FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is pastured meat?
A. Our beef, pork and lamb are raised in a pastured, free range setting. Most meat bought at the grocery store is raised in the agri-business industrial system of confinement and total grain feeding. Our animals free range and forage for grass and also roots in the case of the pigs. They also eat kale and beans that is grown just for them on our small family farm, along with all the leftover fruit, berries and weeds from our gardens. The animals live in humane conditions with sunshine, fresh air, pasture, exercise, and drink pure well water. Barns, covered stalls and pig huts filled with bedding straw protect the animals from all types of inclement weather. Our hogs have wonderful mud holes which they wallow in during the heat season. We ONLY use antibiotics in rare circumstances when the life of the animal is at risk. Most of our animals have never had antibiotics. We do not use any type of chemical manipulation or growth hormones on our farm. Our animals are cared for lovingly and have a happy contented life at Merrymoon Farm. Mike, our farm hand, actually brushes the pigs on a daily basis, and they love this!! Providing a low stress environment keeps the animals happy and us too!
Q. What does the term heritage breed mean?
A. With the advent of intensive farming, certain breeds of animals were better suited to mass production needs. The factory-like conditions of close confinement and grain feeding created the need for a different type of animal and the modern indoor pig was born, that suited these specifications. In this same time period, many breeds of swine also became endangered, or even extinct, as small farms began to disappear due to the pressures from the large agri-business interests.
Heritage breed pigs are the older breeds of pigs, which have come back into favor with a lot of farmers, because they are generally more docile and therefore easier to handle, are terrific mothers and of course, they taste great! Tamworths, Large Blacks, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Yorkshires, and Berkshires are some of the heritage breeds we raise here at Merrymoon Farm. We also raise heritage breed West Highland cattle and Katahdin “hair” sheep, both considered heritage breeds.
Q. Is the meat organic?
A. We do feed our pigs some non organic grain, especially in the winter when there is less grass. They also receive hay in the winter months, as do our cattle and sheep. Therefore, our pork can not be called organic. We do all we can to minimize the use of any chemicals, but we are not certified organic.
However, we’d like to encourage you to think of our meat as “beyond organic.” The grass fed concept has many health benefits which are not necessarily a part of the organic grain fed system. We use the term beyond organic, because many organically grown animals are fed a complete diet of grain and confined to stalls. Grain does not necessarily have the Vitamin E or Omega 3 Fatty Acids that grass does. As pastured animals free range on pasture and are not confined, they have a totally different life style, which can bring many health benefits to their meat. For more reading on this very interesting subject: Pasture Perfect by “New York Times best selling author” Jo Robinson.
Q. How is your meat different than what I buy in the grocery store?
A. Our customers tell us that this meat is distinctively more flavorful than most meats found at the local supermarket, where the meats tend to taste homogenized and bland, lacking the nuances and succulence of pasture raised animals. Eating these meats will make a believer out of you, as it has done in our family. Add in the health benefits of the natural way these animals are grown and it’s easy to see that these meats are an exceptional product!
Q. What do the terms live weight and hanging weight mean?
A. Live weight is simply the weight of the animal when he arrives at the butcher. The hanging weight is the carcass weight before processing and packaging. In pork there is approximately 55% loss from live weight to wrapped meat. In beef the figure is approximately 58% and in lamb the loss figure is 60%. These are very general and approximate figures. These will vary with type of breed, size of animal and a variety of other factors.
Q. What does the meat cost?
A. Please see the products and pricing page for specific information on price. However, it is important to note that buying meat by the whole or half, allows the consumer to purchase a wide variety of cuts, including roasts, steaks, chops that are processed to their specifications. The overall price is very reasonable when compared to natural meat products at Whole Foods, Wegman’s or Kroger’s. Please remember that this meat is grown in a very different process than most of the meat bought at your local supermarket. There is a reason it is called “slow food.” It takes much longer (often double the time), to raise these animals that enjoy the pastured life style, with all it’s derived benefits, than it takes to raise the animals that find their way to dinner tables from the regular grocery store.
Q. Do I need a freezer?
A. Ordering meat in large quantities like this requires a large freezer section in your fridge or a freezer. One processed pork will fill a freezer on a medium size refrigerator.
Q. I’m interested. How do I order meat?
A. If this is the first time you have purchased meat this way, may we suggest that you start by giving us a call. We are happy to answer your questions and we will help get you informed about the process and your options. Please call Bill at (540) 303-9749. If you have purchased meat this way before, and would like to do so again, please give us a call to place your order and check availability. We will then send you the “cut sheet” for custom processing of your beef and pork. It can be emailed, snail mailed or faxed back to us and we do require a 25% deposit on your custom order. Our fax number is (540) 868-7691.
Q. Who is the butcher and are they USDA inspected?
A. Our butcher is a family owned local business and USDA inspected facility. They will do the butchering of the meat you buy, after you fill out the “cut sheets,” which we will supply to you. “Cut sheets” explain to the butcher exactly how you want your meat cut. This provides a very custom cut to your specifications. Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns you may have.