Take your support of local food producers to the next level by participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and buying local beef in bulk from a local meat packer.
Don’t Buy a Burger, Buy the Whole Shebang
In addition to supporting local ranchers, buying beef in bulk means there are less trips to the grocery store and you don’t need to plan your meals around what’s on sale at the supermarket. Meat comes already packaged for freezing and is generally priced less per pound than the grocery store.
Ready to stock up the freezer? Consumers can purchase pre-packaged, 100 percent grass-fed beef in bulk from a handful of Big Island sources.
Where to Get Big Isle Beef in Bulk
There are two meat harvesting plants on the Big Island and both sell beef in bulk: Kulana Foods in Hilo and Hawaii Beef Producers in Pa’auilo. Beef can be conveniently pre-ordered by sections: sides and front or hind quarters. Meat is sold by its hanging weight and there’s approximately a one-third loss of weight from cutting and trimming. Sides or halves, which average 300 pounds before cut up, contain meat from both the front and back of the animal. A side includes a little of everything the carcass has to offer: approximately 20 prime steaks, short ribs, roasts, stew meat, cube steaks, top round, chuck, about 80 pounds of ground beef and soup bones. You get about 200 pounds of actual meat from a 300-pound side.
Quarters average 150-170 pounds hanging weight. The front quarter includes rib and chuck cuts, plus brisket and stew meat. The hind quarter offers all the prime steaks and roasts, plus stew meat and ground beef. For info on where meat cuts come from off the carcass, check out our recent blog, Know the Basics of Beef Cuts | Taste It.
Team Up to Get a Share
If the amount of meat seems daunting when buying in bulk-team up with another family to purchase a share of the beef. Both harvesting plants also sell smaller, custom beef orders, such as steaks and roasts. While Kahua Ranch in Kohala doesn’t sell the larger sides or quarters of beef, it sells specific meat cuts in bulk, including lamb.
Big Island Grass-Fed Beef Sources
- Hawaii Beef Producers, 776-1109 or JJ Meat Market, 775-7744
- Kulana Foods, 959-9144
- Kahua Ranch, 882-4646
Join a CSA
If you want to commit to purchasing locally produced food for a period of time and are game for trying new foods, get a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm. A CSA is a win-win for both the farmer and the consumer.
Here’s how it works: You pay up front, which helps the farmer with “seed” money to finance early-season costs. In addition the farmer is ensured a reliable customer base and can spend less time marketing his food and more time growing it.
In exchange, you get farm-fresh produce each week at harvest-veggies, fruit and herbs. Typically, your box of food is dropped off at a central location or you might pick it up at the farm. If you work at a large business, you and your fellow employees could ask for a workplace drop-off.
With a CSA, you are basically buying a “share” or subscription to the farmer’s food. Before you commit, ask the farmer what kind of produce to expect and be prepared to try food you’re not familiar with, such as beets and varied greens. Food is typically delivered in a box and is super-fresh, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits. Similar to a farmers market, a CSA enables consumers to meet the people who are growing their food.
Big Island CSAs
For a list of CSAs (and Farmers Markets) on the Big Island, visit the Hawai’i Homegrown Food Network. The CSAs are divided by island area and listed after the farmers markets. Farmers markets are also a great place to ask about the availability of local CSAs. Market vendors who aren’t dedicated CSAs may also be willing to sell you certain produce each week-just ask.