Over the past twenty years, how and where we buy our meat has become a political statement. Are you shopping at the local grocery store or a mega-sized wholesaler? Do you visit an actual butcher? What are the precise meanings of organic, grass-fed, free range and the other qualifiers you’ll see under the glass of the butcher’s counter? There are a lot of factors to consider, but for those looking to purchase high-quality and humanely raised beef, there’s now a very transparent and convenient option, Crowd Cow.
The Seattle-based startup, founded in 2016, works with local Washington farms to source whole cows that are then available for sale on their website on a cut-by-cut basis. Each customer purchases shares of a cow, and in doing so becomes a “steakholder.” Then, once enough shares of a specific cow are purchased, the cow “tips,” and the sale comes to a close. After the cow tips, steakholders then receive their beef within a week or so.
While Crowd Cow is aimed at solving a problem for consumers, it's not just customers that are benefitting. Crowd Cow also empowers their farmers by removing any flash or superfluous branding from what consumers receive in the mail, so the focus is squarely on the product. As Scott Meyers, a Lopez Island farmer who uses Crowd Cow to sell the Wagyu beef that he produces on his Washington ranch, says, “They’re transparent — they sell our product as our product.”
Crowd Cow currently delivers overnight to the West Coast and Southwest, but as demand increases, the company plans to expand to the East Coast as well. Although Crowd Cow isn’t the first company to offer straight-from-the-farm beef, they are aiming to simplify the market and reduce the costs for both producers and consumers, two steps that could take Crowd Cow's philosophy from the food culture fringes into the mainstream.