BRADENTON, Fla. - Beef may be what's for dinner but for a growing number of families, the type and quantity of beef they're buying is changing. The grass-fed beef movement is gaining in popularity all over the country and it's giving a new meaning to buying in bulk.
Longtime cattle owner Lee Sly started doing things a little differently with his cows 25 years ago.
"The Lord put 'em here with four legs and a long neck and four stomachs to walk around and eat grass and to fertilize what they just got done eating," explained Lee. "They're perfect. Like everything the Lord did."
He didn't feed them grain to fatten them, he just let them graze on the natural Florida grass.
"My thinking is, if you produce an animal, that is close to being a wild animal as possible... it will thrive in its environment without any help from me, and it's healthy on its own, eating what the Lord put there for it to eat, and you eat it, it's healthy for you," Lee told WINK.
He's not alone in thinking that way. Over the years, studies have been done on grass-fed beef versus grain fed. A California State University study says grass-fed meat is not only leaner, but also is richer in omega-3 fatty acids, the good kind of fat your body needs.
And health-conscious families like the Markle's are taking notice.
"It's not something we considered until recently and truly it came about through our fitness," said Sarah Markle.
Since the arrival of daughter Lila, Sarah and Paul Markle say eating healthier is a priority and buying grass-fed beef in bulk is the way to go.
"You're probably going to pay $9 to $10 a pound at the store versus $3 to $4 a pound in bulk," Sarah explained. "Which is why this was such an easy decision for us to make."
The Markle's, along with another family, decided to split the cost of buying a whole cow from Amazin' Grazin' Beef in Bradenton. They each walked away with 175 pounds of grass-fed meat cut to order.
While it works for Sarah's growing family's needs, we wanted to know if people think she's crazy for buying all that meat.
"Some do. Some understand completely... but yeah, some people think we're completely nuts for doing it," she said.
And that's just fine for Lee Sly. It means the cattle he's raising can keep going to his loyal customers and not to some big corporation.
"That's the most important thing really in life is relationships. It's not money or anything on this earth because we carry them on with us forever, those relationships. I believe we're just-- this is just getting acquainted time right here."
While buying grass fed beef in bulk is cheaper than buying it in the store, it's still more expensive than buying grain fed beef. And if you buy in bulk be prepared to shell out all the money up front which could range anywhere from $200 to $600 or more depending on the size of the animal and if you share the cow with others.