Good news (or is it?): You can now get flash-frozen, 100% grass-fed beef delivered to your door.
If you had the opportunity to get a box of 15 to 20 meals'-worth of 100% grass-fed, pre-cut beef delivered to your door every month, would you?
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Mike Salguero, the owner of ButcherBox, is betting that you would. And judging from the 556 backers of his KickStarter project, which has raised (as of this morning) nearly $108,000, he might be right.
On his KickStarter page, Salguero claims that only 1% of the total beef produced in the U.S. is 100% grass-fed, and that it comes from farms that often don't have the means to market and distribute their products. His solution is to partner with the sources of grass-fed beef to bolster these businesses and make it possible for more Americans to eat 100% grass-fed cuts. (There are, of course, other ways to order high-quality beef online; Greensbury Market, for example, offers organic, grass-fed beef, as well as pork, chicken, and seafood.)
The meat from ButcherBox is flash frozen and individually packaged; the packages are separated into cardboard boxes based on cut on meat; the cardboard is put into a styrofoam box filled with dry ice. Those cardboard boxes can be kept in your freezer upon arrival. (And each box comes with recipes and tips for making the most of your package.)
A one-month kits costs $129, and since each box comes with 15 to 20 meals, that's between $6.45 and $8.60 per meal—significantly less than what you would pay for high-quality meat at the butcher. The first meat kits are expected to ship in November.
But while Michael Pollan has written about the health benefits of grass-fed beef and Marian Burros wrote about the taste benefits (in 2006!), is this subscription service really the best solution?
For people with limited access to high-quality meat, it might be. But consider the downsides, too: For one, there's the packaging and the energy costs: Each piece of meat is individually packaged, then placed in cardboard, then placed in styrofoam, then surrounded by dry ice, then packed into yet another box, and then shipped a great distance.
Next, there's the reality that your business to ButcherBox might be diverting funds from local farms; when you use a site like LocalHarvest.org to find closer-to-home sources of high-quality meat, you are creating the demand that keeps local farms afloat.
And lastly, you're losing the experience of going to the butcher, interacting with local business people and experts. It's something to keep in mind as subscription services continue to proliferate. ButcherBox asks us to "Think of [them] as the neighborhood butcher for modern America." Do we really want our neighborhood butchers, already so scarce, mailed to us?
If you wouldn't be excited to receive a box of frozen meat in the mail, don't worry! There are other options for just as quirky subscription services:
Cake of the Month Club: For $29.99, you can receive one gourmet cake per month. The subscription "features a sinful selection of truly exquisite cakes from notable bakers around the country."
The Ramen Box: It comes with 6 to 8 "carefully curated" packages of sealed ramen. All items are kept secret until they are delivered: "Don't worry, we will not send you the ten-cent ramen. It's the good stuff."
The Bombay Box: Each month, you'll receive up to 7 sweet and savory Indian snacks celebrating a different Indian holiday or tradition.
Would you subscribe to a meat box? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.