Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CSA Shares Available!

We are pleased to announce that we are taking orders for CSA Shares once again! 

We have come up with a new CSA option that we feel will serve both you, the customer, and us, the farmer, better.

Earlier this year, we offered 6 month and 12 month CSA Shares where we delivered 10 lbs of meat per month. We found that with the busy summer months, many customers have had a hard time meeting us because of vacations etc... This resulted in several extra deliveries and created a logistical headache as we tried to keep track of who had received their order and who hadn't. It also meant many late nights for us sorting and weighing shares for each order. During one of these late nights, Hollie and I were discussing ways we could be more efficient so that we could feel comfortable with increasing our CSA Share membership. (It is frustrating for us to have customers on a wait list.) After bouncing some ideas around we finally came up with what we feel is a good solution.

Rather than deliver 10 lbs of meat each month, we will now deliver 30 lbs at once. 30 lbs is still small enough to fit in most freezers as it only takes up 1 cubic foot. It also means fewer deliveries to coordinate. This helps frees up your schedule and ours. Our goal is to keep CSA Shares in stock, so that when you run low on meat, it is readily available for you to order or at least receive within a month or so. While we can't guarantee this, we will work really hard towards it. Another advantage is since you are only buying 30 lbs (or 3 months by our previous model) you aren't tying up as much money at once. Our CSA Shares will also make nice gifts.

As we approach fall and winter, we will offer two different CSA Shares.
Pork Share: 30 lbs of Berkshire Pork of assorted cuts of chops, roasts, bacon, ground pork, ribs, and ham. Cuts come wrapped and packaged in portions small enough for two people.

Combo Share includes: 15 lbs of Berkshire Pork of assorted cuts of chops, roasts, bacon, ground pork, ribs, and ham. Cuts come wrapped and packaged in portions small enough for two people.

15 lbs of Grass Fed Beef of assorted cuts of steaks (Rib, T-Bone, Round, and Sirloin), roasts, ground beef, stew meat, and ribs. All beef is dry aged to perfection and cuts come wrapped and packaged in portions small enough for two people.

We hope that you will be happy with these new options and look forward to your order. Please visit the CSA Share page on our website to order. Orders will be delivered on October 2, 2010.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bad Timing

By now everybody has heard about the massive egg recall due to a salmonella outbreak affecting 380 million eggs.  Unfortunately for the West Valley City council they recently decided that they wouldn't vote on a proposal that would allow residents to keep backyard "urban" chickens.  Of course this news is horrible timing for the city council.  Hopefully residents of WVC will use this recall as leverage to get the city council to reconsider.  A few backyard chickens can be a fun hobby for families who might otherwise not have the chance to be involved in farming even if it is on a small scale.  Chickens offer a natural way to keep insects down thereby reducing/eliminating the need for harmful pesticides.  They earn their keep with delicious, nutritious eggs.

In some of the documentaries like Food Inc and Fresh, Michael Pollan explains how cheap food isn't really cheap.  That somewhere a price is paid.  This recall and all the others we have seen this year are good examples of the price that is paid.  I haven't bought eggs from the store in years but I would imagine that they are probably priced around $1.50-$2.00/dozen.  Most local farms sell eggs for $3.00/dozen.  Why the increased cost?  Scales of economy obviously come into play here as does the use of government subsidized grain.  Most small producers buy local unsubsidized grain which costs more than the grain the big CAFO operations are buying.  Naturally the costs are going to be a little higher.  For those who raise their own eggs or buy fresh local eggs, they can attest to the enormous flavor difference and as well as quality difference.  One of the contributing factors to these outbreaks is the routine use of antibiotics which help build superbugs.  I am sure none of this information is new to readers of this blog.  Aside from the increased nutritional value and resulting increased health to the consumer, consider the cost difference. $1 to $1.50 savings every week or two.

Now consider the cost of getting sick with salmonella.  Visit to the doctor, usually an emergency visit, missed work, prescriptions, etc... not to mention the risk of further illness with a compromised immune system.  The bottom line, is that eating fresh and local, is cheaper in the long run.  Not to mention you will likely enjoy a higher quality of life, that nutritious food offers.

Your body is worth it and you will enjoy the food more as it tastes much better.  Consider all the costs next time you consider buying from factory produced food.   

