Posts Tagged ‘meat’

FRESHFARM Week: Me(a)t Smith Meadows Farm

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

The capital’s own FRESHFARM Markets is celebrating their 15th anniversary this weekend. Led by co-founders Ann Yonkers and Bernadine Prince, the now 11-market network in the metro Washington area (DC, Maryland and Virginia) has been promoting “local food with a face, a place and a name” throughout the Chesapeake foodshed since July 4, 1997. Alice Waters herself shops the original Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market when she’s in town, and local chefs proudly feature FRESHFARM farmers on their menus all across town. There will be an official celebration Sunday, July 15, at Dupont. Leading up to the big day, we here at FoodieTots are going to introduce just a few of our favorite FRESHFARM producers — the farmers we know by name and whose products grace our table every week.

Up first is Smith Meadows of Berryville, Va. You see, I believe in meat. I support Meatless Monday not because I’m anti-meat, but because I believe we should think before we consume it. And when we do, it should be healthful meat raised with care by farmers who are dedicated to the environment. Grassfed meat is richer in nutrients, leaner, and free of GMO feed and other bad things that come from feedlot meat.

smith meadows short ribs

Smith Meadows is an eighth-generation family farm that converted from conventional farming to natural methods in 1989. Farmer Forrest Pritchard practices rotational grazing of the farm’s cows, lambs, pigs, turkeys and chickens on pasture that is never treated with chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Nancy Pritchard makes fresh pasta each week from their free range eggs, organic flour and herbs, produce and cheese either from their own or other local farms {lemon verbena pasta pictured below}. Smith Meadows’ eggs are often the first to sell out at the market. We’ve enjoyed their brisket, pork, turkey, lamb and much more over the years.

smith meadows pasta

You can find Smith Meadows each week at FRESHFARM Dupont Circle — and at the Del Ray Farmers Market in Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church markets.

(You can learn more about what it takes to run a farm like Smith Meadows on Farmer Forrest’s blog or find them on Facebook. You know we’re on Facebook, too, right? Get all our latest posts, and more, right in your news feed.)

Moroccan Lamb Stew {and Del Ray & Dupont Winter Markets}

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

After an extended holiday absence, we finally made it back to the Del Ray Farmers Market this past weekend. The winter market is small, with ringleaders Tom the Cheese Guy and Smith Meadows meats holding down the fort. There’s a new vendor this year, The Dressed Up Nut, selling sweet spiced nuts and gluten-free biscotti. I had a hankering for stew and picked up the convenient pre-cubed lamb meat from Smith Meadows.

I was also craving some fresh produce, so it was off to Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm Market on rainy Sunday morning. It was the off week for Next Step Produce (who alternates weeks in the winter) so I missed out on my watermelon radishes. These pretty carrots were a welcome shot of color in the dreary weather, though, and made their way into my Sunday night stew as well. (I think they were from New Morning Farm, but I’m not positive.) I also picked up some ravioli from Copper Pot (newish to the Dupont Market, I reviewed Chef Frigerio’s pasta last spring) for a farmers-market-fast-food dinner later in the week.

When it came time to cook the stew, I wanted to keep it relatively light, so I went with Moroccan seasonings as found in an Epicurious recipe. I added fingerling potatoes and those carrots, and instead of using the orange zest called for in the original recipe, I just squeezed the juice from a clementine into the pot at the end. (The husband has a thing about citrus zest.) Served over cous cous, it was a flavorful, warming winter stew. Best of all, it elicited a hearty, “I LOVE it,” from the boy, who asked for seconds of both meat and carrots. (And ate the side salad, but that’s another post.)

Recipe: Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Stew
adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • juice of 1 clementine or mandarin orange
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions: Combine salt and spices in a bowl, then add lamb cubes and toss to coat. Heat olive in dutch over over medium high heat. Brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove lamb to a bowl. Lower heat to medium and add onion and garlic to pot; cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and return lamb to pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover, reducing heat to medium low, and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots and cook another 15-20 minutes, until lamb is tender. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice. Serve over cous cous and garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 6 servings.

Free Range, Grass-Fed Beef (and Pork and Chicken)

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Part V of the Sustainable Family Supper series, and my submission to this week’s Fight Back Friday, hosted by the Food Renegade.

