Philadelphia CowShare and the Swarthmore Co-op

The Swarthmore Co-op has recently partnered with Philadelphia CowShare

Philadelphia CowShare provides GRASS-FED, ABH-FREE, LOCAL beef to the Swarthmore Co-op.  Our upcoming “Burgers and Fries:  The Sustainable Way” event on January 20th, where we will be grilling burgers and cooking french fries for a cost of $8 for Members and $10 for Future/Non-Members, will be fulfilled by the use of beef exclusively from Philadelphia CowShare. (Stop by the Co-op now until the 20th to purchase your ticket for this event.)

At the Co-op, we believe in using locally sourced products that are made using humane and natural methods.  Philadelphia CowShare has provided us with a unique opportunity to provide beef in our store that is produced and prepared in a way in which we truly believe and can stand confidently behind.

What are CowShares?

A Philadelphia CowShare is a way for individual customers to buy high quality, local, grass-fed beef in bulk by splitting the purchase of a cow with other people.

By buying a CowShare, you can:

  • Receive High Quality Grass-fed Beef
  • Simplify Meal Planning
  • Support Local Farmers and Butchers

About Philadelphia CowShare’s Cows

They select cows from local farms near Philadelphia in Lancaster, Chester, Delaware, and Mercer counties. They personally visit each farm and talk with the farmer to guarantee the cows are grass-fed and free of growth hormones and antibiotics. They also require the farm to follow sustainable, organic farming practices, but do not require the USDA organic certification.

Cows are an essential part of a sustainable farming ecosystem. Cows keep the hills mowed and fertilize the land. Philly CowShare prefers to purchase cows that are part of a healthy farming ecosystem. They believe in rewarding and supporting the farmers who create a sustainable farming ecosystem. Philadelphia CowShare offers them an income source from their cows and gives you an opportunity to purchase high quality, local beef.

Once they all agree on the goal of doing business together, they have a checklist they run through that includes:

Cattle practices:

  • Cattle have been raised on pasture with minimal confinement as needed to care for the land (i.e. snowy months) and animals (i.e. weight checks, vaccinations, sorting, transport, etc.).
  • Cattle’s diet consists of natural grasses, legumes, alfalfa and/or range farm/forage. No supplemental grains or grain-based manufactured ration, reprocessed animal tissue, animal by-products, fecal material, food waste or by-products are allowed at any time. Minimal supplements are allowed.
  • Cattle are fed hay made from the same plants found naturally on pasture, preferably from the same pasture the animals graze during the growing season.
  • Cattle have access to fresh water at all times.
  • Cattle have access to shelter during inclement weather.
  • Calves should be kept with their mothers after birth and weaned when they are capable of growing on a grass-fed diet without their mother’s milk.
  • No synthetic hormones, growth promotants, or steroids are given to the animals at any time in their life.
  • No preventative antibiotics or other medications are allowed with the exception of those required by the USDA (e.g. 5-way virus vaccine).
  • The farm must be managed to promote healthy animals including rotational grazing, vaccination, and low stress handling.
  • Cattle should be medicated to treat illness or injury in order to minimize suffering or death. If an animal is visibly ill, it should be separated from the herd to minimize the spread of the ailment and should be treated immediately. If antibiotics or other medications are used as part of the treatment of a Philadelphia CowShare animal, the farmer must notify Philadelphia CowShare immediately. Philadelphia CowShare will not purchase animals that have had antibiotics or other medication administered into or passed through the blood stream that may result in medication residue in the meat.

Land practices:

  • The land should be managed to promote continual forage growth without the assistance of chemical herbicides or pesticides.
  • Fertilization techniques should reuse organic by-products from the farm such as cow and poultry manure.
  • Increasing the nitrogen levels in the land is the most difficult aspect of cattle farming. Nitrogen fertilizers are allowed as needed provided they are closely monitored and administered to increase the organic matter in the soil and do not impose health risks to the animals.
  • Farmers should test the nutrients of the soil and supplement with minerals where needed to promote healthy top soil and forage.

What is dry-aged beef?

Dry-aged beef is beef that has been hung in a cool, clean, climate-controlled environment for a period of time. Dry-aging beef intensifies the flavor and tenderizes the beef. Enzymes break down the muscle and connective tissue in the beef and make it more tender and flavorful. All our beef is dry-aged for at least 14 days.

Why is dry-aged beef more expensive?

Dry-aged beef is more expensive than wet-aged or non-aged beef for three reasons. First, a meat processor must have an environment suitable for dry aging. Second, the process simply takes longer. Finally, the meat loses moisture or weight during the process. Our beef can lose 10% of the weight over 2 weeks.

Beef that is wet-aged is vacuum-sealed in plastic and typically aged during transit. Because it is aged in its own juices, more moisture is absorbed by the beef resulting in less weight loss. When you buy beef by the pound, you are paying for the moisture that was retained in the beef during the wet-aging process. With dry-aged beef, you are paying for a more intense flavor of beef and less liquid. Most beef sold in supermarkets is wet-aged or not aged at all.

For more information visit:  www.phillycowshare.com

For an interview of the CowShare peeps:  Click Here

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