9 Regenerative Online Farm-to-Table Meat Shops in the US
If you are having trouble finding good beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, and other meat from your local farmer’s market, you might have to consider shopping online. So to help you in your efforts to find sustainable animal-based foods, I have put together a list of 9 regenerative online farm-to-table meat shops in the US.
Now I know you must be thinking that buying your meat online goes against the principals of zero waste and in a way you would be correct. There isn’t any way for this to be completely zero waste. However, there are companies and farms committed to minimizing the waste and packaging that comes from shipping meat directly to your doorstep. More importantly, they also use regenerative agriculture practices. These practices are more ethical and environmentally sound than what you would find in the organic section of your grocery store.
Whenever it is feasible, support your local farmers by going to farmer’s markets, butcher shops, and community-supported agriculture group (CSA). These guys will give you the freshest food possible (the average distance from farm to market is 50 miles) at a price that is usually comparable to anything at the grocery store. Plus, odds are that these guys won’t mind if you bring your own containers.
Why Regenerative Agriculture?
The agricultural industry has been on my mind the last couple of months and the effects our system has contributed to climate change from both farms and ranches. I thought for years that buying organic food was enough only to find out it isn’t.
Why is that?
The Big “Organic”
Most of the organic big brands you see out there (Annie’s, Horizon, and Kashi to name a few) are owned by big agribusinesses (General Mills, Danone, and Kellog respectively). Naturally, those companies follow the same exact practices as their conventional farms.
If that isn’t alarming enough then keep in mind that these companies and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have consistently put profits above keeping the integrity of the organic label intact. For example, all of Horizon’s milk most likely comes from “organic” CAFOs. These CAFOs operate exactly like conventional ones. For example, animals are cloistered in very tight spaces and in many cases don’t see the light of day.
With the USDA having a shoddy reputation for enforcing organic standards, the organic label might not be what you think it is. And even if these farms do actually follow the procedures set down in the National Organic Program (NOP), that doesn’t mean that their animals are being treated humanely nor is the soil being managed appropriately.
And in some cases, these labels are oftentimes misleading. For example, most animal-based products labeled 100% grass-fed are not actually grass-fed exclusively. (1) In fact, in 2016, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), announced that it was dropping its official definition of “grass-fed.” The AMS claimed that it [AMS] “does not have the authority to define labeling standards and determine if marketing claims are truthful and not misleading.” The marketing label, in this case, is the Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard.
Which is a ridiculous statement since they are “charged with facilitating the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops.” (2) I may not be well-versed in legalese but that sounds to me like defining labels is well within their authority.
Regardless, what does that mean for you? In short, there are no real regulations in place for companies that use the grass-fed label. So unless you want to do trust falls with companies like Aurora Diary or Tyson Foods, I would bet you that their claim isn’t legit.
So what exactly are you paying for when you buy organic?
That’s a great question! If you’d like to know more about this topic, go here.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
I keep using the term regenerative agriculture and it shouldn’t be confused with organic. In all cases, regenerative farms are organic farms but not all organic farms are regenerative.
So what is regenerative agriculture?
I think Regeneration International defines Regenerative Agriculture the best:
“Specifically, Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density. Regenerative agriculture improves soil health, primarily through the practices that increase soil organic matter. This not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health, but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing both water holding capacity and sequestering carbon at greater depths, thus drawing down climate-damaging levels of atmospheric CO2, and improving soil structure to reverse civilization-threatening human-caused soil loss. Research continues to reveal the damaging effects to soil from tillage, applications of agricultural chemicals and salt based fertilizers, and carbon mining. Regenerative Agriculture reverses this paradigm to build for the future.”Regeneration International
In short, Regenerative Agriculture mimics nature and improves the health of the soil. With depleting topsoil, desertification, deforestation, and dangerous levels of greenhouse gases due to mismanaged livestock and land use (which both contribute 14.5% and 8% respectively to global greenhouse gas emissions); Regenerative Agriculture is more important than ever for combating climate change and even reversing it through carbon sequestering and the like.
Plus, Regenerative Agriculture produces more and better food than conventional growing. This will provide better food security moving forward as we cope with the climate change that we are experiencing now. (3) And regenerative farms are smaller farms (for now) so you are supporting farmers that believe in integrity and good practices. And the prices for the meat, eggs, and dairy you buy from these online farm-to-table meat shops is comparable to the prices you see at the organic section of your grocery store.
So when you support regenerative farms, you are not only giving money to small farmers but also helping the planet and our future. And you can be proud and certain of what your hard-earned dollar is buying you and your family.
So while this may not be a completely zero waste option, I think it outweighs the impact of the packaging that comes from shipping meat (and veggies in some cases) to your doorstep.
