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What are my options for local meat?

  • Luther Apr 25, 2010 05:52 AM

I've seen meat farm shares mentioned here before, and sometimes people show up to farmers' markets with meat, but these always seem to involve frozen cuts.

Can we make a master thread of all the places I can go to buy fresh chicken, beef, lamb, pork or eggs? Farms or their direct retail outlets are OK. Details regarding growing conditions, whether antibiotics are used, and choice of feed would be good to know. Bonus if vegetables are available at the same location, or nearby.

For me, the closer to Boston proper the better, though I assume I will have to make a significant trip to get to most farms.

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  1. Thank you for asking this! After seeing Food, Inc. a couple of nights ago and, on the same night, getting ground beef from Trader Joe's that was exactly the same pink all the way through (I'm afraid to think about how they did that), I'm ready for good meat.

    1. We buy all our hormone and anti-biotic free meat and poultry at Tendercrop Farms on Rte. 1A in Newbury. They practice Integrated Pest Management on their produce and in season grow many different varieties other than the usual greens and tubers.
      http://www.tendercropfarms.com/meat_a...

      1. In town, Lionettes's in the SE or Savenor's both offer local meat. Butcher Shop may also. Pretty sure they sell local eggs. Bina sells eggs from a local farm.

        2 Replies
        1. re: 9lives

          Lionette's was sold last winter and is now Don Otto's:
          http://www.donottosmarket.com/
          I haven't been there since the changeover but they're still selling regionally raised meats and poultry.

          1. re: Allstonian

            i was in there a few weeks ago. Looks about the same as before. I didn't even look at the sign or notice the name change.

            Concord Prime and Beef also carries local products.

        2. Pete and Jen's backyard birds in Concord sells grass fed beef and their own chickens, pork and I believe lamb as well as eggs. Look on their website for more info.

          1. Was searching old threads yesterday for this very topic - specific to ground beef - we came up with two options we visited and brought home to try - Verrill Farms (frozen, about $7.50 per lb - says "our own grass fed and corn finished" - not sure about that last part....) and Codman Community Cooperative Farm Store in Lincoln.

            The latter is a small, unattended room in the barn with a couple of freezers full of meat and an egg refrigerator - it's honor system, prices are marked, you log what you buy and leave cash or check in the (secured) box by the door. The eggs were $4 a dozen and definitely the freshest, tastiest we have had in a really long time. The ground beef at $7.00 per lb is still thawing in the fridge - we have high hopes based on the eggs. There were also other cuts of beef (oxtail and delmonico steaks and some roasts) and lamb (leg, shoulder roast) and a label for pork/bacon but none avaiable yesterday.

            Can't wait to learn of other options....

            We know Wilson Farms sells their own eggs and they are pretty good and reasonably priced - does anyone know about how well their chickens are treated? - e.g., are they free roaming all the time with beaks intact?

            The treatment of the animals is at least as important to us as whether they are meeting organic standards, not overtreated with hormones/antibiotics and fed 100% grass (the cows, not the chickens).

            -----
            Wilson Farm
            10 Pleasant St, Lexington, MA 02421

            Verrill Farm
            11 Wheeler Rd, Concord, MA, MA 01742

            1 Reply
            1. re: rlh

              We still love the eggs from the Codman Farm, but the grass-fed beef we had was MUCH too lean for grilled burgers - flavorful, but needs fat added to the mix in a large proportion!

            2. I tried to post earlier but either I screwed up or my post got pulled. We've been getting our excellent heritage-breed beef and pork from Tilldale Farm in Hoosick, NY for 2 years now.

              While that seems far (though it's not much farther than western MA), we have easily picked it up when we are around and about New England, since they go to the great West River Farmer's Market in Londonderry, Vt and we often go there. That being said, I couldn't drive far to pick up my shares last month instead they delivered it to me in Newton. The daughter of the farmers lives nearby and she delivered it from the farm for a reasonable delivery charge.

              I know they are interested in developing their Boston following and making more deliveries to this area so they are worth consideration and a call if you're interested. The farmers, Joanne and Dan Tilley, are incredibly friendly and happy to talk about their farming practices, butchering options, cuts of meat and food in general. Their beef and pork is really consistent and I recommend it highly.

              http://web.vu.union.edu/~tilleye/webs...

              1. I have not done this due to scheduling, but there are the Meat Meets in Cambridge where you can buy Stillman's:
                http://www.enlocale.com/wp002/meat-me...

                We also have been pleased with a pork share and lamb share from Green Meadows Farm in South Hamilton, but they don't always have much available in the way of individual cuts.

                10 Replies
                1. re: fesenjan

                  This is all frozen, right?

