For those who include meat in their diet, sourcing your beef/pork/chicken/lamb from local ranchers who graze their stock using nature-based, sustainable farming methods is the best way to do this short of raising the animals yourself. Our past interviews with Joel Salatin offer deep detail on what these nature-based (and much more humane) methods are.
But what specifically should you look for when choosing a provider to buy your meat from?
Additionally, most folks don’t realize how important the butchering process is to how well meat tastes. What qualities are important to look for in a butcher?
Former rancher and current meat-repreneur, Adam Parks, joins us for this week’s podcast to give practical guidance on these questions, as well as recipe and cooking tips for how to get the most out of the meats we eat. After all, if you go to the trouble to select the healthiest product and get the best butchering, you want to ensure the meals you make from it are prepared well, too.
Parks runs Victorian Farmstead Meat Company, a meat CSA, which sources from the plethora of small-scale sustainable ranches and farms throughout Sonoma County, California. (Full disclosure: I’ve served as an advisor to his company, as well co-run a much larger CSA with him in the past)
We understand if dedicated vegetarians prefer to skip this podcast. But anyone who includes meat in their diet really should listen all the way through — out of care and respect for your own health & palate, as well as for the animals you eat.
Click the play button below to listen to Adam’s interview with Adam Parks (56m:28s).
Adam Taggart: Hello and welcome to the Resilient Life broadcast. Resilient Life is part of peakprosperity.com. It’s where we focus on practical and actionable knowledge for building a better future. I’m your host, Adam Taggart. If you enjoy eating meat, you’re going to really like today’s podcast. With me is Adam Parks, founder of Victorian Farmstead Meat Company, which sources, butchers and sells cuts from sustainably raised grass fed animals throughout northern California. Today’s podcast should be both educational and fun. Adam’s a friend of mine and we’ve done business together. He and I have helped grow Victorian Farmstead over the past few years and for much of last year, we ran a much larger meat CSA that operated off of 250 acres. In a future podcast, Adam and I will do our best attempt to share the best practices we’ve learned from our forays into local investing. But today, we’re here to talk about meat. Why does how an animal is raised matter so much to the quality of the meat? What’s the difference between organic, pasture raised, and grass fed? Does the way meat is butchered matter? What are some of the best ways to prepare and preserve meats? Adam and I will kick back and spend the next 45 minutes or so doing our best to answer these questions and more. Adam, thanks for joining us today. You ready to get started?
Adam Parks: Yeah. You bet. Thanks for having me.
Adam Taggart: Aww, it’s going to be fun. Well first off, why don’t you provide a little background on your own expertise with meat. You grew up on a ranch in Tomales, California, right?
Adam Parks: That’s right. We had about 1,000 acres on the south end of Tomales. Tomales is a little teeny town right on the coast about an hour and a half from San Francisco. And we had at any given time, 1,200 to 1,500 head of sheep and a variety of other animals on the property. And that’s where I got my start through 4-H and working the ranch with my parents in terms of learning how to raise animals for meat.
Adam Taggart: Great. And then what got you into doing what you’re doing at Victorian these days?
Adam Parks: You know, my family and I went through a pretty rough time in 2008 when the housing crisis hit Central California. I’d love to tell you that it was all of the banks and corporations fault, but I made plenty of bad decisions of my own. And we basically lost everything. And we lost our house. We lost our cars. We lost our business in the central valley and really had nowhere to go. And we were very fortunate that my grandfather in 1972 had bought this little farm in Sebastopol, and the house was made available to us. And the first thing that I realized when we got there was we had all of these mouths to feed. I didn’t have a job and we had to fix that first. And so, I went back to my roots and started raising animals for meat just to fill our family freezers. And at that point, thought I had come up with a pretty good idea as far as how to get the beautiful locally raised meats that we have here in Sonoma County to the general consumer. And so, we started doing Farmer’s Markets. And our business model went through a couple of different iterations before we got to where we are today. But that’s how Victorian Farmstead got started was simply having to feed my family.
Adam Taggart: Great. And it was funny, when I was looking to relocate up here to Sebastopol, I came across your business during one of my first tours of the town. And had never heard of a meat CSA before. I just thought that was the coolest idea. Maybe just take two seconds and explain to people what a meat CSA does. I know Victorian does a bit more than that, but . . .
Adam Parks: Sure. The meat CSA, so a CSA in general goes back a couple hundred years and the idea behind is basically, to provide capital to the farmer, or in this case, the rancher to be able to absorb his costs over time before the big harvest with fruits and vegetables, and whatnot is typically in the summer and fall months. For us it was designed to give us a cash influx, so that we could plan our harvest and be able to provide meat year round. Where in the past, the ranchers that I work with would seasonally raise their meat, so that all of the animals went to slaughter at one time, and they were used to getting one big check a year that would carry them throughout the year. So by designing a CSA specific for meat, it provided a steep discount to our customers and we were able to know that we would need