As a holiday gift this past year, we received a few pounds of pre-shaped and frozen hamburgers ordered from an online company. We’ve been enjoying them a lot and now that we’re down to our last few, we’re contemplating whether to order more. Have you ever ordered meat online?

There are a few issues that we’ve been considering – primarily cost, environmental issues, and convenience.

The cost is probably the biggest factor. We’ve been looking into ordering online, and it seems like you can get a good bargain if you hit on one of their sales or if you can buy in large bulk. Otherwise, we calculate that we’d end up paying twice or more what we’d pay for the same meat in the grocery store.

Environmentally, there are two issues to consider – both common riffs from the local and organic food movements. One is the environmental and economic cost it takes to transport this meat over long distances (in this case, from Nebraska to Massachusetts), and the second is our desire to buy meat from farms that follow ethical practices in raising their livestock.

We might be willing to buy local even if it’s not organic or buy organic even if it has to be shipped. But if it’s neither, that becomes a big deterrent for us.

And finally, we come to the convenience factor. Oh, wonderful convenience! It’s so nice to pull a burger out of the freezer in the morning and know that dinner will be as easy as frying it up with some cheese.

But really, we have to admit to ourselves that we’re being a bit easy. It’s not that hard to buy ground beef to make a few patties at home, wrap them in wax paper, and keep them in the freezer for those lazy days. If we make them ourselves, we also have greater control over the kind of beef we’re using, the other ingredients going into the burger, and the size of the burgers.

Buying meat online might make more sense for specialty cuts that aren’t easy to find in the store or if you’re throwing a large party and want to buy in bulk. Otherwise, …it seems like we’ve just talked ourselves out of buying meat online!

What’s your perspective?

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