A Walden Local Meat delivery every month is a good surprise to look forward to!


I received my first share from Walden Local Meat some four or five years ago. I had requested the package get dropped by the Walden delivery person on my back porch, so when I came home from work that night, I made a beeline to the backyard to see if it was there.

There was the mysterious brown insulated bag with the company logo, right where I asked it be left, zipped up with a tag with my name written across it. I brought it into the kitchen and set it on the counter and unzipped it. One by one, I took out each item, examined it, and set it out on the counter: chicken breasts, ground beef, country-style ribs, lamb chops, a cookbook binder, a recipe card, dry ice. Having never been a part of a food delivery program, I had no idea what to expect. The portion and share size, and the types of meat I selected were a foggy memory from when I set up my Walden account, and I have to admit, I was excited to unveil each item and examine it before moving onto the next. The surprise element was fun, and still is. This moment is what we at Walden call “Meat Christmas.”

Walden’s whole animal philosophy is behind the surprise. We don’t like to waste anything, and as a result, we evenly distribute all cuts across our entire member base. Of course, you can specify if there’s anything you absolutely don’t want to receive. You can also choose a custom share that allows you even more control over what you get each month by selecting only the cuts of meat you like. Then there is the offal—or organ meat—that you can purchase separately. In this fashion Walden can build fair, economical shares with a variety of great tasting, pasture-raised meat. With a surprise element baked in.

Having spoken with dozens of members since, I realized that when it came to looking forward to the surprise of delivery day, I wasn’t alone. In fact an overwhelming majority of the members I’ve spoken with have said they’d much rather continue to be surprised than know exactly what they will get month in and month out. Some people like the challenge of finding interesting and tasty ways to cook something new. Others just like how it breaks up the day—from work calendar meetings and appointments to soccer and basketball practices at home—it’s nice to have something in the middle that hasn’t been scheduled to death.

These days—with online shopping, GPS, and Spotify—we have much more agency over our choices. For the most part, this is a good thing. With so many demands upon our time, we generally don’t have time to deal with surprises, so we find the best route from Point A to Point B and disregard the unplanned roadside attractions. Our sense of surprise comes mostly from bad things: botched pizza deliveries or jury duty. Most good surprises are casualties to efficiency.

But efficiency and happiness aren’t always aligned. Sometimes we sacrifice happiness for efficiency without even knowing it. A text is more efficient than a face-to-face conversation, or a mailed letter from a friend. And most of the time, efficiency is what we need, even if it precludes the thrill of discovery or the reward of working within our means. Good surprises are little moments, for sure, but they are being engineered to happen less. They don’t come with the same anxiety that comes with planning or the vague dissatisfaction that comes with not knowing if we made the right choice, given our options and considering all the variables. They make fortune cookies and playoff games fun. They are a five dollar bill in an old coat pocket, a chance encounter with a long-lost friend from high school, a new “keeper” recipe starring a previously unfamiliar cut of meat.

I think that’s why I still love not knowing exactly what I’m going to get from Walden each month. If I need a specific cut for a meal I’m planning, I know I can add it from the monthly specials when it’s available. Otherwise, when it comes to what I’m going to get in my share: surprise me!