                  1. re: Luther

                    City Feed on Centre St. in JP carries fresh Hardwick Beef, which I've never had so I can't vouch for its quality. City Feed also carries fresh chicken and pork (not sure about the particular producers) and frozen River Rock beef (my favorite). I've picked up fresh River Rock beef at the Brookline farmers market and have had it delivered to my house. I was initially skeptical about buying frozen meat, but I haven't found much deterioration in taste. Buying frozen does force you to think ahead, however.

                    1. re: Luther

                      Yes, right - that seems to be the majority of what's available from local farms.

                      1. re: Luther

                        slightly off-topic, but I've been doing the stillman's meat csa for a while now and even though it's frozen, I've found the quality to be extremely high. I was a little dubious of the frozen thing at first but I no longer care. you lose a little in convenience but I don't think it affects the flavor or texture of the meat as far as I can tell. however they store it, the stillman meat is exceptionally good.

                        1. re: Luther

                          Agreed on all the remarks about frozen meat - you do have to plan your defrosting ahead (and I have had to microwave some that didn't thaw on schedule) but the quality is excellent. I split a share with a neighbor, I actually don't know exactly where it came from, he though it was a farm in Sherborn. It is grass fed, and excellent quality. Not as lean as I thought it would be, which was good.

                          1. re: Luther

                            I have a sneaking suspicion that there are USDA or state regulations that force most of the small farmers to freeze the meat that they sell. Since Blood Farm in Groton does their own processing and butchering, they can sell fresh if you request it. I don't honestly know how River Rock is able to sell fresh, but I know that they do. But I believe that most of the other small farms in the area also have their butchering done at Blood Farm, and I think they're required to have it frozen immediately on processing for safe handling/transit from plant to farm to farmer's market/CSA/etc.

                            A few years ago, at least, Blood Farm were the *only* USDA-approved meat processor for small farms in Eastern MA and at one point they may have been the only show in the whole state. It's possible that that has changed since around 2006, with the rise in small farmers raising meat (something that was much more difficult to find a few short years ago) but that's what I learned when I first ever started looking seriously for locally-raised meat.

                            1. re: Allstonian

                              You may be right that there's a regulation involved, but I've always thought it was just a matter of practicality for the farmers to freeze all their meat once it was processed. I think River Rock started selling fresh cuts once they did enough farmers markets and had enough customers that they knew they'd sell out whatever they brought fresh within a day or so. But that's just my assumption, I'd be interested to hear if there is a specific regulation about freezing the meat.

                              I think there's still a shortage of meat processors - I recall hearing one farmer grumble that all of Blood Farm's clients were "grandfathered in" and that he had to go to another processor significantly farther away. That was a few years ago though, so maybe the situation has improved.

                              1. re: MichaelB

                                I've always thought it was practicality. There's a new (rebuilt after a fire, IIRC) facility in Athol that sells retail. A friend used them last year instead of Blood to have her animals slaughtered and was pleased. She said they source animals widely (way out of state)--for what that's worth, 2nd hand. I haven't been there, DK about fresh/frozen. http://www.adamsfarm.biz/

                              2. re: Allstonian

                                Yeah, I'm not totally sure, but I don't think that there are specific regs around small farmers having to freeze their meat. I believe that the issue is much more about managing supply. When you're farming on a small scale, slaughtering occasionally (or even seasonally), having to transport your animals to non-local slaughterhouses and then selling your product gradually to a fairly small customer base over the course of several months, selling fresh isn't really a viable option. Otherwise, when they slaughtered cattle they would have to sell thousands of pounds of beef within a few weeks. And then if you wanted to have it regularly, you would have to freeze it yourself.

                              3. re: Luther

                                I stopped in at Adams slaughterhouse today (they butcher our pigs) and asked if the meat has to be returned frozen. They have always had our meat already frozen when they call us to come get it, so I presumed that was the only way they could do it. They told me they default to freezing the meat unless they are told otherwise. So, if you're ordering from a specific farm and want to pick up meat within a couple of days of butchering, you could get unfrozen. Although, I have to say, I've not noticed any deterioration in our frozen meat that's been stored in the chest freezer. YMMV if you're holdng it in a fridge-top freezer.

                            2. Mainstone Farm in Wayland is also flash frozen. They also do veg. Good info on their website. www.mainstonefarm.com

                              1. Has anyone ever tried Azuluna products? The brand was started by a large-animal veterinarian at Cummings Veterinary School (Tufts) in Grafton. I sampled both the veal and the eggs at Oleana in Cambridge: spectacular. (The calves are raised on pasture, fed by -- get this -- their mothers!)

                                Several Whole Foods Markets now carry Azuluna eggs and veal. Check the website for details: http://azulunabrands.com.

