Speaking for themselves; Australia's biggest supermarkets want you to believe their meat is raised on open paddocks, and prepared fresh by friendly in-house butchers.
“At Woolworths our butchers, trim, prepare and pack over two hundred cuts of meat right here in-store.”
It's a warm and friendly story. Everyone likes to think their meat is, farm fresh. But there's another story being told about the meat we consume.
The animals stand ankle deep in their manure all day long. So if one cow has it, the other cows will get it.
Worldwide, audiences are watching "Food, Inc.", the documentary argues intensive feedlot farming practices are cruel to animals and dangerous to humans.
“Cows are not designed to eat corn. They are designed to eat grass. The only reason we feed them corn is it is cheap and it makes them fat quickly” from “Food Inc.”
In digesting the grain instead of grass - nutritionists in the film contend cattle produce a virulent strain of bacteria which can make it's way into the food we eat. The consequences, devastating.
“The cattle are fed a lot of hormones, they eat a lot of grain which is covered in pesticides and they are confined in very little spaces. Whereas ours roam around the paddock” says Simon and Cameron Philp, the owners of Springhill Beef.
“We do a fresh grass fed beef, we age it and it is just premium quality” says Simon.
Springhill Beef is responding to customers turning away from feedlot cattle found in supermarkets in favour of old fashioned farm techniques.
You won't find Springhill's Beef in supermarkets. Simon and Cameron deliver their product to your door via orders online.
“The internet for us has just been a boom. I mean our customer base has increased as I said 3 or 4 fold to around 4000 people um word of mouth customers enjoying the meat. We couldn't live without it.”
Springhill's unique selling point is their beef is grass fed, hormone free and aged on the bone for 20 days.
But they are not the only online players in the market. Across the spectrum small players and large are now using cyberspace to sell to consumers.
In 2008 Pip Lampe told Today Tonight, she bought her lamb from online supplier, Moppity Meats. She argues it is cheaper than the supermarket.
“I make a huge saving on my weekly grocery bill. For that box. $115 and I get half a lamb. That is a big saving on what I'd pay at the big supermarket chains. It would be upwards of half price” said Pip.
RG Meats Colin Cooke is a wholesaler. He refutes the notion that online suppliers can sell cheaper than him. “The thing with the internet is they make you buy the package deal. Which is fine. The idea is to buy bulk. But when you work out that package deal, I've gone through it myself, there is a lot of things I really don't know what to do with, can't use and yes there are a couple of things I can get at a good price.”
On price alone. Approximately 18kg of beef from Spring Hill will cost you $200. The same package at a local butcher cost us $271.50. Coles was also more expensive at $232. Woolworths were cheaper than the online offering at $185.
We also asked Colin at RG Meats to give us a price on the same basket of meat. He was the cheapest - $147.
Another point Cameron and Simon make is they deliver door to door. This is a cost not factored into our comparison.
“Well we are natural, we try and do it as a natural product. You can't guarantee when you have grain fed steer where those grains have been, what they have been sprayed with.”
Simon and Cameron's hormone free, grass fed, black angus is also aged for 20 days.
However, Colin argues online meat is not as fresh as the wholesaler.
“A wholesaler like us... everything is cut fresh this morning and it is all cut fresh again tomorrow. Now if I am internet, I am cutting today and it is delivered tomorrow. And some of the deliveries may not get there till the next day” says Colin.
For some, online beef is another world away. For Simon and Cameron business is booming with customers hitting the internet to escape the product and the power of the large supermarkets.
“Now with the internet. You can bypass Coles and Woolies and get it direct. Direct from the farmer. It is power to the people” says Simon.
Spring Hill Beef will be made available for delivery to South Australians if there is enough demand - simply go to their website and send them an email via the linkl.
SPRING HILL BEEF
Tel: (02) 4872 3965