Philly CowShare: Share the Beef!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
There are a million reasons to avoid buying from the grocery store when it comes to meat—the way the animals are treated, commercial production practices in terms of the environment, concerns about hormone use, etc. And some of us at Farm to Philly prefer to buy meat from local growers for those reasons, too. We also like that the food miles associated with local meat are seriously diminished. Luckily, it’s easy to buy locally grown meat in Philadelphia—whether you buy from the Fair Food Farmstand, direct from the farmer, at farmer’s markets, etc., we have access to everything from chicken to veal. However, there’s also another option we don’t see too much: the animal share. In case you didn’t know, we’ve got one in Philly CowShare. Last year, their first year in business, they sold fifty-five cows.
Philly CowShare offers locally grown, grass-fed beef shares at a variety of price points, the lowest of which is an eighth of a cow, or 40 lbs of beef. Oh, and if you go in on a whole cow with seven of your friends, you get a discount (Jessica Moore, one of the people who runs Philly CowShare, tells me that the meat isn’t discounted; rather, you get a discount due to a reduction in shipping charges). In addition to a variety of cuts (which are shared equally) and ground beef, you can also request bones, fat, and offal. Moore mentioned that the act of purchasing a whole cow tends to create a sense of community, and people often get together for cook-outs and meals that include cuts they get from th share, which is a nice side effect of the program.
Philly CowShare is attempting to redesign the normal supply chain of how we get meat. Their pillars of sustainability include:
- Financial (so the farmer makes a fair profit, but the cost of meat is still affordable)
- Environmental (which supports sustainable farming and better treatment of animals)
- Consumptive (CowShare issues a call out to consumer, asking them to eat sustainble meat, eat less meat, and eat whole animal)
In allowing Philly CowShare to be the middle man, it also frees up a farmer’s time. Moore calculated that if a farmer needs to sell a hundred cows (typical of a mid-size operation), assuming the need is eight people per cow and the farmer takes an hour with each customer, it would take five months to talk to everyone. Oy.
Unlike a regular CSA program, you can order a share at any time. Note, though, that it takes four to five weeks after a cow is butchered to deliver the meat—all the beef is dry-aged, so it takes a while. Right now they’re purchasing cows from three farms: Erdenheim Farm, Tussock Sedge Farm, and Herrdale Acres. They’re planning to add two to three additional farms in 2012.
Oh, and more exciting news: they’ll be adding pig shares in late spring/early summer 2012, along with grilling boxes consisting of hamburgers and hot dogs. Keep an eye on the Philly CowShare website or their Twitter account for that announcement.
If you’re a stickler for certified organic, Philly CowShare may not be for you—the people who run the program monitor the farmers, to ensure they’re using sustainable, hormone-free, and environmentally friendly growing practices, but they do not require a USDA organic certification (which can be cost prohibitive to small farmers) to participate in the program.
I Love Pot Roast
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I don’t cook much from recipes, so consider the photo and this little bit of commentary to be a reminder that pot roast exists and, if you’re an omnivore, that you should make it once in a while. The meat is a slab of london broil from Meadow Run Farms that I got through their buying club—grass fed, pasture raised, they take great care of their animals, and you can taste the difference. The vegetables (carrots, brown mushrooms, onions, and potatoes) came from Highland Orchards (DE)—some left from the fall CSA and the rest from Fitler Square Farmers Market. Thyme from my garden, parsley also Highland Orchards. I tossed in some wine (Chile) and capers (provenance unknown) with mashed up tomatoes from summer. Good stuff for a winter supper.
Where is your thanksgiving turkey coming from this year?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In a previous post, Nicole mentioned that Fair Food Farmstand is taking orders for local, humanely-raised turkeys for out Thanksgiving meals. If you’re anything like me, and finding that this holiday has snuck up on you a bit, then you’ll be happy to hear that the Farmstand has extended their ordering deadline. Whew!
Naturally-Raised Turkeys $2.99/LB
(Hormone & antibiotic-free, free-range)
Available weight ranges: 10-15 Lbs, 16-21 Lbs, 22-27 Lbs, 25-30 Lbs
Green Meadow Farm, Gap, PA
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov. 19th
Organic Turkeys $4.50/LB
(Certified Organic, raised on pasture)
Available weight ranges: 12-15Lbs, 15-19 Lbs
Spring Water Farm, Gap, PA
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov. 19th
“Bourbon Red” Turkeys $6.50/LB
(Heritage breed, hormone & antibiotic-free, raised on pasture)
Available weight ranges: 7-10Lbs, 11-14 Lbs
Griggstown Quail Farm, Griggstown, NJ
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov.16th
Although I personally won’t be consuming turkey at our annual Veg*n Thanksgiving Feast (we’ll roll with Ray’s Seitan), I’m sure many are happy to know that the Fair Food Farmstand is providing such a great opportunity to purchase Thanksgiving turkeys raised by local family farmers. Happy meal planning!