It’s probably obvious by now that we are not vegetarians by any means. I actually did abstain from red meat for nearly 5 years during my idealistic youth (high school and college) for “ethical” reasons, but was converted back during a Christmas visit to my Italian grandparents who served meat three times a day. My now husband, then friend, took me out for my first post-vegetarianism steak when I got back to college after the winter break. I was ecstatic to finally be able to order In-n-Out burgers with meat, and jumped back into omnivorism with barely a second thought. Fast forward nearly a decade, and my renewed interest in healthy, sustainable food led me to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’d already sampled local, grass-fed meats from local farmers markets on occasion, but wasn’t fully committed to paying the higher price on a regular basis. Pollan’s book and my subsequent research set the ball rolling and we now strive to eat only grass-fed, pastured, hormone-free and preferably organic (and GMO-feed free) meat. I still have a little omnivore’s guilt when eating lamb or veal (cue cute baby animal images), but I was inspired to hear local sustainable agriculture hero Bev Eggleston speak at a Slow Food dinner last year about his own conversion from Berkeley vegetarian to pig farmer. As he explained, to solve the problems of conventional meat production you have to participate in the process and use your dollars to vote for sustainable solutions.

grass-fed pastured beef cows

Why Grass-Fed, aka Pastured, Meat? Without getting into the complex and hotly-debated issue of whether grass-fed cows fart more than feedlot-cows (yes, there are real scientists researching that!), there are true health benefits to grass-fed meat. Plus, you avoid supporting “Confined Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs or feedlots), which are essentially concentration camps for animals and which I am sure you have heard about elsewhere. (If not, read this, this, and/or this.) Other benefits include:

  • Grass-fed meat is higher in vitamins, especially vitamin E and D, which only comes from exposure to sunlight.
  • Grass-fed red meat is leaner, lower in fat and calories than conventional, and higher in better fats (Omega-3s).
  • Grass-fed means no genetically-modified (GMO) corn or soy feed, reducing the amount of corn byproducts (pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.) you consume. (You have seen King Corn, haven’t you?) – health benefits via Eat Wild.

One thing to note about grass-fed meat is that in much of the U.S., it is a seasonal product. Alice Waters reportedly turned down EcoFriendly’s meat for her Inaugural dinner event because it was not available fresh in January. In the winter, animals can’t always graze outdoors so be sure to ask your local vendors what they’re feeding in the winter months — ideally, it will be organic feed they grow themselves. If it is entirely grass-fed, you’ll probably have to buy it frozen. Just defrost it gently in the refrigerator and be sure not to overcook (medium rare is ideal), as leaner grass-fed meat becomes tough if overcooked.

Where to find grass-fed meat: The first place to look for local, grass-fed meat is your local farmers markets. Visit localharvest.org to find a market or ranch near you; Eat Wild‘s state-by-state grass-fed directory can also help. At the grocery store, ignore the meaningless “all natural” label and choose organic if you can, but ask the butcher if they carry any grass-fed brands. (If not, ask them to consider it!)

Grass-fed Meat in DC/NoVA: Joel Salatin’s Polyface, featured in Omnivore’s Dilemma, is right here in Virginia, and you can purchase their meats through their buying clubs. Bev Eggleston’s EcoFriendly co-operative is created in the Polyface model (Bev worked with Joel before branching out on his own) and is the gold standard for family-farmed, pastured meat in the area, with many of DC’s and NYC’s top chefs relying on EcoFriendly meats (including Cathal Armstrong at Restaurant Eve and Todd Gray of Equinox). Other smaller, family-owned farms are represented at nearly all of our local farmers markets. I’ve personally sampled and recommend the following:

  • Babes in the Woods, (Dillwyn, VA); rare-breed, forest-fed pork; at Old Town Alexandria, Clarendon and Charlottesville Farmers Markets.
  • Cibola Farms (Culpeper, VA); buffalo, pork, beef, goat, chicken; available at Dupont, Penn Quarter, Mt. Pleasant, Kingstowne, Burke, Falls Church, Reston, Dale City, Mt. Vernon, Fredericksburg Farmers Markets.
  • EcoFriendly (Moneta, VA), beef, pork, lamb, poultry, rabbit, Arlington/Courthouse and Dupont Farmers Markets.
  • Fields of Athenry (Purcellville, VA); lamb, beef, poultry; see website for drop-off locations.
  • Hilldale Farm (Palmyra, VA); organic chicken; at West End Alexandria Farmers Market.
  • Smith Meadows Farm (Berryville, VA); beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, goat; at Chevy Chase, Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Del Ray, Dupont, Falls Church, Glover Park, Palisades, Takoma Park Farmers Markets.
  • Smith Family Farm, (Gainseville, VA); beef, pork, poultry; at Burke, Kingstowne, Occoquan, Palisades, Vienna Farmers Markets – and on Twitter!

Local (NoVA) Butchers:

And look for the Spring issue of Edible Chespeake, with a cover story on buying beef directly from the farmer.