Crowd Cow, online crowdfunding service for buying beef, launches in Baltimore

Crowd Cow, an online platform that allows customers to partner with strangers to buy a whole cow by purchasing specific cuts of meat, is making its Baltimore debut Tuesday as the Seattle-based company expands across the country.

Founded in 2015 by Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg, the service was previously only available in 15 states. As of Tuesday, Crowd Cow began shipping its beef coast to coast.

Crowd Cow allows customers to purchase individual shares of beef, one cow at a time (customers are routed to the a cow from a ranch in their region). Shares range from $5 for a half-pound of sirloin tip steaks to $117 for the New York steak share, which includes four 12-ounce New York strip steaks, two 8-ounce top sirloin steaks and two pounds of premium ground beef.

“You can buy as little or as much as you want,” Heitzeberg said.

He said popular cuts like New York strip steaks and ribeyes go quickly, but he’s been surprised by the customers who have purchased hooves, organs, tongues and tails.

The ground beef is popular, as well.

“People haven’t had ground beef with animals that were raised for steaks — they don’t understand that that tastes incredibly good,” Heitzeberg said. “Compared to what you get in the grocery store — they want to keep as much water in there as possible.”

Once the primary cuts have been claimed, the cow “tips” and the meat ships to customers within five business days. Along with the meat, Crowd Cow sends four or five suggested recipes corresponding with the cuts.

Crowd Cow sources from several dozen small farms across the U.S., and Heitzeberg said the company is in touch with hundreds of farms it may partner with in the future. Crowd Cow only works with farms that don’t use growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics, and those that use sustainable farming practices, Heitzeberg said.

In its first year of business from 2015 to 2016, Crowd Cow had more than $1 million in sales. Heitzeberg declined to give current sales figures.


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