Operation Beef — well done!

Today I took delivery of a quarter-ton of meat: 660 pounds of beef and lamb, to be exact. It was quite a morning, and an excellent way to celebrate one’s birth, I think — Happy Beefday to me!

While I am a born-again carnivore, the Potato Non Grata and I are not planning to eat all that meat ourselves. Oh nooooo. I was doing this as a bulk order for the Bay Area Meat CSA, the meat-subscription service I am still struggling to get off the grass after stupidly mentioning the idea in October to the SF Chronicle. BAM CSA (pronounced bamska) has almost 60 members, and over half of them (plus friends) were ordering fresh, not frozen, meat through me as one discounted bulk order. Totals ranged from $20 to a staggering $875, cuts from tri-tip to kidney, and I had to write a check for $4,600. High steaks, indeed.

I’m not going to say where we got it from, because I don’t want the farmer to be overrun. Rest assured that these were 100% pastured, grass-fed cows; in fact, after our delivery, the driver was headed to Chez Panisse.

bamsca_tongue.jpgConsidering the logistics that went into Operation Beef, the delivery went pretty smoothly. Five very nice beef elves showed up at 8 a.m. to label (and in some cases, weigh) individual cuts, then distribute them into the bags and boxes to which I had attached our homemade order forms. We weren’t missing a single thing, and in fact we had an extra tongue. This was because the tongues came two to a vacuum-sealed package, which was kind of a bummer as we had five orders for one tongue each.

I have never seen a cow’s tongue before, or at least one that was not still inside the animal’s mouth. It was disturbingly large, with the thick throat muscle still attached. A very heroic helper volunteered to divide the packages. Like me, she is an ex-vegetarian — there seem to be a lot of us in BAMCSA, I guess because we’re smart enough to recognize that eating meat ethically is an OK choice too.

There are certainly some things I will do differently for our next order. But as with everything in my 35 years…live and loin.

And now, I must stop punning and change my coppery-scented clothing for dinner out. Tonight, I just might order vegetarian.

6 Responsesto “Operation Beef — well done!”

  1. cookiecrumb says:

    Truly amazing. Congratulations; you have a new tiara to wear: The Crown Rib Roast.

  2. Jan says:

    Hi! I saw your article on-line, then looked up your website, and you had already started a CSA!-Great. I wanted you to know that some of us farmers have started meat CSA’s. I deliver half and full shares (10 and 20 lbs) to members once a month. The shares are diversified to reflect the nature of CSA’s -supporting the variety that is grown on the farm- and to support the diversity of species that I care for on my farm. The boxes contain beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and lamb- in that order of quantity. The boxes also have extra’s that go with meat – like garlic & onions or blue & red potatoes.

    I am Organic (yes I follow all the rules, and then some), Biodynamic, and 100% grassfed on pasture, not feedlot. I am in the Midwest (WI), so I am not making a pitch to you, only to let you and your readers know that this is a concept that is starting to take hold.

    I needed a way to sell more than just beef, because it is the diversity of animals that creates an eco-farm system that mimics nature. I deliver the meat to the twin cities, MN (the closest urban area) which is over 3 hours away – no one would drive this far in this neck of the woods, and besides I guess I am being more environmentally conscious that way-only one car trip instead of several members driving. I also offer several options because everyone is so picky about meat (can you imagine someone saying, “please don’t include the cucumbers in my box, and oh, could you just make it all spinach” in a vegetable CSA? But with meat we hold on to favorites and taboos, so I learned to just be flexable and hope it all evens out in the long run.

    I offer basic boxes – least cost using mostly ground- and Traditional Slow boxes – using mostly roasts, and soup fix’ns. It seemed best to just keep the cost down and buy a steak or two separate. I also have a mixed box of one type-like a mini side of beef, lamb, pork, etc. This could be ordered every month too.

    If you would like to see an example of this type of CSA, and the many options I offer, here’s a link to my CSA page:(I tried to hyperlink, but it didn’t go through)(http://www.blackberryridgellc.com/index_files/Page614.htm)

    If you or anyone else are willing to give me some feed-back on what you see or think, that would be great! This is pretty new, so I’m still working on it. You can check out the rest of the farm, practices, pictures (be patient, there’s a lot!), animal care, etc. at

    Best Wishes!

  3. DairyQueen says:

    Hi Jan — wow, that is great! Thanks so much for sharing what you’re doing. I will read through the website and probably be in touch if you don’t mind. There are so many logistics that have to be worked out and if you’ve already done so, then all the better for us.

  4. Nice work.
    I have been considering getting something like this together where I live, but haven’t gotten off my butt and actually done it yet.
    If you’re willing to share tips on how you did it, maybe it’ll get me going. . .

    also, there’s a typo in your post:
    “Five very nice beef elves showed up at 8 a.m. to label (and in come cases, weigh) individual cuts,”



  5. Niki says:

    I live in the East Bay and would love to join your meat CSA! How can I get more information on this? Do you have room for another household?

  6. DairyQueen says:

    HI Niki: I am getting ready to close the membership for the CSA because it is getting too big and unwieldy. But if you e-mail me (my nickname AT ethicurean DOT com), I will squeak you in!

    Everyone else who finds this post/comment later, I will also be starting a waiting list in case not enough of the members follow through when it comes to actually coughing up the dough for a subscription.