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Sustainable and pastured meat in San Diego

So after reading Fast Food Nation, and being dismayed to find out that Brandt is shipping in tons of corn to feed their cattle, I'm looking to find a source for pastured meat I can cook at home. Does anyone know of a San Diego source for pastured, non-feedlot, grass-fed beef? I've heard about a place on Palomar that has a storefront in La Jolla. Anyone tried this?


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  1. You might want to call Iowa Meat Farms and find out what they do.

    3 Replies
      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

        Iowa Meat Farms sells Berkshire pork from the place Jay gets most of his pork products. At least they did a couple of weeks ago.

        1. re: DougOLis

          the Kurobuta chops are Berkshire I believe. The only pork chops I consider decent enough for a grill heh heh.

      2. It's called Homegrown Meats. All I tried there was a house made jalepeno sausage and a Rosie Petaluma chicken. Their prices are high, but they do claim that their beef is all pasture on Palomar. They have their own aging room, but do have to send their meat up to LA to be processed still, since there isn't a closer operation.

        ps- if you like FFN, I would recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's a little more broad, but excellently researched.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cmhuang

          Homegrown Meats in La Jolla is expensive but if you want local all grass feed beef they're the only shop I know selling it. Believe it or not there are a ton of cows and chickens raised in this county but there is no FDA approved slaughter house so the actual butchering must be done in L.A. but that's still relatively local.


        2. You can also purchase your meat from a 4H auction, you have to buy the whole steer, but usually they process it for you, you will need a freezer or friends to go in with you.

          1. Homegrown Meats is very expensive and we have had very uneven experiences. I'm beginning to think I can't justify the price for experimentation, even though I would really prefer to keep it as local as possible.

            6 Replies
            1. re: foodiechick

              What do you mean by uneven? I'd likely be looking to buy stuff for braising as opposed to steaks.

              1. re: Josh

                All we have bought are steaks, inconsistencies with toughness and gristle. You will probably have MUCH better luck with braising cuts, assuming less expensive as well!

                1. re: Josh

                  I have been buying all my meat from Homegrown since they opened. I go once a week and generally buy some grass fed beef (varying cuts, short ribs, ribeyes, and ground have been our favorites), berkshire pork, ground deistel turkey and fresh cut roasted for turkey, various cuts of pork, and the rouge poulet whole chickens (an heirloom breed from France that has soured us on any other chicken.) Also, they have the best wild boar bacon ever. We really love the taste of all the grassfed products and prefer that now over corn-fed. The guys that work there can range from extremely knowledgable to less so but eager to learn and help but they have never been anything other then enthusiastic and helpful. I generally go Sunday mornings after the LJ Farmers market around 11 when they open and have found that crew to be the best. Also, it is more expensive then the grocery store but less so then whole foods. I find that I can buy my meat for two people and generally a dinner party for the week for around $75. Perhaps that is expensive but it covers almost all dinners and lunches for a week and I feel better about what I am eating.

                  1. re: jturtle

                    Wow! That is such a raving and detailed review, convinced me to go back. Thanks for all of the detail on various products!

                    1. re: jturtle

                      Thanks a bunch for the detailed report. I will definitely be checking it out.

                  2. re: foodiechick

                    The "uneven experience" is an inherent part of grass feed cattle. The flavor of the meat tends to be effected by the type of grass in the pasture (is native grasses, is it large seed grasses, are there a lot of herbs in the grass mix... All of these things change the flavor and contribute a gameness to the flavor) also grass feed cattle do not fatten up like corn feed cattle so it is a much leaner meat which must be served more on the rare side or it will dry out and become tough. A friend of mine who was raised in Argentina tells me she thinks American cattle are to greasy because they're so fattened prior to slaughter but the extra fat and consistent diet mean the meat almost always juicy and tastes the same no matter where it raised. Believe it or not there are advantages to modern agriculture over the grass feed beef but it depends on what your personal tastes are.

                  3. As far as I know the only one is the place up on Palomar and even they have to send their cattle up to LA somewhere for processing so you can't truly get local pastured meat. That being the case, would you consider ordering over the internet from Tallgrass or Aldersprings Ranch? I've had great experience with everything I've received from Aldersprings Ranch.

