Monday, November 17, 2008

Matt explains what it's like to have a meat CSA

For the past 11 months, I’ve belonged to a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program where I get meat delivered once per month. On the second Tuesday of every month, Mr. Houde drives a refrigerated truck from Vermont down to my home in Somerville, Massachusetts and delivers me a 10-pound bundle of individually-frozen beef, pork, and veal.

I belong to a CSA because I want to know that I’m eating quality food and supporting responsible family farming. With the mystery meat at the supermarket, it’s hard to tell what I’m getting. What did those animals eat? Does it come from an overcrowded factory farm polluting water and stinking up the town? Any downers in that pound of hamburger? Compare that to the Houdes, who welcome visitors to their farm to see how the animals are being raised and how well they are being treated.

I never know exactly what I’ll get in my share from month to month. Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to get an endless supply of ribeye steaks every month, but when they do come on occasion, they’re delicious! So, I need to come up with lots of ways to use ground beef (about half of my share is ground meat), things like pork shoulder, veal loin chops, and some of the tastiest sausage I’ve ever had.

Overall, I’ve been very happy getting my meat straight from the farm, which without a CSA or an early visit to the farmers market, can be very hard to find. When I go out to a restaurant, I find myself ordering more vegetarian or non-beef/pork/veal options; I know the meat I have at home is better quality. The other night I made a batch of pulled pork and I’ve been enjoying it all week. And that about sums it up: I get great food at a reasonable price and the family raising it has the stability of a guaranteed customer they know they’ll sell it to every month.

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