While I definitely support purchasing meat at Whole Foods, with its Animal Welfare rating system and the fact that they don't even carry meat or poultry without a minimum standard (no hormones, antibiotics, cages or gestation crates, etc.), I felt like we could do better. I wanted to get closer to the farm for all of the meat/poultry we purchase - for the welfare of the animals, the stewardship of the land, the quality, health and taste of the meat we consume, and the economic value to our community. Even if meat from Whole Foods takes into account the first three factors, I am a believer in sourcing food as locally as possible, to reduce the length of the food chain from farm to consumer and also to put my money behind sustaining these local resources.
Enter Clarion River Organics. We attended a local food conference this year on a whim, and while we were touring the vendor booths, I noticed a sign that said Meat CSAs. We learned that Clarion River offers different shares for pork, beef and chicken, as well as a combination of those if you would like multiples. We definitely wanted to get full shares for each. We get a share once a month from June through November, at one of many pick-up locations. You can find more details here.
We picked up our first share last week, and this is what we got.
Beef: steaks, ground beef, stew meat and short ribs (~ 8 lbs. total)
Pork: ground pork, handmade parsley parmesan sausage, ham steak, pork chops (~ 8 lbs. total)
Chicken: 3 whole chickens (two 4+lb. roasters, 1 2+lb. stewing chicken)
(Stewing chickens were formally laying hens - their muscle tissue is flavorful, but different from chickens raised for meat. We're looking forward to using it for soup or stew, or braising it.)
This will last our family of two through the month until our next share, definitely. Everything is well marked and packed so as to last a long time in the freezer. I'm already planning some bolognese sauce for next week! (I'll pass along my recipe when I make it!)
I also have to note what most impressed me about this share. When we received our update email telling us the first share was ready to be picked up, it also told us that some of the pigs were not fed entirely organic grain because they ran out at one point and had to be fed conventional grain (still non-GMO) in the winter for awhile. I appreciate so much this transparency on their part. It is the mark of a business that has nothing to hide and that engenders trust and respect between the provider and the consumer.
I'm proud to be a customer of theirs, not only because of the quality of their products but because of the way they run their business. We are very blessed in our area to have trusted options to choose from for sourcing ethically raised, nutritious meats.
Thanks, Clarion River (@ClarRvrOrganics)! Can't wait for next month!