Local Turkey Source
Sunday, November 02, 2008
The Perfect BLT
Monday, July 07, 2008
For me, summer’s about the BLT. Not a lot of cooking involved and the better the tomato, the better it tastes.
This one has the last of the oak leaf lettuce from the garden (seeds from Seed Savers Exchange), tomato from Fitler Square farmers market, country French loaf from Versailles bakery (also Fitler Square—they have fantastic and unbelievably reasonably priced pastries as well), and cottage bacon from the Meadow Run Farm Buying Club.
Cottage bacon?? I’d never heard of it before, either.
It’s like a cross between Canadian bacon and regular bacon—nice and meaty, tastes terrific. (Apologies for the poor photo—makes us all appreciate food stylists now, doesn’t it.)
Near Eastern Meatloaf (by way of Lancaster County)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Part 2 of my first order with the Meadow Run Farms buying club (see Tortilla Espanola for Part 1; see link at left under “meat” for information on the buying club) was ground beef and ground lamb for my favorite meatloaf. In fact, I joined the club practically on the basis of its having ground lamb because it can be hard to find, local or otherwise, in grocery stores.
The ground meat is packaged in flat pouches that make defrosting much faster than a brick-like package. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it works for me. What you’re looking at is a pound each of beef and lamb.
What makes this meatloaf “near eastern” is the kefte-like spice and other additions. I don’t measure when I make this, so amounts are approximate:
1/3C chopped parsley
1 small onion, minced (in this case it was 1/3 of a bermuda onion from Rineer Family Farms)
2 carrots, grated (on the big side of a box grater)
2T pomegranate molasses
1T Syrian kefte spice (a mixture that I buy at Kalustyan’s in NYC)
1/4C dried currants or zereshk (barberries, a Persian food that is slightly sour)
(A handful of pinenuts is a nice addition, too.)
To this, you work the meats in with your hands. (If you want to check the seasoning before you bake the loaf, take a little and fry it in a pan for an approximation.)
Bake at 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes. This meat yielded a nice juicey loaf (the carrots help with this, too) with a wonderful lamb flavor. Could you go 100% lamb? Absolutely. Enjoy!
Grass Fed Beef Stew
Monday, March 03, 2008
Although it’s balmy today, over the weekend it was cold. Sundays I try to make a pot of something for eating and freezing, so on Saturday I went to the farmers’ market at Fitler Square and bought some beautiful, grass-fed eye round from Rineer Family Farms. Plus, very nice potatoes and red onions from them, too. (I find it so hard to find a good red onion even at the greengrocer, do you? They always look like someone’s been bowling with them.) From one of the vegetable stands (which name I forget—sorry!), I bought carrots and parsley. The other stew components were mushrooms (local), red wine, and such. Plus asparagus (I really needed something green) and bread from Sarcone’s. Good stuff, Maynard.
wintry, local food
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Obviously, eating local food in the winter takes a little more perseverance and planning than in the summer. The frequency and geographical locations of farmers’ markets may not be as profuse, but Philadelphia is certainly fortunate that there is still a diversity of local food available amid the winter cold. I’m still working for some of these local-food organizations, and I’ve done some investigation into other sources, so here are my thoughts!
Let me talk about Winter Harvest first, partly because I work for Farm to City but also because I’m posting this entry today primarily to remind everyone that it’s the last day to place your orders for February. Winter Harvest is a winter buying club run by Farm to City, and I’ve already described the way it works. (The ordering window closes TODAY at 5 pm, and if you don’t have an account already you can use PayPal to deposit some initial money.) There are literally hundreds of items—herbs and bread and coffee, almost any kind of meat cut desired, goat dairy products, and even some vegetables like potatoes (of course) and baby greens. And I’m sure you can make your weekly Thursday pick-up at one of our dropsites that’s convenient for you!
(Photo from Farm to City.)
