JP and I have decided that we are no longer going to buy “mystery meat” from the grocery store. I am not going to bring home “Grade AAA meat from US and Canadian sources” because I don’t even know what that means. Where in the US? Where in Canada? How come the packaging can’t tell me the appropriate details? North America is a big place. I want to know the specific farm that my meat comes from, not just the country (and even that is dubious when two are listed).
Why Are We Doing This?
It’s more expensive and also more work to source local, sustainable products. So, why bother? Why not just go to the grocery store and make life simple? Well, I think it’s important to support local farmers and also understand exactly what I’m putting into my body. Eventually we would like to convert as many of our grocery products as possible to “farm to fork” options. For now, we are starting with meat.
Where Did We Go?
VG Meats is a family business, which I think is fantastic. They raise their own beef and only partner with local poultry and pork farmers. They even let you take farm tours so that you can better understand their operations. There is no mystery behind their meat, which is why we decided to give them a try. My friend DK is the one who inspired me to start making more informed choices and I’m so glad that she did. She tells me that we will taste the difference in the meat and I’m excited to see if that’s true.
What Was Our Experience Like?
Our experience at VG Meats was mixed. Like most retail locations, the service depends highly upon which customer service representative you happen to be dealing with. We had one individual who was fantastic and another who was quite rude and impatient. I will say that every family member I have encountered has been incredibly polite, genuine, and deeply invested in their business (which, I suppose, is to be expected). As for whether or not we will return, we will have to see how the products taste!
What Did We Get?
For our first visit, JP and I purchased one of the freezer specials. You save quite a bit of money doing it this way, plus we won’t have to separate and vacuum seal a bunch of fresh (read: raw) meat. We also liked the fact that we could customize our order because we needed extra chicken to share with Grams (we eat a LOT of chicken between our two households). In addition to the freezer special, we also purchased some fresh meat products.
In total, we ended up with close to 90 pounds of meat (you read that correctly) for well under $500. We think that’s a fantastic price because we got to choose the cuts we wanted, which isn’t possible at a lot of local farms that don’t have retail storefronts. Maybe it’s a little less authentic, but on the bright side, we won’t need to buy meat for a very long time.
What’s The Next Step in Our Food Journey?
VG Meats is a one stop shop for meat, which is convenient. My friend DK sources her meat from different locations depending on what each region is known for. Apparently, Stratford is known for pork, so that’s the only place she will get pork from (and she purchases the full animal without wasting any parts because she’s awesome like that). I am not sure that we are ready for such a commitment, but I am happy with the baby step that we took today. I’m proud of where our money went and the food that we brought home.
Next, I would like to find local farms where we can buy our eggs, dairy, and produce products from. Many of the small farms in our area don’t have an online presence, so we will have to do our sourcing the good old fashioned way: take a drive in farm country and look for some “fresh egg” signs! Car rides are one of B’s favourite things ever and JP and I quite enjoy exploring too (especially in the country). Handing money directly to a farmer will help me feel more connected to the process and to what I’m serving my family.
Do you practice the farm to fork philosophy?