Opinions on local meat producers and meat CSAs?
I'd like to get your opinion on in-state producers of meat that provide delivery to the Boston area, including meat CSAs.
I'm aware of Stillman's meat CSA and I'd heard of a couple in Concord, MA (I think) that had a similar arrangement. There was also a farm selling meat at the South Station Farmers Market, but I have not seen them recently.
What options are out there and has anyone used them? Ideally, I'd like to find a source of locally (and ethically) grown meat that is reasonably priced.
I've been buying meat from Chestnut Farms at the Arlington Farmer's market for several months, and everything I've gotten from them has been fantastic - tasty, well-packaged, and reasonably priced. I've bought pork sausage, grass-fed ground beef, sirloin steak, pork chops, bone-in chicken breasts, split chicken breasts and eggs. The woman and her daughter who run the stand are delightful, and really care about their animals' well-being. The cows are all grass-fed, so the meat is very lean, which some people aren't used to, but I think it's great if you don't overcook.
The Arlington Farmer's Market is on wednesdays from 1-6; Chestnut Farms also has a meat CSA which I haven't participated in.
I have been a happy Chestnut Farms CSA member since March. I signed up for a year at 10 lbs/month. Pickups are monthly in the lot that the Arlington Farmer's Market is located; during market season you can pick up your share as well as shop at the market on Wednesdays. Best part is that even though you sign up for a 6-month or 12-month share in advance, you pay in monthly installments when you pick up your meat. Makes budgeting easier for us.
We've gotten a mix of beef, pork, chicken and a bit of lamb (more lamb coming in the fall). I've loved the beef and pork the most and can really taste the difference. Really couldn't be happier with the whole arrangement. I have tracked what we've gotten each month and can send you the spreadsheet if you want more details. Just leave an email.
I have also become interested in joining a Meat CSA. I contacted Chestnut Farms and will be starting in September. So far, they have been very responsive and I am looking forward to starting. Glad to hear that others have had a good experience.
Also want to add a recommendation for Chestnut Farms. I bought sweet italian sausage from them at the Arlington Farmer's market and it was excellent. Well flavored, very lean and delicious in the eggplant/tomato/cousa stew I made.
We didn't sign up for the CSA, but I buy meat from Stillman frequently, and always find it to be top quality. Fianlly managed to score a chicken today (yay!), and I'm looking forward to roasting it soon. We have been considering reducing our meat intake significantly, and only eating Stillman or other locally produced/responsibly raised products. I do find that choosing this option means paying a lot more for your meat, but cheap meat (like those supermarket family packs) is really a false economy: what you save on dollars from your pocket, you pay for in many many other ways.