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Anyone use the Marin Sun Farms meat CSA?

Thinking about giving it a shot, but would love to get some feedback. One of the things that irritates me about our produce CSA is the quanity of some items (usually too little of a single item to serve to our family of three.).

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    1. I use the MSF meat CSA and love it. What are your concerns exactly?

      2 Replies
      1. re: stacyc

        I wanted to get feedback on how things are packaged ,etc. So I order say 10# of steak cuts, 10# of poultry, and 10# of stew meat. How do they package it up? 1# packs? A certain number of steaks? I need to make sure I get a reasonable amount of each item for recipes, etc.

        I gather you feel the quality and value are good as well?

        1. re: SLRossi

          Ah okay. I order a custom share that includes both roast and premium cuts, poultry and eggs. The packaging is interesting. What you get is different every time and so is the sizing of what you get. So, for instance, this month, for poultry, I received one 5.5# chicken, one 3.5 # turkey breast, a turkey leg, a package of 6 chicken wings, on half chicken and 3 stewing hens (which I special ordered). Sometimes it's all whole chickens, sometimes it's breasts and legs/thighs. So, a mix. Same for the meat. Sometimes I get all beef, sometimes I get other animals like lamb (I received two frenched racks this time) or goat (received 4 goat chops) of various sizes. I haven't asked for specific cuts so if that's of concern, I'm sure you could correspond with them in advance. I think it's kind of fun to figure out what to do with whatever I get.

          Happy to answer any other questions. Quality is good though there are other products I also like. For instance, I buy all sorts of meat from Pampero at the Mountain View FM on Sundays. They have longhorn beef but also have assorted cuts of lamb, pork, and chickens -- oh and milk straight from the cow. I like their meat a lot, but they haven't organized a CSA drop program yet. Value is good for the quality, but it's not cheap of course. Depends on how much you buy and it's a minimum of a 6-month commitment by EFT.

          Let me know what you decide to do. I've learned an incredible amount by necessity to cook some of the cuts I receive. I am a master of stocks now and they enhance everything I cook. I don't know how I lived without them!

          Oh, and customer service is good. They respond to emails and calls promptly.

      2. We get Marin Sun Farms and are generally pretty happy with the quality and rarely have problems with the packaging. We get a 15 lb/month "roast and braise" package with no meat substitutions (So we get a mixture of beef, goat, pork, chicken and lamb). My one complaint is that there's too much lamb and goat and not enough pork - but there's always a mix.

        I wouldn't say that they're the best butchers either and their finished products (like sausages) are good but nothing amazing.

        Six months or so ago we got some of the premium cuts (dry aged beef, some pork chops) and they were nothing short of spectacular. Sweet, buttery pork chops, nutty well marbled beef. Something really special.

        1 Reply
        1. re: boris_qd

          Regarding packaging - the stew meat usually comes in 1 lb packages and the roasts are usually deboned 2-3 lbs each. But that said, I did get an 11 lb bone in lamb leg and a huge 7 lb beef roast in my box one month. Chicken has been halved unless I special ordered it. Ground meat is always 1 lb packages. Steaks, chops are individually packed. Ribs are typically in 2-3 lb packages. Special orders like pig feet can be cut in half or left whole on request.

          They are generaly responsive to any problems or questions over email.

        2. The spicing of the sausages is just not quite right for me - I don't have any on hand right now so that I can be more specific (and a much smaller quibble - it would be nicer too if they were just a little smaller so that there was say an extra sausage in a "portion pack" but the total weight was the same). That said, I usually order them if they're on special and keep them for fast last minute meals.

          In general I'm very happy with the quality and price of MSF and regularly encourage other people to give it a try.

          Not that anyone asked to be convinced but I really like the surprise of finding out what will be in the monthly box. When that 11 lb. leg of lamb arrived my first thought was "are you kidding me?". It was just giant. But it forced me to move a little beyond my usual recipes (and out of my kitchen). In the end we roasted it in one of the "Diablo Stoves" in Mt. Diablo park and made a day of it. Some pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abak/611...

          The trip was planned because/around the leg of lamb. The MSF box suprise made one of my best summer afternoons.

