"Crowdbutching" to promote "fair" beef

A new form of group buying is emerging in Flanders: crowdbutching. If enough people are interested to buy a piece of a cow, then the animal is slaughtered and the beef is delivered at the people's homes. This is according to a press release by those launching the initiative, deeleenkoe.be. The aim is to guarantee consumers that the meat has not been tampered with.

David De Keyser explains how the system works: "Together with others, you buy a part of a cow. A couple of days later, you can get a meat package delivered at home."

The beef is sold in packages of 10 kilograms, each of which containing different types of meat: roastbeef, rump steak, entrecote, stew, hamburgers, minced meat, américain, soup meat and top-quality steak of first and second choice. Each cow yields 30 to 35 of these packages. When the last person had added his purchase, then the cow is butchered.

David De Keyser claims the initiative has been launched to promote fair trade and sustainable consumption. "We cooperate with a cattle farm in Wingene (West Flanders). Consumers and potential buyers can visit the place and see how the animal is raised."

An increasing number of people are aware of the impact of meat consumption on the environment and realise we have to find a sustainable way of producing beef, De Keyser argues. However, the main aim to guarantee buyers "clean" meat that has not been tampered with.

"The animals get feed that has not been manipulated. The meat has not been treated, no water has been added, it's free of antibiotics and other products. Animals have one day to get used to the new situation before they are butchered."