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CSA for organic, pasture-raised meats, especially offal?

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nattiecakes Mar 27, 2012 08:34 PM

I found an older topic sort of related to this, but not exactly what I'm looking for. I currently get fruits and vegetables via Abundant Harvest Organics, and I like it a lot. I especially like that it forces me to be creative and make new things. I want to do the same thing with meat for the same reason, and because it'll cut down on trips to the grocery store. AHO lets you add on chicken but that's about it, and there aren't many options.

I'm lined up to buy a quarter cow from a small farm soon, but I am still interested in a meat CSA. Beef, poultry, and pork is all good, and so is anything that sometimes includes less common meats (goat, lamb, game, etc). I really want offal (liver and hearts mostly), if possible, and tongue and marrow bones and the like. I'm not too particular about the schedule, and I'm wiling to drive a while to pick things up as long as it's only monthly or less frequently (I live in San Gabriel).

So far all I've found on localharvest.org is Rainbow Ranch, which looks fantastic in theory but their webpage and LH.org listing is confusing to me (and they seem to contradict each other?). I'm going to ask them for information anyway, but I want to know if there are other options before I make a decision. Plus, it seems like Rainbow Ranch sells out fast, and their blog says April is already sold out. I haven't been able to find any listing that's clear about offal.

I'm willing to consider farms that haven't gotten their organic certification yet so long as they operate organically, but it's pretty important they be pasture-raised and grain-free. I really don't like having to pick out exactly what cuts/pieces I will be getting and prefer to buy many in bulk on a recurring schedule, although I'm willing to add offal on separately. Anything much more expensive than $10/pound is a bit much for me (my beef works out to about $7/pound).

Is there anything else out there? Thanks!

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    PattyC Apr 2, 2012 07:58 PM

    I almost hate posting this because it just creates more competition for me ;) but Rainbow Ranch is fantastic! I've been a member since August of last year. They don't ship offal and you can't reserve it but it's available first come, first serve on the monthly pick up day. I got there precisely at 10:00am and missed out on beef heart one time. Their offal is very inexpensive. I initially also found their website and listing very confusing and it took a few orders before I figured out how things worked. I started out with a trial order via LH and joined right away after I tasted their pork. The only problem with going to farm pick up is I've fallen in love with the kunekunes.

    Where are you getting your quarter cow? I've also ordered from Hat Creek Grown and like their beef a lot but they almost never have liver. I did get 3 beef hearts from them last month.

    The only other local source that I know of is the Cal Poly meat science department but it's not a CSA. I think you can only order once a year for fall and it's only whole/part of an animal. I'm not sure if they're entirely grain free.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PattyC
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      nattiecakes Apr 4, 2012 12:18 PM

      Thank you so much for the reply! I haven't been able to get ahold of Rainbow Ranch just yet (I'm more of an e-mail person and it's looking like I'll need to call) but that sounds great. I really should call...

      I got my quarter cow from Bear Creek Ranch. I was apprehensive at first because grassfed can taste awesome or awful depending on the grass, but I'm very pleased with the meat! It has a nice mild flavor on the whole, and it's INSANELY tender. The ribeye cut like a filet, no joke, plus nearly all the fat and connective tissue was soft enough to chew, not much gristle at all (the grassfed steaks I get from the store usually have a lot of gristle). And the shortribs were hugely meaty; I've never bought shortribs at the store before because they just looked like bones, but maaaaan, these were great. I wouldn't mind a more intense flavor, but the meat is still very good. I was able to get 3lbs of liver from them as well, added on; 12 lbs were available, but I didn't think I had the space. The rancher is a very nice man with a very gentle demeanor, and he let me know that if I want to order from them again I can do custom processing to ensure I get specific organs or marrow bones or whatnot. So I'm very happy with Bear Creek Ranch. (I wanted to leave a nice LH review but when I try to sign up for LH it gives me an error page. Hrm.) It's a 3.5 hour drive for me each way, but I'm willing to do that a few times a year if I need to.

      Thank you for the info about Cal Poly as well, I will look into it. Very much appreciated!

      1. re: nattiecakes
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        PattyC Apr 4, 2012 12:55 PM

        Yeah they're sometimes slow to reply to email. Calling usually gets a quicker answer.

        One thing I will point out is that Rainbow Ranch doesn't age their beef so while very tasty, it's not quite as tender as the dry aged grass fed beef I've had.

        Good luck!

        PS - Oh yes, since I started buying from farms and ranches I've found I can buy much cheaper cuts of steak and still have it be very tender. No need to buy filet anymore!

    2. TonyC Apr 4, 2012 12:58 PM

      I've always been curious about "Open Space Meats": http://openspacemeats.com/online-store.php

      They update their facebook regularly, and delivers into SoCal monthly: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-Sp...

      Looks like OSM just started carrying liver/marrow/tongue, but I don't see tripe. The 40 lb pack works out to be about $9/lb, which is probably breaking you budget.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TonyC
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        PattyC Apr 4, 2012 01:09 PM

        I've ordered from Open Space Meats and they were very easy to work with. My issue at the time was that they didn't offer offal or any bone in slow cook cuts like shank or short ribs which I love. Now that they carry offal, I may give them another try.

        1. re: PattyC
          TonyC Apr 4, 2012 02:23 PM

          very cool.

          Also, Jenn Garbee just retweeted this old piece of hers today: http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/2011/12/novy_ranch_cattle_ranch.php?page=2

          Their availability for "will call" at LA area FMs:
          http://novyranches.myshopify.com/pages/will-call-orders

          And their "offal" cuts: http://novyranches.myshopify.com/coll... (include ox tail, heart, kidney, cheek). $8/lb for grass fed ox-tail isn't bad at all, IMHO.

          Again, not a CSA, but close to the spirit of?

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