Meat from CSA - not vacc sealed. Is this "normal"?
After sampling their wares at our local farmers market (porck breakfast sausage and ground beefalo) I joined a local meat CSA. It's an unusual one because you get to pick what you want each month & they deliver it. There is a minimum order total for each month.
So ... what I've learned is that while the ground products (pattties, ground meat, sausage) are all cryovac sealed, the solid cuts of meat are not. Roasts, whole chickens, etc come in a plastic bag that is not vacc sealed.
Everything is frozen, of course. And I've seen some freezer burn on a couple roasts & the whole chickens. Not terrible ... but when a roast is $7-$9/lb and a chicken is $4.50/lb ... it makes me wonder if this is not normal practice.
Thoughts? Should I drop out of the CSA & start looking for another supplier? These folks seem like nice people but I'm not thrilled with whoever is doing their meat processing - unless this is normal for smaller farms?
Good feedback, thanks! I have a FoodSaver & can vac seal things, the trouble is when they arrive with some freezer burn already visible. Or, in the case of the whole chickens, they were frozen into a body position that makes them hard to fit into a vac seal bag. I could stuff a chicken into a bag if it was fresh & limp, but when its been frozen so the drumsticks are flopped out to the sides it's not going to fit.
Maybe I'll just order a large quantity of the ground meat products on the next couple months & pass on the rest of the year. The freezer burn isn't a huge problem on roasts since it's small (and after a long braise it's not even noticeable). But for steaks ... I think it will be an issue in the summer.
As an organic meat producer who is friends with CSA farmers, one difference is the scale of meat packing. With perhaps one steer or at most two, the packing is done by hand. Vacuum packing or shrink wrap equipment costs more and isn't particularly necessary as long as the wrapping is good. The bacterial exposure is usually far, far less than commercial meat packing as well. I use freezer weight two gallon zipper plastic bags. There is a good seal and no freezer burn. I've also seen plenty of freezer paper used. They work. There's no problem. If your meat tastes great, stop worrying. If you insist upon vacuum sealing, I guess you can get a home sealer easily enough.
I wonder if they had a problem with sharp bones piercing the bags when they pulled a vacuum on them?
We joined a meat CSA for one quarter and decided not to continue. Packaging was one of my issues as well. All in all we just decided it was not worth it for us even though some of the products were very good.