Finding Quality Meats During The Coronavirus

Reader Contribution by Kurt Jacobson
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Pop’s Old Place Lineback beef

You probably started to hear about food shortages in the middle of March like many of us did. But when the Smithfield pork processing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota closed in early April, consumers were given a first glance at how a significant meat shortage might unfold.

Joel Salatin, a famous farm writer from Virginia, has warned for years how the industrial meat machine was bad news. On April 14th, Joel posted on Facebook about Smithfield and the hazards of the US relying on the big meat producers. What Joel didn’t cover was where to buy pork, beef, lamb, and chicken that’s not from a food factory.

Even though most of us are ordered to shelter in place, we still have options where to buy meat and veggie products when the supply chain breaks down. There are over 12,000 small farms in Maryland and 44,000 in Virginia, selling some of the best natural meats and produce money can buy. If you search the internet for a place to buy meats, veggies, and eggs away from the crowd, you might be surprised at the choices where you live.

One of the best sources is your local farmers’ markets. Search for a market close to where you live and look at the farmer’s market website’s Vendor list. If the farmers market is closed, check their vendor list for small farms currently offering home delivery or onsite farm stands.

A quick search should yield several places selling beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and produce for your family’s needs. Another good source to find vendors in your area is localharvest.org where farmers’ markets, small farms, and other sources of farm-fresh foods are available.

Those of us that live in the Baltimore and DC area have many excellent choices for clean, quality meats and veggies. Maryland has lots of farmer’s markets and small farms to choose from. Here are some of my favorite sources for meat and veggies.

Flying Plow Farm, Joppa, Maryland

I usually buy their organic veggies at the Havre de Grace Saturday market. They go to other area farmers’ markets and sell at their farm Saturdays 9-12 and Tuesdays 3-5. Customers should pre-order online for pickup at the farm, farmers’ markets, or home delivery if you are in their service area to avoid being disappointed.

Third Way Farm, Havre de Grace, Maryland

Customers that know about this local farm have a source for year-round produce, meats, and eggs. Third Way Farm offers a CSA (community supported agriculture), an onsite farm stand open Wednesdays/Fridays from 2:30-6:30, and they attend the Havre de Grace Farmers Market on Saturdays in season. I love their veggies, pork, eggs- from pasture raised chickens, and micro-greens. They also sell lamb, but I haven’t tried theirs yet.

Baltimore Farmer’s Market, Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

This is the big daddy of Maryland farmers’ markets. I go every year for plant starts in spring, and meat, veggies, fruit, and flowers the rest of the April-November season. Check their website for an extensive vendors list and updates on a revised opening date. My favorite vendors are Catspaw Organics, Albright Farms, and Two Boots Farm.

One Straw Farm, White Hall, Maryland

I found One Straw Farm at the Bordy Vineyards Thursday market about eight years ago. I love their high-quality organic produce and the knowledge they share when I ask questions about growing veggies in my backyard. I haven’t tried their pork yet, but plan to do so soon.

If you are in their service area, consider signing up for their CSA, or find them onsite Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at their White Hall farm stand.

In season find One Straw Farm at several Baltimore area farmers markets like the 32nd Street Farmers’ Market and the Kenilworth Farmers Market.

Anne Arundel County Farmers’ Market, Annapolis, Maryland

The Anne Arundel Farmers’ Market has been in business since 1981 and operates year-round. Serving the south-of-Baltimore region, they have a wide variety of vendors like Cabin Creek Heritage Farm selling woodland pork, pastured poultry, heritage beef, pastured rabbit, meadow lamb, and microgreens. Windermere Farms sells mushrooms; Good Luck Farm has plants, herbs, and greens. Several other vendors sell things like honey, strawberries, fruit, and dairy products.

Delmarva Peninsula

Pop’s Old Place

This farm has been awarded the Century Farm designation due to 100+ years in the same family. Pop’s Old Place sells grass-fed Randall Lineback beef, a rarity, Katahdin lamb, and Mulefoot pork. All of the animals are raised on site, as natural as possible, and I can tell you the taste is excellent.

They welcome farm visits so you can see how the animals are treated. Browse the freezers in the farm store or order ahead of time and get a half or whole lamb like I do. Some customers come from the DC area knowing Pops sells some of the best meat money can buy. Pop’s is open on weekends from 1-2 and by appointment.

Easton Farmers Market, Easton, Maryland

This creative farmers market has changed the way customers buy products during the pandemic. Offering a drive-through method of buying makes it easier for social distancing. Buy seafood, veggies, craft kombucha, meats from Breakaway Farms and Apple Ridge Farm at the Easton Farmers’ Market.  This shopping trip might be a fun option for a Saturday outing. Check their website for updates, information on pre-ordering, and products offered before you go.

Your Area

Wherever you live, there probably are options for quality meats and produce not in a grocery store setting. It may take a bit of searching, but I believe you will find a healthy source for meats and veggies that will help small farmers during the pandemic. With most restaurants closed or operating at a much lower capacity, small farms have lost a big chunk of their business and could use some help to get through this mess. By helping small farmers you can help yourself to high-quality meat and produce that tends to be better than what you get from grocery stores and keeps you away from crowds. Stay safe and sane. This virus will pass.

Kurt Jacobson writes about travel, food, wine, organic gardening, and most anything else from his varied professional life. His articles appear in Alaska Magazine, Fish Alaska Magazine, Metropolis Japan Magazine, Edible Delmarva Magazine, North West Travel and Life Magazine. Kurt lives in the Baltimore, MD area with his wife, dog and cats. Kurt’s articles also appear on several websites, including GoNomad.com, Trip101.com, Adventuresstraveler.com, and several others. Kurt is a regular contributor to GoNomad.com writing about Alaska, Colorado, New Zealand, Japan, and the Mid-Atlantic areas. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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