9 Regenerative Online Farm-to-Table Meat Shops
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Some (not all) of these farms and company links you see do have affiliates or reward programs with Late Summer Mama. For complete transparency, those link will be designated with an *.
White Oaks Pastures
White Oak Pastures is located in Bluffton, Georgia. These guys are a zero-waste farm that uses radically traditional farming. They raise their animals in a regenerative manner using humane animal management practices.
As a zero-waste farm, they use every part of the animal as intended. They turn the leather into leather goods or dried for pet chew rawhides. White Oak Pastures render the fat into tallow products (ever made soap from tallow?). The viscera, which is inedible, is composted and used as fertilizer.
They are also a Savory Hub. The Savory Institute is a group that works towards large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through holistic management to address the issues of desertification, climate change, and food and water insecurity. These hubs help to heal the land by using properly managed livestock. White Oak Pastures works with the Savory Institute. They also participate in the Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) program. This program takes monthly samples from transects throughout the farm. These samples show that their practices are, in fact, sequestering carbon, controlling erosion, and increasing the organic matter in the soil.
For shipping, they give you the option to use compostable coolers at an additional 10% cost of the total shipment. These Green Cell Foam insulating shipping coolers are made of green cell foam which is wrapped in a polyethylene film to protect from moisture and humidity. Green Cell foam is primarily made from cornstarch and is backyard compostable, water-soluble, and biodegradable. It requires 70% less energy and produces 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based foams. The film is recyclable anywhere #4 plastic is accepted so while it isn’t completely zero waste, it is much lower in waste than most.
They offer beef, goat, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, goose, duck, rabbit, guinea, and even vegetables. Their livestock is all truly free-roaming, grass-fed, grass-finished, GMO-free, and never given antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids. Their prices are similar to what I’ve seen in the organic section of the grocery store (in some cases less). For example, bone-in chicken breasts will cost you $22.80 for 2.5 pounds (that comes to $9.12 per pound).
Originally started by the owner, Matt Maier, of Thousand Hills Cattle Company, Graz Grub is a collective of 50 like-minded small farms. All of these farms use Regenerative Agriculture. Matt Maier’s family farm is located in Clearwater, Minnesota. And it is 1 of the 13 Savory Institute Hubs located in North America (White Oaks being another). Being a proud leader in regenerative farming practices, Thousand Hills now positively affected over 6,000 acres in the US.
Graz Grub offers a selection of beef and pork. All these cows have spent their entire lifetime raised on grass exclusively. Their pigs are raised in woods and pastures, feed non-GMO grains, and never confined. Prices from Thousand HIlls are a bit more expensive than what you will get from the organic section of your grocery store (an 8-ounce ribeye steak goes for $13.99). But if you buy in larger amounts you can reduce the price by about $2-3 per steak. While their selection is limited, all orders over $100 ship for free.
Primal Pastures is a small farm located in Temecula, California. This is a small regenerative farm run by a family who are committed to raising animals in a holistic manner. They started their farm in 2012 with only one acre of land and about 100 chickens. They use regenerative methods to raise their animals. That means their animals spend their entire lives out in pastures, foraging, grazing, and living as they naturally do.
Primal Pastures considers themselves grass farmers first and foremost. So they focus on the health of the soil. They practice rotational grazing so that the soil and grasses have the time needed to recover.
Their chickens receive supplemental feed which only contains items found in their natural diet that is organic, non-GMO, and free of soy. Their sheep graze on the grasses ahead of the chickens. The farmers never interfere with them unless necessary. The sheep give birth outside and unassisted. They never remove the lambs from the flock and wean just as they would in the wild. Their shop also includes pork raised both on their farm and on a partner farm that too follows regenerative practices. They raise their pigs, both Berkshire and Kune, on 30-acres of pasture and woodland foraging for plants and grubs and eating seasonal vegetables. Their diet also includes organic non-GMO grains.
Primal Pastures have also partnered with another farm that raises cattle in Arizona. They have personally visited this farm to ensure that this farm also follows the same standards. All their cows are grass-fed, grass-finished, with no supplemental feed, antibiotics, vaccines, or growth hormones.
They offer pasture-raised chicken, eggs, pork, beef, and lamb. The average price for a pound of chicken breasts will cost around $22. Their prices are much higher than what you would find at the grocery store (raising these animals take twice as long as at a CAFO). But you can be confident that they raise these animals humanely. And they come from a farm that does lessen their impact on the environment.
All shipments come in fully recyclable insulated boxes packed with dry ice. They ship all of their orders on Tuesdays through FedEx. They offer home delivery to California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.
