When the Focus is on a new and more sustainable way of living, we ask if the consumption of local meat is better for the environment overall or not?
The meat world has changed significantly over the last decade and even more significantly during the previous 20 months.
We have become acutely aware that local meat is better for the environment, and this has been highlighted by its sustainability surrounding the supply of produce during a global crisis.
While supermarkets were running dry of international meat stocks (amongst other things!), butchers and farm shops thrived under challenging circumstances.
The COVID pandemic, specifically, has made all areas of living really difficult to execute, and a considerable focus has been placed on utilising local resources to make sure that you and your family have everything you needed when restrictions meant that the pandemic had forcibly removed some areas of the sourcing equation.
So when it comes down to weighing up whether buying local meat is better for the environment, we actually need to know what “local” is, first!
What Actually Is Local?
When we are talking local, is it a universal meaning? And what exactly is meant by the term “local”?
Well, it’s actually a personal thing to determine, which makes it really difficult to ascertain the answer to the question of what is local.
Regarding the environmental effects of meat sourcing, we are confident enough to say that local is determined by the least amount of immediate impact on the environment that gets your meat from field to fork, which seems like a logical conclusion to come to, right?
How Does The Environment Benefit From Buying Local Meat?
Everyone is more than aware that you can actually buy meat from most places.
However, local beef will have taken a very different journey to that of, say, a supermarket steak.
Let’s have a look at a few ways that buying local meat can help the environment:
Local Means a Low Carbon Footprint
When you buy local meat, you are purchasing a product that has not travelled too far. Local may mean that the animal potentially lived in a field nearby, was slaughtered at the nearest facility, and the final products were taken to local outlets for purchase.
The carbon footprint concerning “Food Miles” is a huge consideration when talking about environmental impact. The lower the food miles are per product, the better it is for the environment.
Local Meat Is Produced in Smaller Quantities
Local meat production can often be conducted on a much smaller scale than meat designed to be sold for consumption in bulk.
By producing meat in smaller quantities for the exclusive sale in butchers, farm shops, and local outlets means there is:
- Less impact on the environment in regards to air pollution relating to less processing
- Less chemical pollution as the meat is produced in smaller quantities
- Less traffic pollution as there were will not be as many commercial vehicles moving different elements around
Of course, this is all in comparison to places that handle meat production on a colossal scale for huge supermarket chains or international purposes.
Local Meat Takes Less Input to Produce
Again, we can only compare local meat production to that of meat produced for mass consumption, and local meat will often take less environmental input to produce.
Here, you will need less feed for the smaller quantities of animals and less water for them too. Most, but not all, local meat is reared in kinder circumstances than that of animals raised in intensive farming situations.
So it is likely that a lot of their natural feeding behaviours will remain, which will also mean there is less of a need for bought food and water.
We can also stretch this to include electricity and manpower input.
Given these factors, we can already see that the environmental impacts of local meat can be lower than their mass-produced or factory-farmed equivalents, for example.
How to Buy Local Meat
There are some fantastic places out there to buy your local meat, and they are the best places to find the quality you should be looking for and ensure that you are buying meat that has a more positive impact on the environment we live in globally.
For the best local meat, head for:
- Local farm Shops
- Farmers and Produce Markets
- Markets and Independent Local Shops
You can also contact a lot of local meat producers online, and they may have local meat hampers and special offers available for delivery, but obviously, this will vary all over the country.
Is All Local Meat Higher Welfare?
This question of is local meat is higher welfare can be a little misleading.
You would assume that local meat is higher welfare; however, if you live next to a factory farm that intensively produces meat, the answer to this specific question may well be no!
All local meat producers who produce their meat on a smaller-than-mass-production scale, who: either know about the entire welfare of the animal and its living conditions, have an active hand in rearing the animal themselves and those local meat producers that produce the meat as humanely, and as eco-consciously as possible are the meat producers you need to look out for and start using.
If the animal has been cared for correctly, is well exercised, calm, and has access to the complete nutrients they need to thrive, then you will have a great meat product at the other end to savour and enjoy.
In this respect, quality of life really does equate to quality on your plate.
The Environmentally Meaty Bottom Line
It is safe to assume that local meat is much more beneficial for the environment when pitted against its mass-produced counterparts.
The definition of local can be a bone of contention for people who have differing ideas of what local means to them, but in respect of local meat, we mean “local” with meat that has taken the shortest journey possible from field to fork.
Locally produced meat can require less environmental input than factory farming, for instance, while also giving out fewer pollutants to the environment. This is due to everything potentially being carried out on a smaller scale.
So, in conclusion, we would say that local meat production is kinder to the environment, kinder to the animal, and kinder to the consumer.
So next time you are about to buy meat, head to a butcher or farm shop to get the very best meat available, in every respect.