Buying good quality meat can be very expensive. But ‘meat shares’ - clubbing together to buy a whole cow or sheep directly from the farmer - can be a cost effective solution, provided you have the storage space.
Meat community-supported agriculture schemes are growing in popularity in the US. However many apartment dwellers face the issue of how to store bulk purchases of meat with only limited freezer space. Inspired by a system popular in the 1940s, Matt LeRoux, an agricultural marketing specialist, launched the Meat Locker Project, a pilot scheme aiming to provide a community solution to the storage problem.
The Meat Lockers, established in Ithaca and Corning, NYC are walk-in freezers in which consumers can use to store their bulk purchases. The space can be used by around 100 members, each paying a fee of between $3 to $5 a month for storage.
Through the use of a shared economy model to purchasing meat, the concept of a Meat Locker can promote local meat at affordable prices, whilst preserving small farm viability. Meat is purchased directly from the farmers, removing additional cost associated with the middle men in supermarket supply chains.
Centralised freezers are also more energy efficient. As Le Roux notes, one of his motivations was realising that one 10 ft by 14 ft freezer would be more energy efficient that 100 small home freezers running at the same time.
Could the Meat Locker concept make meat more accessible for low income urban populations?
NPR (September 22, 2015) A Carnivore’s Solution to Space Constraints: The Meat Locker
Indigogo (April, 4 2014) Finger Lakes Meat Project
Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County (May 19, 2015) The Meat Locker Project