Larkin Schmiedl's Blog

Journalist at work

Meat on campus: a microcosm

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Local meat without added hormones or antibiotics is what the people want to buy, but it’s not always what’s cost-effective.

Jason Cochran is a faculty member in the Retail Meat Processing program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).  He handles most of the meat ordering for the program, as well as for the neighbouring Culinary Arts program.

The program runs the Meat Store, which is open every Thursday on campus to sell the cuts of meat the students have made.

The customers want local meat, Cochran said, and so that’s what’s in the store, but, “the local beef actually costs me more than the feedlot beef.”  It comes from a ranch just north of Barriere.

The beef the culinary arts program uses on the other hand almost all comes as boxed beef, and it’s from a slaughterhouse in Alberta.

It’s feedlot beef, Cochran told me, and there’s a 99 per cent certainty the animal has been fed hormones and antibiotics throughout its life.

When you buy boxed beef, he said, it could be from three or four animals from anywhere in Alberta or even B.C. mixed up together.  The majority of B.C. beef, he told me, is shipped to Alberta to be slaughtered.

There are two local provincially-inspected slaughterhouses according to Cochran however.  One is called Kam Lake View Meats, and is located in Kamloops.  The other is Rainer Meats and is situated north of Barriere.

Cochran said local beef can be difficult to source because he needs a consistent source of meat.  He also listed the need to trust the supplier and to have a relationship with them as concerns.

The majority of the beef comes into the meat cutting program in the fall he said.

In a typical program year, Cochran will order 15 to 16 cows, which will cost approximately $40,000 altogether.  This would make each cow approximately $2,500.

The two other main types of meat in the Meat Store are chicken and pork.  Each come from a different slaughterhouse in the Lower Mainland.

The chicken is entirely hormone and antibiotic-free, whereas the pork gets one treatment of antibiotics in its lifetime.

Besides operating the Meat Store, the retail meat processing program also sells sides of beef, bulk chicken, does customer orders, and processes meat for both hunters and some local farmers.

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