          1. Have any of you tried the meat boxes available from Avedano's for comparison?

            I've had Marin Sun Farms meats, from the San Rafael market and occasional from markets in the city that sell it. Just curious about the benefits of the CSA subscription versus buying occasional meats.

            235 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1 Reply
            1. re: Windy

              surprise and serendipity vs. control and choice.

              I think MSF is cheaper as well - the web site for Avedano's doesn't list prices so I can't compare directly but the "Roast & Braise" package from MSF is around $5.70/lb.

              235 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

            2. I have done the MSF CSA since the beginning and I like it. I should say I am not really a meat person. It's fine, I eat meat, but I could and have been happily vegetarian. My three sons and husband are decidedly meat lovers. They want to do a BBQ tour of the south they love it so much. So, we did the CSA because I wanted good quality meat and I didn't have the will power to pay the higher prices for well raised meat when I went to the store. That was my original motivation, now I like the service. For those that tried it awhile ago it has changed a bit. First, they got a new administrator (came from Frog Hollow) and he is fantastic. Danny is very responsive and organized. Second, they used to give you a variety of lots of different cuts, which made it hard for a family. At least in our #2 share now they give us individually packaged but the same cuts, so it is easier to feed the family or guests. We also get a lot more of their dry aged steaks then we used to.

              As mentioned we get 1 lb. packs of ground, 1 lb of stew and everything else is based on the weight of the product. We get a real variety in roast sizes. When we get ribs sometimes we don't get enough for my family (without me eating them even). We do get whole chickens as well as half or parts. When we only get parts, we often get two types (leg and breast) but not always. If you are big chicken eaters, then it may not serve all of you. You almost always get multiple beef ground in the big pack, but when we get stew it is usually only 1 lb. of it.

              Some months you will get more of one animal type than another (I have had goat heavy and lamb heavy months), but rare is there a chicken or pork heavy month. I tend to get more pork than chicken, and chicken is seasonal. My husband wishes there were more BBQ friendly cuts (we get them, but he loves to BBQ)

              I love love the ground goat, and generally prefer their ground meats to regular store bought. I like their dry aged meat and prefer the taste of grass fed meat in general. My husband has become very adept at cooking grass-fed meat and my kids prefer rare to well done. This CSA would be an issue if you preferred grain fed taste and well done meat that wasn't dry (if that's possible : )).

              This is a CSA - you don't pick your cuts, and so if you are picky about cuts, then this doesn't work well. If you are indecisive like us and would rather people just pick them for you it works well. There are a few cuts I am less excited about when I get, but we always find a use for it that works well.

              1. On a similar note, what other meat/dairy/other non-produce CSA's are out there? I'm switiching to Mariquita CSA this year for produce, but since they don't offer add-ons, I'd like to find a source for meats, eggs, etc. Marin Farms looks like a great option, just looking for other input.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Abby0105

                  Mariquita often has meats and dairy from neighboring farms (and a few of their own cattle) too. Be sure to sign up for the mystery box list too. You'd need to pick it up at a special location, but worth it.

                  1. re: Windy

                    Just to clarify, Mariquita has pork from Linda's tasty pork, but you have to order full boxes which may be too much for some people. They occasionally have goat cheese and more often olive oil, but not much more of the non produce;. These aren't through the CSA but thorugh the Ladybug letter or a special delivery.

                    1. re: jsaimd

                      The pork is Linda's, but I've gotten Andy's beef, eggs, and milk. Sometimes they have Mariquita butter too.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Oops I had forgotten about the beef. Thanks for the reminder. I haven't yet seen the eggs and milk come down the peninsula for sale (although she has given them to hosts etc). They may offer more up in the city.

                        1. re: jsaimd

                          Their dairy products are never on the weekly email. They're only occasionally available and only if you pick up your box very early. But it's the best milk I've ever had. Ditto for the sheep's milk yogurt from Rebecca/Bellwether.

                          Loved the beef too.

                  2. re: Abby0105

                    You might get more responses if you post that question in a new topic.

                    1. re: Abby0105

                      Real Food Bay Area CSA offers all sorts of things including eggs, dairy, meat. www.realfoodbayarea.com