                                -----
                                Oleana
                                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Elowheeze

                                  Azuluna eggs were very tasty- bright orange yolks & beautiful whites. Cooked up well for fried eggs. I don't remember the price though. Drumlin Farm eggs were even better (and at $5/ dozen, a great price for pastured chickens).

                                  1. re: tall sarah

                                    IIRC the price champion is Blood Farm at $3/dozen

                                    1. re: Luther

                                      Seven-Acre Poultry Farm in N. Reading was $2.50/dz for the JUMBO last time I was there, which is close to a year ago.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        $2/dozen for large at Seven Acre as of last month.

                                2. Austin Brothers, River Rock and Stillman all offer meat CSAs. I believe they are frozen. I have had great experiences with both Austin Brothers and River Rock but have not personally tried Stillmans.

                                  MetroPedal Power (a service that delivers things via bike) recently starting working with Austin, so you could have your share delivered to your home or office monthly.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cassoulady

                                    I just heard at the last meat meet that Stillmans was hooking up with MetroPedal Power for meat orders as well as vegetable orders in season...I've been picking up my meat and veggie CSA from them during the summer, but if this news is true, I may ask if I can get both delivered!
                                    I bought half a beef from Stillman's last year and picked it up at the slaughter house in Athol; it was frozen (never thought to ask to get it fresh), but it turned out to be a good thing when I was loading it into the freezer :~} ...not sure how long it would have taken to get the whole lot frozen otherwise!

                                  2. Sherman Market in Union Square (Somerville) sells local beef. I think it's usually in their freezer but I've seen some cuts in the refrigerated section before. I think they sell out pretty quickly, though.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: meaganl

                                      Sherman Market receives their fresh meat supplies on Thursday. On Friday, not sure of the time, they freeze any of the meat that hasn't yet sold. They twitter what they receive throughout the day on Thursday which can help you determine if you want to stop in and make a purchase.

                                      They do not include the price in the twitter announcement, but are happy to receive a phone call and will give this information freely over the phone.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        To comment more on Pete & Jen's and their meat. They always post a current list of what's available in their freezers right now on their site, www.peteandjensbackyardbirds.com. For FRESH meat, you usually sign up for it well in advance. For example, the chicken order forms go out in Spring and you need to jump or you will miss out. Then you pick up your FRESH FRESH FRESH birds on the designated Sunday of the month. They are actually killed at the farm the day before in their Mobile Poultry Processing Unit. And the quality is amazing and the best birds I've ever had.

                                        Their pork is in the spring/fall and is butchered at Bloods on the same day the pigs arrive at there. You can get it fresh or frozen depending on your order (order in advance). They also have some for sale in the freezer too. The same goes for the lamb. Rabbits are all frozen to my knowledge and all the beef is too. Its not their own beef but from a grass/organic farm nearby.

                                        Verrill's beef is pretty much grass fed and you can see the cows in the pasture on Rt 2 just before Emerson Hospital in their field on the left side of the road (going westbound).

                                    2. Chip-In Farm in Bedford sells their eggs at their farm stand as well as at Russo's in Watertown (and probably other places). Unlike the eggs available from my meat CSA farm, I don't find them to be THAT much more expensive than "regular" eggs. Obviously they are local, but I don't know much about their practices. Their website calls the chickens "free-running."
                                      http://chip-infarm.com/

                                      1. Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square has a good collection of local meats. Their weekly newsletter updates their inventory, which includes some frozen and some fresh items. Fresh fish is from the Globe Fish Company (Boston), beef [both fresh and frozen; described as: beautiful, local, all natural, pasture-raised, grass-fed) is from River Rock Farm (Brimfield, MA). They also carry organic veggies from several MA-based farms, including Verrill and First Root (Concord) as well as Enterprise (South Deerfield, MA). Eggs from Chip-In Farm (Bedford, MA). Anyway, you get the idea. Check out their webiste, and specifically their "Fresh This Week at Dave's" newsletter.

                                        -----
                                        Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                        81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                        River Rock Farm
                                        81 Five Bridge Rd, Brimfield, MA

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: redelephant

                                          Here's a link to the most recent weekly newsletter:

                                          http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs...

                                        2. Greenmeadow Farm in Hamilton has grass fed beef, pork and chicken. I got a pork share there last year and it was very good. Also Appleton Farms in Hamilton/Ipswich sells shares of there own grass fed beef. I have gotten it many times and think it is quite good.

                                          1. I use Houde family farm for (frozen) monthly meat deliveries. Quality and flavor is excellent, variety is reasonable, and the breakfast sausage is the best I have ever had. I believe they may be full, but it is worth getting on a waiting list. I originally found them via chowhound, BTW.

                                            1. Drumlin Farm in Lincoln sells frozen meet. I had some very nice lamb chops from there that were reasonably priced.