It sounds so great: Local food sold directly from producer to consumer just like in the good old days. Simple, right?
Ever tried to read government regulations at the federal, state, county and city levels just to figure out if you can sell a chicken to your neighbor? And if you sell a chicken how it must be labeled??? It gave me a headache and even after talking to those in the government who are there to interpret the regulations…I still wonder if anyone knows what is legal! Not simple.
We live in Idaho where big game hunting, bird hunting and fishing are common. Opening day is a holiday. Most of us have seen a fish gutted. We can name the local butchers and may even have a favorite who makes the best venison pepperoni or has a favorite sausage recipe. I trust these local businessmen to provide us with safely prepared meat as I am sure that many of you do.
I understand the need for food safety regulations. Food poisoning can be painful and fatal AND humane treatment of animals is top on our list of priorities. Here is what the regulations say about how we can sell our local meat and poultry to our local consumers:
· If we sell a LIVE animal – We can deliver it to a butcher of the buyer’s choice.
· Any products that are packaged for individual sale must be butchered at USDA inspected facilities.
Why do I make the designation between live animals and products packaged for individual sale? Because of the difference in USDA inspected facilities. Our local butchers are not inspected to package meat for individual sale. This is NOT a bad thing. Inspection does not make you a better butcher or indicate your facility is cleaner. Clean facilities and good butchers are determined by the pride and passion that a business has for their products. There are waiting lists for our local butchers!
For the past couple years, we have used the local butchers and sold live animals to local consumers. This has worked well. We have sold out of pigs every year and already have most of the 2015 production spoken for. It has also limited us. None of the local facilities process poultry and we haven’t had many takers on picking up live chickens and turkeys!
In 2015, we are taking the livestock on the road. Caldwell and Blackfoot have USDA inspected facilities where our livestock can be processed for individual sale. This will allow you to pick up whole chickens and turkeys ready for the oven and also to purchase beef by the pound and cut. We will continue to support our local butchers if you are interested in purchasing a half or whole beef.
Continue checking back to see when our first individual cuts are available!