Then, there are still two farmers’ markets that continue year-round in Philadelphia; both are on Saturdays, 10-2. The larger of the two is in West Philly at Clark Park, 43rd & Baltimore— and it is a superb farmers’ market anyway, in a wonderful neighborhood! (Not that I am at all biased by living within a couple blocks.) I know the market manager, and I asked him recently about what farmers are still coming during the winter. There is an Amish farmer with baked goods and noodles and eggs and such, Keystone Farm with apples and meat, Landisdale Farms with a variety of beautiful certified-organic vegetables and beef, Slow Rise Bakery, Margerum’s with the previously-discussed dried beans and a large selection of herbs & spices, Maury Sheetz with vegetables, Rineer Family Farms with roots and salad greens and (new!) beef, and Betty’s Tasty Buttons fudge. Every other week, there is also a farmer there with chickens… So, as Naomi has described before, clearly there’s still plenty of local food to enjoy these days! The other market is at Fitler Square, 23rd & Pine, which I think has two farms. I think one is called Highland Orchards—can anyone confirm this? They grow a variety of crops in greenhouses, but also may buy some vegetables to supplement their variety. Rineer Family Farms is also there over the winter, before moving back to Rittenhouse Square when it opens!
And of course there’s the Fair Food Farmstand, still conveniently open Tuesday-Sunday at the usual Reading Terminal hours. There are lots of apples and potatoes, mushrooms, citrus sourced through a PA co-op from family farms in Florida, a full selection of grass-fed meats and dairy, and treats like maple sugar and fudge and biscotti.
Dark days: the perfect burger
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Sometimes you just want a burger. And since the weather has been so incredibly wacky and totally unseasonable this week, we felt compelled to grill. With a couple of Angus burgers in hand from Buck Run Farm, I looked around to see what else I could throw on a burger. Some of the provolone from Cherry Grove Farm was the perfect cheese for it - it melts perfectly! And I had nearly forgotten about the bag of cute, little baby shiitake mushrooms from Oley Valley Mushrooms I purchased. They got a quick saute in local butter and went on top of the burger. The bun was a roll from Le Bus.
And the perfect finish: a bit of my homemade catsup.
It was the best burger I’ve had in a long time!
Coincidentally, I discovered something of interest when I was looking around the Buck Run Farm website. They only have a license to sell Angus burgers…but if you want steaks or a roast or something, Buck Run is willing to sell you a market-ready steer or part interest in one. I’ve heard of farmers doing this in other places, but I didn’t realize that any local farms offered this.
I can bring home the bacon
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I am not the biggest fan of bacon there ever was. I hate the smell of it, its mouthfeel, and - most of the time - the taste of it. And that’s generally worked in my favor - it’s not like your doctor wants you to run around eating pounds of bacon at every opportunity. We tend not to have bacon in the house, and I have been known to hit a butcher shop and ask for one or two ounces of bacon if I need it for a recipe.
Last weekend during my volunteer shift at the Fair Food Farmstand, I was weighing and pricing some double smoked bacon from, I think, Country Time Farm (no doubt someone will set me straight if I’m wrong on that). The other two volunteers were practically waxing poetic over the bacon. One claimed that the bacon was so good it had turned many a vegetarian back into a meat eater. Well. How could I pass up this magical bacon?
Well…the bacon is good. I’m still not bacon-crazy, but at least I found a bacon I don’t mind. It’s much thicker than normal bacon, so it’s a little chewier (as opposed to crisp) with a nice flavor. My husband thinks it puts off more grease than the bacon he normally buys.
While I still don’t intend to have bacon in the house all the time, the double smoked bacon will be my go-to bacon when I have to buy it.
Don’t be a turkey
Friday, October 12, 2007
Last year I ordered an organic, heritage breed turkey for Thanksgiving dinner through the Fair Food Farmstand. Even my in-laws, who admittedly are not foodies and don’t care so much about eating locally, commented on the great taste and juiciness of the turkey. We even discussed the benefits of eating meat that isn’t drenched in growth hormones, something a little too serious for Thanksgiving at my house usually. I can’t promise that eating an organic, heritage breed turkey will guarantee a discussion of anything other than grandchildren and the various Philadelphia sports teams at your own house, of course!
Thanksgiving is fast approaching (I’ve already started deciding what to cook). I’ll be participating in the 100 Mile Thanksgiving again this year, but you don’t have to be involved in that to want to try a locally grown turkey! There are quite a few options available, the easiest of which for me is ordering through the Fair Food Farmstand. I was recently alerted that they’ll be taking orders starting next week.
You might be able to find locally grown turkey at Whole Foods, and the farmer’s market in Collingswood, NJ definitely takes orders. To get straight to the source, though, try Woodsong Hollow, Bolton Turkey Farm, or Rumbleway Farm.
On the lamb
Saturday, September 15, 2007
We’re not big red meat eaters at my house. When I do get the yen for red meat, though, it’s usually lamb. For the last year I’ve been buying lamb from the Fair Food Farmstand. They carry a few different vendors’ lamb, but I most often have the Bixby’s Farms lamb. It’s absolutely delicious! This week I bought two packages of loin chops.