                    1. Went here today and picked up some stuff. I got a piece of top sirloin, a 2-lb. slice of beef shank, a bit of wild boar bacon, and a little sack of jerky. Prices are definitely quite high, though I imagine they are a much more accurate reflection of what meat actually costs without government subsidies. If all meat was this expensive, there'd be a lot more vegetarians.

                      I cooked the osso buco tonight, and it came out pretty tender and tasty. I can't really imagine having meat as too significant a part of my diet given the pricing here, but it's nice to know there is an option in San Diego.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Josh

                        wild boar bacon, you're killing me!!!

                        So how much does a steak, say a ribeye, cost at this place? I want to check it out.

                        1. re: MrKrispy

                          FYI, the wild boar bacon is incredible.

                          Steaks vary in price. Top sirloin is $14/lb. Rib eye was......$34/lb. Hence, my purchase of the sirloin.

                          1. re: Josh

                            ooof I was hoping it was $20/lb or under. I guess I will try top sirloin first haha. When i was in Maui earlier this year I bought their local grass fed beef and it was cheaper than that. Hopefully prices will drop some when they have been up and running for a while.

                            1. re: MrKrispy

                              There might be a bit of confusion here. They have three styles of meat: grassfed, natural prime, and natural. The grassfed ribeyes that I saw on sunday were $23 a pound and ground beef at 8 a pound. Also keep in mind that they are dry aging all the natural beef which may account for the higher price. They also have berkshire port at $15 a pound. Often they will have grass fed carne asada at 13-14 a pound and it is really delicious.

                              1. re: jturtle

                                thanks for the help. perhaps Josh is referring to the local beef and non-local stuff is a bit cheaper?

                                Regardless, I fail to understand how cows fed corn can be referred to as "natural". Perhaps they are only fed corn for a part of their life... but there is nothing natural about cows trying to process corn. Ah well.

                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                  My bad, jturtle is right. I just reviewed some photos I took. The grass-fed steaks like NY strip and rib eye are $24/lb. It's the corn-fed stuff that's more expensive.

                                  Diva, I think people are just really used to paying for subsidized meat production. I think meat should be priced to reflect its real cost. That's the only way we'll see consumption drop to a reasonable level.

                      2. Here is a good summary from Naomi Wise about the different meat options in SD:


                        Also a good reminder of how good Argentinian beef tastes, like real beef

                        1. I have yet to make it to the La Jolla butcher shop, I'm working on finishing a starter pack of beef from a company called J&J Grass-fed beef.
                          Here is their website: http://www.rangelandbeef.com
                          A friend started a co-op and they drop orders off here in Escondido once a month. I'm not sure how you would go about getting beef near you - if you give them a call perhaps they'll direct you toward a local co-op?
                          The top sirloin we had this week was great, so tender. But I was surprised it arrived frozen, and it is in too large of quantities for just 2 of us. The 2lbs of ground beef was frozen in one large pack and I'm going to have to thaw it, split it in 4 parts and re-freeze the 3 parts I don't use that night. I'm not sure how that is going to effect the meat.
                          They might have other arrangements that I don't know about, it is certainly worth a call!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: tanne

                            Having gone through my purchases, I doubt I'll be buying much more stuff from Homegrown. The meat was fine, but it was quite expensive. I'd rather just make an occasional trip to Linkery or Burger Lounge if I want meat. I can do without it.

                            1. re: Josh

                              Josh--I also read FFN a couple of years ago. After reading it I remember considering giving up meat all together but then relatively quickly changed my mind. I tend to not eat as much red meat and although it would be nice to get meat like you are looking for, it is obviously challenging.

                              I have heard good things about Seisels and Iowa meats. Is your issue with them just that they use corn feed? Also, have you or anyone else tried the butcher at Cowboy Star?

                              1. re: sdaints

                                I haven't purchased meat at the Cowboy Star butcher shop but I have stopped in and checked it out. Limited selection and very $$$$

                          2. We've moved a non-local thread digression to the General Chowhounding Topics board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/570304#

                            Please help us keep the board focused on discussing local chow options. Thanks!

                              1. Josh - a place to check out in Temecula, supposed to be opening soon. They carry the J&J Rangeland beef, free range, grass fed.