Stems and All

My journey to buy less, consume smart, use what's there.

My quest to own a cow (or at least part of one)


I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of ‘buying a cow’, or at least part of one. Cow-sharing is something old made new again, and it has lots of upside.

– It puts the consumers of the meat more directly in touch with the people who raised the meat.
– It’s the idea that one cow can support many households with meat and nutrition.
– And it ultimately allows consumers to buy more directly from local farmers, putting people closer to the land.

I support all of this, yet it all seems a bit intimidating, especially given the modest size of our freezer (i.e., not much larger than a breadbox).

An experience at last weeks Farmers Market put me over the edge….

cow in pasture

Cow representative from ‘cow-sharing’ program

I noticed a new stand at the local Sunday Market for “True Grass Farms” ( in nearby Valley Ford, California (about 65 miles north west of our house in Oakland). They raise cattle, pork and fowl, and the flyer on the table indicated that they also do cow-sharing. Mother load.

The man behind the stand was super helpful, explaining that they have a variety of ‘share packages’ to choose from, depending on how much meat we wanted.

“Will we end up with odd cow-parts?”, I asked warily, imagining hooves and strange organs and innards. None of these were in my normal recipe rotation, and not sure I was ready to be that adventurous. He chuckled.

“Nope – not if you don’t want them”, he assured me.

I was intrigued. I went home, flyer in hand, and looked them up. Sure enough, they had several cow-sharing options available for purchase. The range was buying “The Whole Cow”, which consisted of 350 lbs of meat and cost $4,999 ($14.29 per pound) to “Primal Provision” or 1/4 of the cow, which nets 88 lbs and set you back $1,250 (also about $14.20 per pound) to “The Urban Share”, or 1/16th of a cow, which was 22 lbs of meat for $315 (or $14.32 per pound). While “The Urban Share” was technically the least economical from a cost per pound standpoint, it did save us from having to go out and purchase a larger freezer, so made the most sense for our household.

As a bonus part of the package, we will get to attend an upcoming Harvest Festival at the actual ranch, where we’ll pick up our “Urban Share” portion, and meet other ‘parents’ of the shared cow, as well as the farmers who raised – and slaughtered – her.

And who knows – while we’re at the farm, perhaps we’ll ‘meet’ other livestock that may eventually find its way into our freezer…

Now this is making me feel connected to the land!

Side Note…
I have a ‘next gen’ local food trend prediction: There will be a farm somewhere in Northern California that will allow guests to come to the farm, help in the slaughter of an animal or two and then there will be a feast later in the day. Not sure I’ll be first in line for that, but I do find it intriguing.

Author: Jane Newcomb

“Stems and All” is my personal journey to become a more environmentally responsible human, live a more sustainable life, and practice sustainable consuming habits.

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