A recent visit to Reber Rock Farm in Essex, NY.
What makes Walden Local Meat local? As a savvy consumer in 2019, we are right to dismiss a lot of descriptive terms from food purveyors and on food packaging as simply marketing at best and, at worst, as mealymouthed half-truths meant to confuse or mislead us (see: “all natural” or “access to the outdoors”). There’s so much to think about, from cost to environmental impact to health concerns, it seems like conscientious shopping has never been more time consuming. At Walden, we put a lot of stock into our local identity—being an agent for positive change in New York and New England’s agricultural economy is one of the primary reasons we come to work each morning! But local for us extends beyond the regional economic outlook. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways we define local that we think make a big impact not only on the environment and our communities, but also on you, as a member.
Local means accountability for our product
We visit our farms. All the time. We vet our farmers carefully: interviewing them, and requiring them to sign affidavits ensuring the quality of their meat. We also “trust but verify” with unannounced visits. Kristen, our supply chain director, and Steve, our beef quality program manager, can tell you all about our farmers! From New York to Maine, Kristen and Steve travel to Walden farms making sure you get high-quality, great-tasting meat that’s raised outdoors on pasture, free of antibiotics or hormones. When it comes to backing up our claims, Kristen and Steve do the legwork so our members don’t have to. Local for Walden members means you have a relationship to your farmers, as well. Many of our members have told us how reassuring it is to know that the source of their food is accessible to them, because the farmer’s name appears right on the label.
At Walden, we deliver your shares right to your doorstep ourselves.
We deliver to you ourselves
It’s not easy to deliver your own food. Heck, even restaurants hire a company to deliver their burritos and hamburgers so they don’t have to worry about it. At Walden, we are the last people to touch the bag containing your share before you do. We find that eliminates a lot of the error. But, we’re human, too, and sometimes things do go wrong. However, being local allows us to fix a misplaced order or a missing add-on quicker and more efficiently than if there was someone else doing the delivery for us. Vicki Garino’s Google Review comment of Walden Local Meat exemplifies this point: “No company is perfect, and errors happen, but when they do the customer service is top notch and they make it right immediately. I recommend this company highly!”
Our farmers contribute to the local economy, too
Local farmers create local jobs. Local farmers purchase equipment, feed, and supplies from local stores. Our farmers earn a livable wage, because it’s important to us. In fact, many of our farmers are able to make a living because they can count on Walden to take a certain number of cows or pigs each month. Ask Jonathan, or Jim, or Ike. Partnering with Walden means farmers can spend time doing what they do best—instead of marketing and selling and finding buyers in the few hours a month they aren’t working their fields or crunching their ledgers.
But it’s not just our farmers, Walden members are also helping out their local economy. By participating in our share program, our members’ money has three times the local return a chain grocery store purchase would have had. Think of it this way: $100 spent in an independent local retailer generated $45 in secondary spending, compared to $14 for a big box chain. This secondary spending fuels other local retailers, their payrolls, schools, charities, town budgets, and everything in between. Spending locally is particularly important in agriculture, where farmers generally only receive about $0.17 of your food dollar.
[Read more on why local matters here.]
Local means our carbon footprint is smaller
And then there is the reduction of the last-mile impact. The last mile in a supply chain, which ends with you or me actually getting the product they will consume to their door, is notorious for being the worst for the environment. Recent reports suggest that consumers who travel more than around 4 miles round trip to the grocery store are likely to emit more harmful carbon than the net emissions from the cold storage, packing, and final delivery of a similar purchase via a delivery service with much denser routes.
Because we deliver ourselves, we also reuse our delivery bags, rather than using cardboard boxes. Re-use comes before recycle! Local products mean less travel, as well. When you get meat that was grown within your very foodshed, meat delivered to you by the same people that sold it to you, you are lowering your impact environmentally.
At Walden, the bottomline is this: We raise animals within the New York and New England foodshed, one that is particularly well suited to grow grass. We believe it makes us better: Better for the economy, the environment, and better for our members. If you have any questions about how Walden works and what our beliefs are, please reach out to us at