Grass Roots is a cooperative of small-scale family farmers on a mission to change the way meat is produced and consumed in the USA. We are proud to raise and process all our meat in America, with local farms ranging from Oregon to North Carolina.
A core part of our mission is to grow the next generation of farmers in America. This means providing a living wage and access to the materials needed to sustain their farms. The sad truth is that the family farm is dying out largely due to industrialization. – this has led to:
A reduction in the number of people working in farming (from 70% in 1840 to under 2% in 2000) (1)
The average age of a farmer rising to 59 with one-third of farmers aged over 65 (2)
A reduction in the number of farms in the USA, with 90,000 lost between 2007-2012 (3)
50% of farms in the USA making less than $10,000 a year (4)
66% of production coming from just 4% of farms across the country (4)
60% of poultry production in the USA comes from just 3 companies (5)
It has left consumers without knowledge about the vital role farmers’ play in not only feeding our nation but in working with nature to ensure a sustainable future for us all. This means consumer expectations aren’t aligned with what produces the highest-quality, sustainable food for generations to come.
We aim to inform consumers across the country about these vital topics and change the following misconceptions:
Confusion around seasonality of food - when meat is raised 100% outdoors on pasture, it is seasonal.
Lack of knowledge on raising whole animals and availability of cuts. There is a reason steak is expensive, it’s rare.
Misguided information on the process of raising livestock from birth to harvest. Chickens and pigs don’t only eat grass, they aren’t meant to. But cows and sheep do and should (although in most industrial feedlots they are fed grain).
Misunderstanding about the differences between factory farming and regenerative agriculture, and the impacts of both. Raising animals inside isn’t normal and it shouldn’t be considered acceptable for us or the animals.
How Grass Roots Farmers Are Changing Our Nation for the Better
Our Cooperative began in Northwest Arkansas, which is all the more interesting as it is the heartland of industrialized chicken farming - something we want to change. We started as first generation farmers, with lofty ideals and goals – we wanted to connect with the land and improve it, treat our animals with respect, feed our families and customers nutritious food and produce the highest quality product possible.
So we set out to prove it was possible to go back to regenerative farming, pay everyone in our chain a living wage, and encourage other farmers across the USA to join us. And it’s this point - paying everyone a living wage that we need to understand.
The industrialized farming model led to a situation where the people who actually grow and process your food are not paid a living wage. You can see it in the hard, cold stats. 50% of family farms make less than $10,000 a year. It’s not a viable way of life and it’s forcing the next generation to flee to make livings elsewhere. According to the USDA, the average industrial broiler chicken farmer gets paid $0.06 per pound.
A Grass Roots farmer receives $0.90 per pound. This amounts to two-thirds of the food dollar going back to our farmers. Earning more allows Grass Roots farmers to reach a living wage at a smaller scale, which is more environmentally responsible. Additionally, Grass Roots cash-flows a farmer’s major inputs, such as supplemental grain and livestock purchases, thus breaking down more barriers that beginning and scaling farmers face.
We also own and run our own processing plants in the United States. Workers in these plants are among the lowest paid in the nation. Little to no stability, hourly pay at such low rates they are among the unbanked. Owning our own plant means we can ensure the highest and most humane standards at every step in the process, and we pay our staff a living wage helping lift them out of poverty and providing a future for them and their families.
This fourth of July we want to celebrate our 100% American Cooperative and all of you who are supporting local farmers when you source from Grass Roots. Buying from Grass Roots helps our nation continue to prosper. It’s important to take a look and ask your suppliers where their meat comes from to ensure it is supporting the USA, keeping jobs and families afloat here, and raised with the highest quality standards for you and the animals.
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture (2012). Census of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2012/
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture (2012). Census of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2012/
3 Johansson, Robert, Mancino, Lisa, and Cooper, Joseph. “The Big Picture: Obesity, Consumpt, and Food Production.” Retrieved from https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/36682/PDF
4 Johansson, Robert, Mancino, Lisa, and Cooper, Joseph. “The Big Picture: Obesity, Consumpt, and Food Production.” Retrieved from https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/36682/PDF
6 Industry Today. (2011). “Major Disconnect: Americans and Their Food.” Retrieved from https://industrytoday.com/article/major-disconnect-americans-and-their-food/
This cozy and comforting Paleo chili recipe is filled with ground meat and a ton of veggies to keep you full and satisfied. It’s a Whole30-friendly chili and AIP-compliant, too, with no tomatoes and no beans.
For ground meats: I recommend bison, pork, or beef or a mix! (I used bison and pork).