The marinade I used for the chops is simple - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a couple grinds of pepper. It’s a great marinade mostly because the rosemary, thyme, and garlic are right out of my garden. Marinade the chops for 1-4 hours, and you’re ready to go. I like lamb pretty rare, so the chops get grilled on high for about 4 minutes per side.
As a side, I made mashed celery root, potato, and garlic - yum! And all local, too!
Taste testing the pawpaw
Friday, September 14, 2007
Before scooping up my CSA share, I shopped a bit at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal. I really wanted to buy a round of LeRaysville Cheese Factory‘s Sommelier cheese and a carton or two of brown figs, but was out of luck with the fruit.
While I was there I picked up a few packages of lamb chops from Bixby’s Farms and a few celery roots (which are destined to become tomorrow’s dinner).
The nice lady who works the stand on Thursday gave me a taste of the new pawpaws they got in from Green Meadow Farm. I only recently learned that pawpaws are native to Pennsylvania, although I’ve never tasted one until today. They sort of have the texture of avocado with a sort of tropical flavor. I’m not entirely sure that I like them. Still, I did get to wondering what something like pawpaw butter (you know, like apple butter) might taste like.
Challenge meal week one
Thursday, September 13, 2007
For the first week of the September Challenge I wanted to make something simple. I’ve had some short ribs from Meadow Run Farms in the freezer so I figured what’s easier than braising some beef for a couple of hours. I found a couple of recipes and narrowed it down to the simplest. I set the meat out to defrost, decided I’d roast some potatoes to go with it and steam some green beans. I went out and bought a couple of bottles of local Cabernet. Then around 3.30 I got home and realized I’d lost the stupid recipe. I searched my browser history hoping it would turn up but it didn’t so I browsed my cookbooks and epicurious until I found a similar recipe and a good hour after I wanted to I got to work.
The biggest problem was that I didn’t RTFR. (thank you Smitten Kitchen for the perfect acronym.) I spent hours slaving over a hot stove in my un-air conditioned kitchen on a hot, humid Philadelphia summer day. The initial recipe called for all of the cooking on the stove top in a dutch oven, but the other recipes all called for the short ribs to braise in the oven. Never having made short ribs before I wasn’t willing to mess around. My dutch oven’s so large that cooking the potatoes in the oven was out so I decided to use my leeks and make mashed potatoes with leeks and thyme instead. Since I had a leek or two left over I found a recipe for swiss chard with leeks and made that instead of the green beans.
All of the cooking was extremely hands on and hot and by the time it was ready to eat I’d lost interest completely. The worst part was that the ribs weren’t even all that good. The chard and potatoes were fantastic, but the ribs just weren’t as flavorful as I would have hoped. And seriously, braised short ribs with mashed potatoes would have been fine on a crisp, almost fall day like today, but it was not an appropriate meal for last Saturday’s stickiness.
At least my husband liked it.
Short ribs- Meadow Run Farms
Chicken stock- made from chicken from Meadow Run farms
Cabernet- Chadd’s Ford
Rosemary- my garden
basil (instead of sage)- my garden
Carrots- Lancaster, Pa via Farm to City farmer’s market
Onion- Red Earth Farm
Garlic Red Earth Farm
not local- salt, pepper, tomato paste, oil, bay leaf
Potatoes- Red Earth Farm
Leeks- Red Earth Farm
Thyme- my garden
Milk- Merrymead Farm
not local-salt, pepper, butter
Chard-Red Earth Farm
Leeks-Red Earth Farm
not local, butter, oil, salt, pepper
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The other day I wandered into DiBruno’s and asked for what they had that’s locally produced. Despite getting the new guy in the cheese cave, he immediately pulled out the Birchrun Blue. I have been happily munching on it since then.
Birchrun Blue is an aged, natural rind, raw cow milk (from pastured cows) blue cheese produced by Birchrun Hills Farm in Chester Springs. Birchrun Hills is relatively new to cheesemaking, only cranking out cheese for a few years now. Of course, they’ve been the dairy business much longer than that. It’s an absolutely wonderful blue cheese that will even appeal to those that are not blue cheese fans.
The Birchrun Blue has a lovely creamy texture and a delicate blue cheese taste, nice and earthy. It’s perfect with slices of apple, and a fantastic melting cheese. I made burgers using some ground beef from Natural Acres and melted some of the Birchrun Blue on top - it was delicious! The rind is vaguely brie-ish, although pretty intense, flavor-wise.
Birchrun Blue can, as I said, be found at DiBruno Bros., and also at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market, as well as several farmer’s markets in the area.