Crowd Cow *
Crowd Cow is a Seattle-based company that provides a marketplace for consumers to buy directly from vetted small farmers and ranchers around the world. Their mission is to provide an alternative to the conventional system for purchasing meat and create meaningful relationships between consumers and farmers so that people can stay informed about where their meat is coming from. So while they are not farmers themselves, they have set up a place where people can find farmers easily and conveniently.
Crowd Cow gives customers the ability to shop by farm or by cut. They feature each farm with a quick bio of the owner, the farm’s pasture practices, and breed of the animal. This is a great way to get to know these farmers and how these animals are raised. They only source their products from individual farms that are not concentrated feedlots or meat brokers. While not all these farmers practice Regenerative Agriculture, Crowd Cow gives you all the details and transparency you need to make informed decisions.
Crowd Cow offers beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and seafood to their customers in Green Cell Foam containers. All meats are vacuumed sealed and shipped with dry ice. In general, their prices look to be a little higher than what you would get from other sites or the grocery store. For example, pasture-raised chicken breasts are around $12 per pound but they give you free shipping on orders of $99 or more plus $25 off your first order. They also offer subscriptions for an assortment of cuts which they ship biweekly, monthly, or longer at a flat rate with free shipping.
Crowd Cow is a great option for anyone looking to buy better quality meat that isn’t on a tight budget and doesn’t want the hassle of finding individual farms themselves.
Grass Roots Farmer’s Cooperative
Grass Roots Coop (GRFC) is a family-owned cooperative that creates a marketplace for their farms and customers, much like Crowd Cow. They provide the best quality products raised on regenerative farms. They also provide full transparency for the whole process from the farm or pasture to the feed and processor.
All their farms are small scale operations in order to raise their animals with regenerative methods. They raise all their animals outdoors their whole lives and through regenerative practices, they focus on the health of the soil.
They are extremely committed to the welfare of their animals. By 2021, GRFC plans to have all their beef, pork, and lamb certified with Animal Welfare Approved, a certification by the ASPCA® Shop With Your Heart program.
They have also put together a detailed printable practice and standards manual approved by the Board of Directors that all of the members must follow. If you’d like to know more about their standards, go here.
GRFC offers beef, pork, and poultry that is all raised on pasture. They give their chickens and pigs non-GMO feed. The cows are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. The GRFC raises all their animals in pasture or woodland their entire lives and give no antibiotics or hormones. Prices are a little higher than what you would find at the grocery store. For example, a 12-14 oz. package of chicken breasts is going to cost $14. But you will receive $30 off your first order.
They ship all orders in 100% biodegradable boxes with a pre-industrial cotton insulation, and dry ice via FedEx. Shipping is free if you order $120 or more.
Vital Choice *
Vital Choice, located in Washington, is a certified B Corporation that is dedicated to promoting good health to their customers by providing seafood at a fair price that is natural, sustainably harvested, and of superior quality. They only buy from fisheries that are either certified sustainable or considered sustainable by groups like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
Vital Choice has also created the Vital Green™ Environmental Stewardship Program which fights global warming by offsetting the impacts of shipping, employs innovative SeaSaver™ boxes for most of their shipments, promotes recycling of foam shipping cubes via their free CubeCycle™ program, as well as promotes sustainable foods and business practices, and supports organizations dedicated to sustainability.
Many Vital Choice seafood products (Salmon, Sablefish, Halibut, Cod, Albacore Tuna, Alaskan King Crab, Oregon Pink Shrimp, and Maine Lobster) come from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the state of Alaska’s Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) program. Products, like their Canned Albacore Tuna, Wild Antarctic Krill Oil, and High-Potency Omega-3 Therapy Oil, bear chain of custody certification by MSC. Likewise, all Vital Choice seafood is very low mercury because they feature species that are inherently low in it and offer only younger, smaller members of predatory species.
Vital Choice offers a wide array of seafood (wild fish and shellfish) both canned and frozen as well as omega supplements, chicken, bison, pork, beef, seaweed, kelp, and a few other items. Prices are very reasonable. For example, Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon will be $15.40 for 6 oz. But if you buy in larger quantities, the more of a discount you can get.
Their SeaSaver™ shipment boxes are 100% recyclable cardboard boxes with a soft, flexible, post-consumer-recycled cotton fiber pad covered with moisture-resistant film (both of which are 100% biodegradable) and packaged with dry ice. And for those few shipments that have to use Styrofoam, they have set up the CubeCycle™ program. This program allows you to ship back to them those pieces for recycling completely free. Vital Choice ships to the US, including Alaska and Hawaii, and only non-perishables to Canada. And if you order $99 or more within the continental US, it ships for free.
