Cow-Pooling: Buying Beef in Mega-Bulk

Friends and families are banding together to buy cheap, grass-fed meat directly from farmers. Side of beef, anyone?

Asia Kepka for TIME

Jean Edwards with the side of beef she bought in Vermont.

If you prefer to keep the image of meat — say, a juicy hamburger — safely separated from the image of an actual animal — say, a 1,200-lb. castrated bull — then cow-pooling is not for you. Jean Edwards is clearly not squeamish about knowing precisely where her steaks come from. In 2007, she and her husband James, a corrections officer in Vermont, went in with another family to buy a side of grass-fed beef directly from a farmer. The Edwardses wanted naturally raised meat but couldn't afford natural-food-store prices. Not only did cow-pooling prove to be cost-effective but also the...

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