About the Animals:
What do we feed the pigs? The most important thing for the pigs' diet is that they get plenty of greens! In the winter and spring months we have them on pasture so they get a steady supply of the delicious grass that grows like wild fire. In the hot months when the grass stops growing they get kale and chard from our garden and unsalable green from other local organic farms. Along with their greens they get day expired organic fruit, bread from local food banks and organic, non-GMO grain. The expression "you are what you eat," goes for animals, too. With the pigs' healthy diet, you can be assured that this pork has the nutrition that your body needs.
What do we feed the chickens? Our chickens eat grass, bugs, worms, small rodents, greens from our garden and that of other organic gardens we work with. We also supplement with organic grains containing non-GMO corn, wheat, barley, and sometimes peas or soy. We do not have a soy free source that is consistent so we do not advertise soy even though at times we are soy free. Our plan in 2013 is to glean enough greens and veggies for the chickens' diet to move off of expensive grain as much as possible, which will also allow us to work with small suppliers of soy free without losing consistent delivery.
What do we feed the cows? Grass. Lots of it. Our cows are never fed grain. They start and finish on grass with no grain in between. In the dry months, if the grass on the land gets too depleted, we will lay down organic alfalfa.
What breeds of pigs do you raise? Gloucester Old Spot, Berkshire, Hampshire, Duroch, and Tamsworth. We strive to have a strong healthy animal vs. overbreeding in one strain. This allows natural selection and healthy animals to reproduce.
About the Food:
How long is the beef dry aged? 21 days. As the meat ages, it dehydrates from the outside inward and 15% to 20% of the meat is lost. However, the fat condenses into the meat giving it that amazing flavor and you end up paying for meat vs excess water.
Are your chicken eggs free-range? They are “pasture raised”, meaning actually raised out on grass in the fresh air and sunshine. Free Range Poultry is a legal definition stating: “chickens raised for their meat have access to the outside in order to receive the free-range certification. There is no requirement for access to pasture, and there may be access to only dirt or gravel . Free-range chicken eggs, however, have no legal definition in the United States. Likewise, free-range egg producers have no common standard on what the term means”.
Healthy chickens, whether they are layers or being raised for meat, need to actually BE on the pasture eating bugs, worms, small rodents, exercising and relaxing. They live with no stress. This is the practice we maintain.
Where do you slaughter and butcher your pigs and cows? They are slaughtered at the Marin Sun Farms processing facility in downtown Petaluma, only 5 miles from the farm. This allows for a short, low stress transfer. The process used to kill the animal is also low stress and instant. They are then sent to Golden Gate Meat Company to be custom cut to our specifications. We participate in these processes.
Where do you slaughter and butcher your chickens? Here on the farm.
What part of the pig do pork cuts come from??
Beef cuts come from what part of the cow?
How do I cook grassfed meat so it isn’t tough? The best way to cook pasture raised, grass fed meat is to start at room temperature. Allow the meat to thaw either in the fridge or on your counter. The biggest mistake is to overcook. Because these animals are exercising daily, they naturally have less fat in their muscle and thus will cook quite a bit faster.
The best rule of thumb is to use higher temperatures for less time. You will feel as though your meat isn't cooking long enough at first, but it's safe so long as it reaches minimum safe internal temperature- that's 165 degrees fahrenheit for chicken, 160 for pork and 145 for beef. Truly, the trick is not to over cook which, if you're new to cooking pastured meat, means checking frequently. Overcooking just dries the meat out and can often lead to rubbery textures.
Meat will continue to cook when you take it off the grill, out of the oven, etc, so it is always wise to test early and cook longer if needed.
Why is your meat so expensive? - Great question. The answer to this question is why I jumped into farming.
Our meat is much less expensive than that purchased in the grocery store. You are only paying a small portion of the cost of grocery store meat at the cash register.
Let’s assume the food in the grocery store is the same as the food here at Tara Firma. You pay $10 for lb of steak at the store. You pay another $800 in taxes through the farm bill…it is a subsidy you pay.These taxes pay for the following:
- 1 gallon of oil per pound to run the factories, grow the grain and ship the meat.
- Feedlot food travels 2000 miles on average to get to your table
- 2500 gallons of water to create 1lb of steak
- 10 lbs of grain = 1lb of steak
- 16% Green house gasses from feedlot cattle (methane).
- 184 billion cubic ft of methane emitted from factory farms each year.
- 14 billion lbs of toxic pesticides used each year to kill bad bugs while killing good bugs that build soil.
- 291 billion tons of waste from factory farms to clean up and dispose of.
- Factory farms and mono cropping are #1 pollutant of U.S. rivers killing ecosystems.
- 72% of all antibiotic used in the U.S are used on animals in factory farms.
- Cancer in the U.S. has skyrocketed to 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 woman by age 65.
- Average American is 30% overweight and 15% of our children are overweight.
The price tag is over $800 per pound of steak. You pay $10 at the counter and over $800 in tax subsidy called The Farm Bill.
Billions of dollars go to 10% of farmers or 72% of the subsidy. These are “corporate factory farmers”, feed lot conglomerates pushing chicken, beef and pork as hard as it can be pushed without regard to the health of the meat, the animal or the system from which it is created. It wreaks havoc on every aspect of our existence.
