As kids – and let’s face it, parents, too – return to the thrill (chaos) of the school year, after-school activities and homework often take precedent over grocery shopping for a balanced, well-planned dinner. Our partnerships with smaller, family-owned farms and doorstep delivery make a variety of farm-fresh meat selections accessible to consumers who would otherwise not be able to source products from these ethical experts.
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Goat. It’s What Should Be for Dinner.
In 2008, New York Magazine called it the most popular food you’ve never eaten. While goat has gained some cred stateside since then, it’s still decidedly low on the go-to list of proteins for family dinners in the U.S. Goat meat is widely consumed on a variety of international tables, served in such classic dishes as Indian Korma and Latin Cabrito, as well as a tender substitute in many beloved lamb dishes, with a flavor slightly sweeter than beef but less sweet than lamb.
Whenever the AgLocal team tells friends or people we meet about where we work and the AgLocal mission, we inevitably get asked the question “So, what should I look for when purchasing meat?”
The intent of AgLocal is to provide people with trusted (and delicious) meat from family farms, as well as to educate consumers about the importance of where their food originates. Asking questions – more importantly, asking the right questions – will empower you to make smarter decisions for yourself and those for whom you cook.
Here is a quick 1-2-3 reference list of questions that will help lead you to the right meat for your table.
The long and winding road…
Or at least, that was the tune in my head as I drove in the late afternoon towards Humboldt County to visit our newest farm partners Liz and Hugo Klopper at Bear River Valley Ranch. Dusk was hitting as I drove through the small town of Ferndale, pass the town hall and the old Majestic Theater, and continued onward for about 40 minutes more towards the Kloppers’ 6,000-acre property.
At the end of the road stood a smiling Liz and Hugo, waiting outside their blue pick-up and eager to show me their farm.
Hugo, originally born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), came to California at the age of 19. He inherited the property from his stepfather 25 years ago and has been ranching with his wife and now three boys, Aaron, Ryan, and Matthew, ever since.
Ah, yes, the picnic. A classically picturesque meal spent outside – usually on a grassy hillside or sandy beach with a loved one… and a sandwich. The sandwich has become almost synonymous with picnic fare and, thus, a predictable part of an otherwise unconventional dining experience.
It’s not that we don’t enjoy a good sandwich, au contrare! Sandwiches have nearly unlimited redeeming qualities, from the versatility factor – a sandwich is virtually any meal you can think of placed between or within bread – to sheer portability. There are several reasons picnickers have been packing sandwiches in their baskets for centuries and really no reason the practice should stop now. That said, we think you can do better.
There’s no escaping it: most of us cannot eat whatever sounds delicious whenever it sounds delicious and maintain optimum health. Whether it’s weight management or that pesky hereditary cholesterol issue (thanks, Dad), at some point, something will compel each of us to examine our diets more closely. For meat lovers, examining our diets also means examining the meats we consume. You didn’t think those steroids and hormones fed to many mass-produced, commercially-raised animals magically disappear when they reach your bar-b-que, did you? No sir.
When weighing snack and meal options, it’s important to gather all the information – nutritional, cost and efficiency information. Here’s a “for instance” that was recently presented to us by one of our farm partners, Reed Anderson of Anderson Ranches.
A 1-ounce bag of potato chips retails for $.99. Bargain! If potato chips were sold by the pound, they would retail for $15.84. Suddenly not such a bargain, is it? And not so healthy. A 1-ounce portion contains 155 calories with 95 calories from fat, 10.6 grams of total fat, and 1.9g of protein.
Now, take a pound of responsibly raised grass-fed beef, which typically retails between $7-$9. If beef was sold by the ounce, it would retail at $0.42-$0.56/oz.
How is AgLocal different?
It’s a common question we get from friends, customers, farmers and media.
With the wide Whole Foods selection, the rise of the modern-day butcher shop, the growing popularity of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and the fun activity of weekend farmer’s markets, why would you choose AgLocal?
Every meal is a decision, or a series of decisions. What do I feel like eating? Do I want to cook? When should I eat? Do I need to run to the store? Should I go out to dinner? What will the kids want? Do I have anything in the fridge?
While some days, these decisions are harder to make than others, we are fortunate for the ability to make them. We can choose what food we put into our bodies, and what we feed our friends and family.
For the longest time, centuries in fact, there was never much choice surrounding meat. Distinctions between grain-finished versus grass-finished products or commodity, cheaper meat versus sustainable, pricier meat did not exist. All meat, more or less was equal. All animals were raised as animals should be raised—on a farm, with room to roam, and plenty of locally sourced feed to consume. It was not until the end of World War II, when the U.S. soon had an excess corn supply that Americans decided to feed corn to cattle, which made them fatter more quickly and made large-scale production and automation viable options. Due to this change, the source of our meat is yet another decision we face at mealtime, and like any decision, it is important to be educated about all options.
Earlier this month, the USDA released its 2012 Census of Agriculture. The census is collected every five years and compiles information on land use, acreage, age of farm, age of farmer, gross income, etc.
According to the report:
- There are a little over 2 million farmers residing in the United States; out of these 2 million plus farms, more than half report that farming is only a part-time occupation.
- Two-thirds of all agricultural production comes from only 4% of farms.
- 75% of farms report less than $50k in sales and government payments (gross income).
- Vaue of agriculture products sold by farms in the United States in 2012 was at $395 billion; Livestock sales are around $182.2 billion
These quick stats beg the question–Why are there fewer and fewer full time farmers? And why is the majority of U.S. agricultural production concentrated in such a small number of farms?