Valley Bounty, August 24: Beef
Late August: time to cram in must-do summer activities before it’s too late. If you’ve let the prime grilling season go by without cooking a local hamburger or steak, better fix that oversight! Burgers benefit from juicy local tomatoes, fresh onions, and crisp lettuce (plus some local cheese or bacon, if you like!). Dress your steak simply with salt and pepper, or slice and serve with peppers, onions, salsa and cilantro at a taco bar.
CISA’s list of beef producers is here. Remember that you can put your own zip code in at the bottom to find farms closest to you. Many local farmers’ markets include beef producers, and retailers that prioritize local sourcing have locally grown beef. Several farms in the Pioneer Valley also offer meat CSA shares.
Confused by the terminology of local beef? Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown has a handy guide to beef cuts on their website. Foxbard Farm in Shelburne and Chase Hill Farm in Warwick provide good explanations of the benefits of grass-fed meat.
New York farmer and author Shannon Hayes has published three cookbooks on grassfed meat. The newest, Long Way on a Little, provides tips and recipes for eating good meat without breaking your budget, but also wrestles with the bigger questions about paying farmers a living wage for growing well-raised meat in a nation where income inequality continues to grow. You can find recipes, tips, and good thinking at grassfedcooking.com.
One economical way to buy local beef is to purchase in bulk. Read our tips on bulk buying here.
Most local beef is sold frozen, so it’s already preserved. But if you’d like to add locally grown condiments, here are a couple of recipes to try.
Relish: Zucchini relish is one of the canned goods that my family most likes (in contrast to ketchup: I love my canned ketchup, but my kids’ love Heinz). This recipe is close to what I like to make. You can also get delicious ready-made local relish from Local Hero member Relish the Harvest.
CISA’s food preservation resource page is here.