At Tara Firma and others farms like ours you would pay $20 for that same pound of steak and that’s it. All in. No outside subsidy. The cost is the cost. We don’t get you in hidden costs. We pay for the land, taxes, workers compensation. We have health insurance for our employees, we pay over minimum wage- not a lot but higher. We have a profit sharing plan and an equity plan for our leaders. We are a responsible business offering a responsible product at a responsible price.
We make no apologies to anyone regarding the price of our meat and accept all input with intent to help us improve our business.
And by the way, the first statement in this answer was to “assume the food in the grocery store” is the same as pasture raised here at Tara Firma. It’s not. It’s like comparing a lifeless desert to a soil-rich, dense grassland. Both are land. That’s about it.
Consistent stress over the entire life of an animal does not produce healthy meat. Stress-free, happy animals are the most important aspect of raising food. What they eat is second. Animals on pasture, treated with respect, produce healthy food AND add healthy manure to the soil to build the microbial life that supports plant life - all without antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and a host of other harmful toxins.
Why is the meat frozen? Without a meat counter to sell to our customers directly for consumption within the next few days, the risk is high for the meat to spoil, so we freeze it the one time. As we grow as a business, we are now entertaining the idea of a “Butcher Shop” in town that would allow for the purchase of fresh meat on a daily basis.
Can I thaw and refreeze meat safely? Yes! As long as it doesn’t get warm. Our meat has only been frozen one time. Meat in the grocery store is most often frozen many times in transport, gas packed (carbon dioxide) to make it look fresh (pink) when it can be weeks old and has been treated with a host of chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides.
Farmigo and Webstore Help:
How do I put myself on vacation hold?
Contact customer support at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707)-241-4350.
How do I update my payment information?
Log into your Farmigo home page (Member Login). Then click on 'Update Payment Details'. You will be prompted through the process from here.
How can I customize my order? – The A La Carte Option allows full customization for meats, vegetables and add-ons like yogurt and cheese.
Why aren’t there as many eggs in my order in the winter? – Laying hens have a natural process they go through each winter called “molting”. It comes on as the sun rises later and sets earlier. This is the time of year they “rest” from laying eggs. It allows their systems to recharge for the coming season of laying. Industrial egg laying facilities use lights to trick the hens into continuously laying. This exhausts the hens and is thought to lessen the health and well being of the bird, along with the nutritional value of the egg.
What meat will be in my next meat share? – It depends on what you have received in the last two deliveries. We strive to offer a different share each time so you enjoy all the cuts we have available. We do have an "A La Carte" share that allows you to choose your cuts each time!
What veggies will be in my next veggie share? – It depends on the season. We strive to give you a basic selection of salad makings and those veggies that grow naturally in the current season. You do have some flexibility to order shares that exclude cooking greens, or roots.
I'd prefer not to have pork in my meat share- can you accommodate that? - Yes! In fact, we have a few options for you to customize your shares: "No Beef", "No Pork", "No Chicken", "No Bacon" and "No Sausage". Sorry, but we cannot exclude specific cuts of meat (like roasts or ground beef) from regular shares. Please call or email us if you would like to put one of these notes on your order :)
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
Is your slaughtering process humane? Our motto on the farm is "one bad day", but we strive to make even that bad day as low stress as possible. Any animal processed for our CSA is treated with respect and we approach slaughter with that in mind. They are killed instantly, one at a time, to avoid unnecessary stress and herd panic.
Can I buy a whole animal from you (or a half an animal)? – Currently we are not set up to sell whole animals. Typically, we don’t have excess animals above and beyond our inventory for our CSA members. Depending on circumstances and season, we *may* be able to negotiate something, so it doesn't hurt to ask.
Do you sell live animals? – No.
Do you know where I can buy live animals? - No.
Will you adopt my roosters? - As much as we would like to help give a home to unwanted animals, we can't accommodate more roosters in our laying flocks. There are, however, animal rescue groups devoted to farm animals all over Northern California, and we encourage you to seek them out.
Can I come by and shop in the store if I'm not a member? - Of course! Our farm store is open 7 days a week to the public. We have produce, beef, pork and a whole host of organic local treats like cheese, honey, and chocolate available for purchase. Eggs are available depending on our supplies.
What kind of chicken lays the green and blue eggs? – Those pretty Easter Egg colors come from Ameraucana hens. There are several types that lay pink, blue, green and chocolate colors- lots of fun for the kids to see these in the egg carton!
Why aren't you certified organic? – We believe that our customers need to "participate" in the food that they eat. Being members provides them that opportunity. Open 7 days a week, our members have the opportunity to be accountable in this food system; to learn about their food and support the business of where their food comes allows them a chance to have a voice and be responsible for the food they eat. We are 100% transparent in all processes including our finances. The industrial process or any certification for that matter- removes that responsibility from the consumer. Given that, we only deliver locally, allowing our members to take responsibility to “certify” us for themselves.
How does this farm trap greenhouse gases? – Through the process of photosynthesis. As grasses grow they “breathe in” CO2, converting it into energy and carbon. The carbon is “sequestered” back into the roots of the plant and back into the soil where it belongs. High density rotational grazing by cattle (moving cattle daily so they only take the top portion of the grass) allows the grass to grow back quickly. While it grows it photosynthesizes ten times more CO2 (green house gases) back into the ground than a cow sitting in a feed lot or traditionally overgrazing. Assisting the grass to grow more during the year is one solution to global warming (see Marin Carbon Project for more science!)
*Due to CA gov't regulations, all chickens must be purchased directly from the farm.