If you read our last article about Bay Area Community Supported Agriculture projects and you’re looking for more ways to buy local, you might be interested in a meat club.
Meat CSAs, or meat clubs, are relatively new to the Bay Area and so far there are only a few. Here’s an introduction:
Clark Summit Farm in Tomales, Calif. runs a meat club that provides 100 percent grass fed, dry aged beef; pastured pork (fed organic whey from Cowgirl Creamery!); and organic chicken and eggs. Goat, lamb and rabbit also are occasionally available.
Members use an online ordering system to select cuts; a deposit is placed upon ordering; and items are paid for at pickup. There is no order minimum and no monthly commitment. This “virtual Farmers’ Market” model is first-come, first-served, so there’s no guarantee you will get what you want. Meat is delivered frozen to central pick-up sites on third Thursdays.
The Marin Sun Farms Meat Club CSA offers six-month and one-year membership purchases, as well as monthly pickups. Meat selections include beef, park, lamb, goat, mutton, chicken, turkey and duck. Monthly selections are delivered frozen and vary seasonally.
Members can choose from several package-types, including a Ground Meat Package, a Roast and Braise Package and a Steak package; a Custom Package allows customers to build their own mix. An add-on option allows members to select individual items to include with their order: beef marrow bones, goat offal, a whole pig - even pet food. Meats are 100 percent grass fed and “raised locally, ethically, sustainably and humanely.”
Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, Calif., has pastured chickens (fresh and frozen) and eggs available for delivery to central Bay Area locations. Members pay a $100 deposit then order as often as they like. Chickens cost $6 to $6.50 per pound.
The Bay Area Meat CSA, a project of Slow Food Berkeley, is another option.
If you have the freezer space, there are more options for buying directly from ranchers:
Hollister California’s Morris Grass fed Beef doesn’t run a tradition CSA, but the ranch sells directly to consumers. Portions are big - the smallest option is a split half, which weighs between 87 and 105 pounds. All beef is delivered frozen in labeled packages. Customers have the option to pickup their entire order at one time from a local drop-off location or to have it delivered “CSA-style” in four portions throughout the year.
A split half includes a number of top-shelf steaks, grilling steaks and roasts, plus stew meat, short ribs, cube steak, ground beef and bones. The beef costs $6.45 per pound “Traditional Style” delivery and $7.50 per pound “CSA-Style” delivery.
Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, Calif. offers a similar bulk-buy program for grass fed, organic beef and lamb. The smallest portions available are quarter beef and half lambs. After butchering costs, the price of beef ranges from $6 to $7.20 per pound, $7.50 to $10 per pound for lamb. Customers must pick up their order directly from the butcher in Penngrove, Calif. Note that there is often a waiting list for this ranch.