, and spicy beef short ribs. I invited seven of my friends and family members over, and everyone crammed into our little kitchen and started eating.

My wife made gift bags with spices, a beef recipe, and a couple of pounds of frozen ground beef that the guests were required to take home. We also loaded them up with cooked meat in Tupperware.

At the end of the night, I had unloaded only 50 pounds. I still had easily 100 left.

In the course of my research, I learned there are more sensible ways to buy a side of beef. The aptly named Angus MacDonald organizes a “beefening” each year, in which a group of 20 friends in New York City and Brooklyn split several sides of beef acquired from a farmer in upstate New York. (They also do the same thing with pigs.)

“We’ll often convene late at night, sometimes right on the street in Williamsburg [Brooklyn], and spread out blankets and divide it up right there from the trunk of my car,” says MacDonald. “It must look pretty suspicious to have 15 to 20 people trading white wrapped packages on the street.”

Each person gets an eighth of a steer, or about 40 pounds of meat, for $100 to $150. They trade based on which cuts they prefer. One woman hates the chewiness of steaks, so she trades hers for hamburgers.

Much more sensible.

Of course, there is a probable legal method for handling this – which this group may have solved – buying the beef under the corporate name of the organization. Since they all are members of it, they all share in it’s produce and ownings. But that will be an interpretation of their own state laws. Hope to get a powerpoint up on this shortly.

Stay tuned…