We all love an underdog story. David versus Goliath. In the world of beef it shouldn't be any different. Turns out in the world of ranching, dominated by massive international conglomerates, there are reasons why small family-owned ranches are better for the animals and produce healthier meat.
The benefits could be summed up as; local sourcing, sustainable ranching, and transparent practicing.
Let's talk about local sourcing. This means that the food produced on these ranches is grown and raised in the same area where it is sold, rather than being shipped in from faraway places. This has two major benefits. First, it helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the food, as it requires less transportation. And second, it also helps to support the local economy, as money spent on locally sourced food is more likely to stay in the community.
What about sustainable ranching? Many small ranches, like Windy Ridge, focus on sustainable ranching practices. This means that they are operated in a way that is environmentally friendly and that takes into account the long-term health of the land. Our cattle are pasture raised rather than on a feedlot so we have to make sure to take care of the land we're ranching on. We can't just truck more food into a feedlot. This can include practices such as rotating crops, conserving water, and minimizing the use of pesticides and other chemicals. By choosing to support small, family-owned ranches, consumers can feel good about the impact their food choices are having on the environment.
Smaller, family-run ranches can also be more transparent about how their animals are raised and treated. For our customers who are concerned about the welfare of the animals they are eating, or about the environmental impact of their food choices this is especially important. We'd love to have you stop by, meet us, see the animals, and learn about our practices firsthand.
And a bonus benefit - family-owned ranches often have a high level of animal stewardship. These ranches are typically run by people who have a deep connection to the animals in their care and are committed to treating them with respect and kindness. At Windy Ridge, we are only raising as many as 60 cows at a time. That means that I know each animal and it knows me, unlike massive companies with thousands of animals. Because of that, I'm very inclined to provide the animals with a high-quality diet and ample space to roam. By choosing to support small, family-owned ranches, consumers can feel confident that the animals they are eating were treated well throughout their lives.
Despite the many benefits of small, local ranches we do face many challenges. We're facing greater competition from massive organizations that benefit from economies of scale. We can also miss out on some of the government benefits given to larger organizations.
We're not whiners though and will keep pushing on.
By choosing to support Windy Ridge Cattle you can help to ensure that small, local ranches remain a viable part of our food landscape. Whether it is through purchasing our products, spreading the word about our work, or advocating for policies that support small, family-owned ranches, there are many ways that you can make a difference.