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The GOOD 100: Cowpooling The GOOD 100: Cowpooling

The GOOD 100: Cowpooling

October 22, 2009

Share Your Meat with All Your Friends

Because buying in bulk is always better

­­ by Tamar Adler

Adler is the director of the Bay Area Meat CSA and Meatshare.org, which help hungry people buy wholesale meat directly from local farmers.

Optimizing a whole animal's value by buying all of its cuts isn't new—a half century ago, it was commonplace to buy a whole cow or pig from a neighbor and work your way through the meat over a course of a few months.

But cooperating with neighbors to absorb all of that meat in one shot-called "cowpooling," or meat sharing-is. Groups ranging in size from two to 20 people have begun sharing the burdens and the benefits of buying meat straight off the pasture. The groups contract with farmers for one whole animal, and split it up by the pound. The more people who are sharing an animal, the less meat each takes home: When 20 people buy one cow, each only ends up with 15 to 20 pounds.As people become more intent on verifying their food's sources, we predict they will rely more heavily on alternative buying mechanisms like community-supported agriculture and meat-sharing to create critical links between those who want good food and the people who produce it.To connect with neighbors interested in starting a local meat co-op, visit localharvest.org.

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