Where’s the beef? Turns out, on Facebook. BiteMadison is using social media to bring local cuts of meat straight from the farm to your dinner table. Butcher Heather Oppor launched the new buying club in November.
“The goal is to provide more people with access to local, humanely raised meat at an affordable price,” says Oppor. “We offer pretty much anything in the beef, pork and poultry areas.”
Here’s how it works: BiteMadison takes orders via Facebook and email for New York strip steaks, ground beef, maple-smoked thick-cut bacon, pork shoulders, boneless chicken breasts and other cuts at the beginning of each week. On Fridays, the meat is ready for pickup or delivery. The club’s Facebook page updates customers on popular items as well as seasonal selections. To become a member of BiteMadison, you have to request permission to join the Facebook group.
“Once you are a member, you can place orders,” says Oppor.
Locally raised meat can be pricey. But Oppor says the buying club model allows BiteMadison to sell at prices “well below” what you’d pay at the grocery store.
“You do have to plan ahead. Arrange pickups or drop-offs, stuff like that,” says Oppor. “But you know exactly where your meat is coming from.”
BiteMadison works exclusively with Twisted Oak Farm in Oxford. Animals raised on the farm are free to roam. Cows and pigs forage on pasture in addition to being fed some supplemental cut and dried grass (sometimes potatoes when it gets really cold). Chickens dine on organic corn feed. No hormones, antibiotics or GMO products are used.
“We slaughter everything on the farm. It’s always a little weird when you talk about it, but it really does afford us the opportunity to take orders and process them as needed,” says Oppor. “It also creates a better environment for the animals because we aren’t shipping them off somewhere, causing stress.”
Oppor grew up in Columbus. Her first job was milking cows. She studied marketing and communication at Edgewood College with hopes of working in the culinary industry. After stints as the marketing director at Yahara Bay Distillers and the Children’s Theater of Madison, she enrolled in the culinary program at Madison College. It was there she found an interest in butchering and charcuterie. Before launching BiteMadison, she was a meat manager and buyer at the Willy Street Co-op.
“There are over 130 people who are now part of the club,” says Oppor. “We are hoping to sell wholesale to restaurants, too.”
The buying club is just phase one for BiteMadison. Oppor is partnering with Chad Nelson from Twisted Oak Farm to open a brick-and-mortar butcher shop in the next few months. They are currently looking at spaces in DeForest and Sun Prairie.