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A lean guide to local meat


Meat was on the menu at Solon Beef Days, an annual celebration of beef producers in the Johnson County town. July 16, 2021. — Malcolm MacDougall/Little Village

You don’t have to give up your favorite fleshy entrees in order to eat ethically — but it won’t be as easy as swinging by Walmart for a $6 pound of ground beef, either.

Cutting out the middlemen in the food supply chain takes some legwork on the part of farmers and consumers, but has numerous potential environmental, economic and health benefits. Step one is knowing who and where your local producers are and arranging a meat-cute.

Browse this list of tips, farms and CSAs (short for Community Supported Agriculture, a way of pre-ordering produce directly from producers), and meat shops as a starter pack to a guilt-free meat diet in eastern Iowa.

Tips

Rehberg’s Pork products are on sale every Saturday at the Iowa City Farmers Market. — Zoe Pharo/Little Village

Hit the farmers market or take a drive. Meet your meat farmer where they’re at. Most welcome visitors to the farm, and are happy to explain their practices and prices. Build a relationship with the person who raised your Thanksgiving turkey.

Freeze! Buying in bulk or joining a meat CSA can save you money and shopping trips, but only if you eat what you buy. Label and store your meat properly, and consider investing in a deep freezer.

Ask restaurants where they get their meat, especially those that claim to be farm-to-table. You may feel like a Portlandia hipster, but it can encourage transparency on the part of local businesses and let them know customers care about their suppliers.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. If a seller you trust recommends a cut or product not on your list, consider expanding your palate. Ask questions, search out new recipes and offer feedback. Who knows? Venison, beef tongue or ground ostrich (all lean!) may become your new craving.

Avoid waste. Food waste represents around 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The single best way to reduce your carbon footprint — not to mention save money — is to eat the food you buy. Track your meat intake, save up for a bigger freezer, host an impromptu dinner party, donate food — whatever keeps it out of the landfill.

Farms

These farmers have easy-to-navigate websites for folks new to buying meat direct from the farm. For a much more exhaustive directory of Iowa farms, visit practicalfarmers.org

Crooked Gap Farm (Knoxville)
crookedgapfarm.wordpress.comFarmers: Ethan and Rebecca Book
The meat: Woodlot-pastured pork, grass-fed beef and lamb, rabbit, poultry
Offers a customizable “you choose” meat CSA. Delivers to Knoxville and Des Moines

Heartland Fresh Family Farm (South Donnellson)
heartlandfreshfamilyfarm.com
Farmers: Leslie and Mark Hulsebus
The meat: Pastured beef, free-range poultry
Delivers across Iowa and the Midwest

Humble Hands Harvest (Decorah)
humblehandsharvest.com
Farmers: Hannah Breckbill, Emily Fagan and Emily Spangler
The meat: Pastured pork, grass-fed certified organic lamb
Offers a vegetable CSA with meat add-on Available at the Decorah Farmers Market.

Jóia Food Farm (Charles City)
joiafoodfarm.com
Farmers: Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin
The meat: pastured chicken, organic-raised pork, grass-fed lamb
Offers a meat and eggs CSA, with monthly pick-up at the farm

Midwest Best Beef (Holy Cross)
midwestbestbeef.com
Farmers: David and Annette Hill
The meat: Grass-fed and grain-finished Angus beef, pasture-raised Berkshire pork
Offers a monthly, customizable beef CSA for pick-up in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Available at the Iowa City and Dubuque farmers markets

Over the Moon Farm & Flowers, Coggon
overthemoonfarmandflowers.comFarmers: Shae Pesek and Anna Hankins
The meat: Heritage breed Berkshire pork, Pesek Family Farm Angus beef, pasture-raised chicken and turkeys
Offers a monthly meat CSA (fall is full, but spots are still open for winter, as of Oct. 1). Delivers to Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Marion and Manchester

Rehberg’s Pork (Walker)
rehbergspork.com
Farmers: Donny and Lea Rehberg
The meat: Berkshire pork, raised unconfined and on a vegetarian grain/soybean feed
Available at the Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha farmers markets

Striegel Acres (Oskaloosa)
striegelacres.com
Farmers: Marion and Marj Striegel
The meat: Free-range ostrich (red meat, low-fat)
Available for online order

Jamie Bierman of Twisted Oaks Meats, wearing a shirt that reads “grass fed.” — Zoe Pharo/Little Village

Twisted Oaks Meats (Tipton)
twistedoaksmeats.com
Farmers: The Bierman family
The meat: Grass-fed beef, pastured pork and lamb, free-range chicken and turkey
Available at the Iowa City Farmers Market, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Delivers to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, West Branch, Davenport and Des Moines

Wallace Farms (Keystone)
wallacefarms.com
Farmer: Nick Wallace
The meat: Grass-fed beef
Offers shipping and local pick-up

West Fork Farmstead (West Chester)
westforkfarmstead.com
Farmers: Brian, Nancy and Natasha Wilson
The meat: Grass-fed beef, heritage pork, pastured chicken
Delivers to Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Kalona and Wellman

Stores

John’s Grocery in Iowa City’s Northside Neighborhood. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Anvil Meat Market and Deli
(Closing after Oct. 31)
92 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids anvilmeatmarketanddeli.com

Big Boy Meats
1100 3rd Street SE, Cedar Rapids
bigboymeats.com

John’s Grocery
401 E Market St, Iowa City, johnsgrocery.com

Nelson’s Meat Market
1140 Old Marion Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
nelsonsmeat.com

New Pioneer Food Co-op
22 S Van Buren St, Iowa City
1101 2nd St, Coralville
3338 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
newpi.coop

Don’t see your favorite farm or store? Let LV know!

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 299.


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