Seven Sons is based in Roanoke, Indiana. They are a family-owned farm that has built a network of other farms that all follow regenerative and humane practices. They pride themselves are the transparency of their farming practices. And to prove it, they welcome anyone to take a tour of their farm. They also have videos online that show the farm’s operations for those too far away. Their animals are free-roaming, grass-fed (free-choice mineral supplementation when needed), and given no antibiotics, hormones, or steroids.
Seven Sons raise their cows outside and give shelter only when needed. They rotate the cows on 550 acres pasture lands each day to keep them supplied with fresh green grass. This grazing rotation is ideal for both the animals and the soil. As the cows graze a patch of land, they tear off about half the grasses which kill off the roots. Those roots that die off feed the microbes in the soil. This, in turn, puts more organic matter back into the soil and sequesters carbon out of the atmosphere. Because of this practice, Seven Sons does not need to use fertilizers to reinvigorate soil. Since the cows are rotated to new grass every day, the old field is given time to regrow and reestablish itself. This also helps the cows health since these fields have a variety of different grasses. Different grasses have different nutrients.
They offer through their farm or a partner farm chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, bison, and fish. Their prices are also comparable to organic meats from the grocery store. For example, their boneless chicken breasts are $9.95 per pound. Unfortunately, they have a smaller shipping radius than most and offer home deliveries to Indiana residents and Chicago. The shipment is in corrugated boxes with an insulated liner and dry ice. They also accept back any clean packaging for re-use or recycling if you are an Indiana or Chicago customer. If you live outside of the Indiana or Chicago area, they have partnered with Harvest Box. However, Harvest Box follows their own separate shipping and packaging practices.
While they are not as close to zero waste as others, they do raise their animals humanely and use regenerative practices with their farmland.
U.S. Wellness Meats *
US Wellness Meats is another online marketplace that has partnered with small farms to bring their products to consumers. Started in 2000 by a group of farmers in Monticello, Missouri; they saw that big biz was taking a toll on our health and the planet. They use rotational grazing practices so their animals do not need antibiotics and hormones to stay healthy. And the soil doesn’t need pesticides and artificial irrigation systems to maintain a rich biodiversity.
Every partner farm is a small operation. All of them commit to using humane and sustainable practices. All the cows, sheep, and bison are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. They give all the pigs and chickens outdoor access and raise them on a mixed diet of foraging and feed that is non-GMO. None of farms give these animals antibiotics or hormones. All their seafood, supplied by Vital Choice, is wild-caught and sustainably harvested.
They offer a wide selection of meats. This includes beef, chicken, lamb, bison, pork, turkey, duck, and seafood as well as diary and other products. Prices are comparable to what you’d find at the grocery store (1 lb. of chicken breasts is $15.45) too.
They ship all orders in insulated Styrofoam containers. They deliver anywhere in the US as well as Puerto Rico and Canada. I have personally asked them if they have explored other shipping options. However, they claim that Styrofoam is still the best one. They do suggest that you get in contact with local organizations like Boy Scouts or Meals on Wheels to see if they can reuse your containers. You can also go through their Go Green Blog for other ideas.
I do not buy meats through them personally as I have found other sources. However, I felt that they were worth adding because they use regenerative practices and have the largest shipping radius I have found. So if you live in Alaska and Hawaii, you can also enjoy more sustainably raised meats as well.
Farmer Girl Meats
Farmer Girl Meats is another online marketplace located in Warrenton, Missouri. They have partnered with small farms that meet their standards of quality. Leslie, the owner and founder, started with a mission to create a holistic food system that gives everyone access to food raised in a healthy and sustainable manner. The Tallgrass Network, which is a Savory Hub, has partnered with them. And all their farmers are trained by them to ensure that each farm is following regenerative practices on their farms.
Each farm is a small operation where the animals live with continuous and unconfined access to pastures. The cows are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. They raise their chickens and pigs on forage and supplemental feed with corn, barley, wheat, and (for chickens only) other grains, minerals, and plant-based proteins. None of the farms give any antibiotics, hormones, or steroids.
They offer chicken, eggs, beef, pork, lamb, and turkey as well as bundle boxes. Prices are comparable to what you’d find at the grocery store (1 lb. of ground beef is $6.79). Also, there is an auto-reorder so you can have your meats delivered without placing an order every time. Plus, you’ll save 5% on every order.
They ship all orders in insulated cooler boxes with ice packs through UPS. Farmer Girl Meats can ship to anywhere in the US except for Alaska and Hawaii. They also offer local delivery within the St. Louis area at a flat rate of $6.
I really hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments please please please leave me a comment below. This is a growing list. If there are any online farm-to-table meat shops I haven’t mentioned, I would love to add it so that everyone (myself included) could benefit from your knowledge.
With Love and Respect,
Tina (Late Summer Mama)
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