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Downtown Meat Locker makes buying local easier

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Downtown Meat Locker makes buying local easier
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With more people leaning toward local, organic food, a grassroots project in Ithaca is making buying farm-fresh meats a whole lot easier. Tamara Lindstrom tells us how.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's a barrier to buying local that farmers hear all the time.

"We prefer to sell everything in bulk if we could. But one of the real limitations is freezer space. People don't have what they used to," said Will Shonfeld of Finger Lakes Natural Beef.

But a new effort aims to make buying local goods easier.

A meat locker, centrally located downtown, will keep products fresh for the customer.

"If you wanted to go out and buy a quarter of a cow, which is about 100 pounds of meat. It would feed a family of four for about a year," explained Matt LeRoux, Agriculture Marketing Specialist at Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension. "You would have to spend $400 to $500 to get the beef, and then the additional cost of a freezer, which would range from $200 to $500. So we're going to get that $200 to $500 cost out of your hair and then help you find a farmer that works for you."

"There are a lot of folks who eat meat, but they don't want to eat meat that they don't trust. And they don't want meat that's traveled for days or is non-organic," said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. "This is going to allow them to not only eat meat that they trust but to support their local farmers."

The freezer has space for 70 bins and about half of those slots are already spoken for. Organizers say they might just have to expand.

"If there's a big waitlist, we'll probably pursue the idea of building a second freezer somewhere else in Ithaca, so that it's really neighborhood oriented," LeRoux said.

Storage bins cost $3 to $5 a month, depending on the size.

The meat locker will be open and staffed two days a week, allowing customers to pick up their meat.

"I look at this as a great opportunity to expand sales, but really to expand people's purchase and use of local products for everybody," Schonfeld said.

Making sales easier for farmers, as well as shoppers.

The Ithaca meat locker opens at the end of the month. A second Meat Locker is planned for Corning. Vegetables and game will also be accepted.

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