Beacon Hill Family Hosts Buying Club for Grass Fed Meats
As interest grows nationally toward eating locally-raised, hormone-free meats, one local Beacon Hill family has decided to make it a little easier for their neighbors to do just that.
Stephanie Cameron recently formed a “Neighborhood Meat-Buying Club,” so she and others living on Beacon Hill can receive monthly deliveries of grass-fed beef, pork and lamb from Thundering Hooves Ranch in Walla Walla. Once each month on a Saturday morning, a dozen or so families meet in front of her home to pick up their orders from Thundering Hooves, whose website allows customers to order anything from pork chops to hickory-smoked bacon to T-bone steaks. The truck arrives at a given time with customized bags of pre-ordered meats for everyone.
“We have really enjoyed watching the growth of these buying clubs,” said Thundering Hooves co-owner Keith Swanson, who makes the monthly deliveries. “These families have been very enthusiastic about our meats and the word seems to be spreading. You get a real sense of community,” he added. “I especially enjoy seeing people who actually live in the same neighborhood but are just meeting each other for the first time – and who then proceed to share their recipes and meat cooking tips like they were old friends.”
Swanson said that there are now 24 such buying clubs in the Puget Sound region, each one hosted by a family committed to supporting the growth of local and sustainably-raised foods. “We used to sit at a farmers market all day in Seattle and make our customers come to us,” he said. “One day it occurred to us that we could find a lot more customers if we would take our meats to them in their own neighborhoods.”
“As more and more people learn about the benefits of grass-fed meats, as compared to the corn-fed alternative at the grocery store,” Swanson said, “our farm business has really taken off. Grass-fed beef has more Omega-3s and a lot less of the saturated fats,” said Swanson. “Plus, it has a richer flavor,” Swanson added, “so it tastes the way that beef is supposed to taste. We have older customers who tell us our meats taste the way they remember meat tasting from when they were growing up. That’s fun to hear.”
“To order, people don’t actually have to join anything,” said Swanson. “They can just go on our website, choose a delivery location, place their order, and come pick it up. It’s that simple.” Swanson added, “We let customers pay by cash or check at the delivery site, so they don’t have to put their credit card info online.”
Thundering Hooves is a fourth-generation family farm in the Walla Walla Valley that partners with other local ranchers to produce meats that are 100% grass-fed, hormone-free, and raised, according to Swanson, “as nature intended.” They also run their own small USDA meat shop, so all of their products are processed by Thundering Hooves. Their website, www.thunderinghooves.net, shows how to place orders and where to pick them up.