More Local Food

We continue to be amazed by the demand we see for quality, local food. For those who follow our farm, you know that we are in the middle of expanding our farm. We are trying desperately to shorten the wait times that currently exist. Ideally, we would like to have beef, pork, and chicken in stock so that as orders come in, we can fill them within the week. By purchasing additional land our goal is to increase our livestock to the point that this becomes a reality. We have already ramped up our pig numbers considerably. However, we won’t see the rewards of this effort until a few months down the road when the pigs are ready to harvest. Hopefully we can keep up with the feed bill until then! : )

Our little farm isn’t the only one growing. We are starting to see more small farms pop up in Utah. We applaud and welcome these farms. More and more consumers are starting to recognize the benefits that come from locally produced foods; stronger economy, fresher food, less pollution, etc… We are happy to see more farms stepping up to the plate. One thing that often surprises us is our customers’ reactions to tasting our pork, beef, or chicken. I get the impression that many customers buy from our farm because of our farming principles (humane, sustainable, pasture raised etc…) rather than buying for a gourmet quality product. Perhaps, when we get a shorter wait list, we will start emphasizing more on our quality. While all of our farming principles contribute towards superior, gourmet quality meats, we also have incredible breeds, and amazing bloodlines within those breeds. The feed we offer our animals is both a science and an art. In fact our feed looks so good to us that we have half joked about trying to make multigrain bread out of our pig/chicken feed. I actually think it would turn out pretty good. The quality of our feed is so high that I would not hesitate eating it myself. My point is that when you combine all these elements you end up with a product that is uniquely superior to anything else. I believe that this is a secret that our chef and restaurant customers hope we keep to ourselves.

In acknowledging the increased number of farms we are starting to see, I also wanted to reemphasize the need for consumers to learn about their food and how it was raised. This is one of the wonderful advantages to buying from small, local farms. As we mentioned above, we are excited to see more local farms offering high quality food. However, because we are so familiar with our “industry” which is rather close-knit, it is easier for us to recognize what some farms are or aren’t doing.

For example, we have seen a chicken farm here in Utah advertising with pictures that show chickens on pasture. It turns out that the chickens are actually raised indoors. This same farm also advertises that they are Certified Organic which really caught my attention as to my knowledge; certified organic feed in bulk isn’t available in Utah. In trying to track down this farm’s source of organic feed, it was mentioned that they are actually under scrutiny of the USDA for improper use of the Organic label. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case as stories like these damage the reputation of other farms.

Similarly, we have seen farms selling Berkshire cross pork. This seems to be rather popular. I know that some farmers are artificially inseminating their commercial breed sows with Berkshire lines. However, Berkshires cross better with some breeds than others as far as increasing meat quality goes. Even with the best crossing, the pork is nowhere near the same quality as purebred Berkshire pork. We know because we have done careful side by side comparisons. The price I have seen on most of this pork is higher than our price for 100% Berkshire. Besides, they make no mention of the way the animals were raised, the type of feed being used etc… which again are large contributing factors.

To be clear, it is none of our business to judge how a farmer raises their products. They need to do what is best for their farm and family. We are excited that more farms are open to trying heritage breeds to increase their quality, as well as try raising animals on pastures rather than small pens or barns. We just hope that they represent their product for what it is. We also hope that consumers are demanding transparency and that they try and understand and even see how their food is raised. Consumers shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. If a label states, “Berkshire cross” a couple questions that come to my mind are, “Crossed with what?” What percent Berkshire?” Technically, a pig that is 1/16 Berkshire could be called a Berkshire cross and wouldn’t likely yield any of the favorable qualities the Berkshire offers.

Hopefully, I don’t come across as a spoilt child who’s upset over competition. Again, we think it is fantastic that other farms are increasing their quality. If we did view it from a competitive perspective it would only help demonstrate the value we offer. In fact, we have had a couple calls from other chicken producers asking how we can offer our chickens at the low price that we do. We simply want to see the momentum Utah has going, continue. Utah is surging forward with CSA’s, farm to table restaurants, locally raised food is in higher demand, I think I even read that one of the school districts in Salt Lake County recently switched to buying locally grown produce. We want to see this continue! Farmers who try and capitalize on buzz words and representing their food as something less than what it really is will hurt this momentum. Consumers can act as the police in this regard. Asking questions and seeing how a couple different farms operate can offer a wealth of knowledge.

As a teaser, my secret project that I have mentioned in the past will help our customers gain a better understanding of how we operate. (I am sure some of you can guess what we are working on!)