I have spent decades supporting Farm Aid. I shop farmers’ markets in the summers and, for the most part, keep little processed food in the freezers. However, even with feeding three hungry boys, I had yet to purchase a bulk meat order from a family farm. Over the course of this pandemic of worrying about food shortages and seeing empty shelves at Costco, the time felt right to make the commitment.
Following Farm Aid in 2015 in Chicago, I had bookmarked a handful of smaller, family farms in the Illinois and Wisconsin area. I was determined to start shopping locally and farm fresh. While I made some changes to my purchasing habits (organic meats, no processed foods, farmers markets) I still hadn’t make the leap to larger orders.
Then 2020 happened.
Unless you’re living under a rock, covered in dirt without wifi, the start of this year was madness and has continued with one twist and turn after another. Once the Covid-19 virus hit, and the toilet paper and paper towels ran out, the next thing missing at Costco was meat. It was gone. All of it. Three rows of coolers empty.
Thankfully, I generally keep my freezer stocked with ground beef, chicken, and occasionally pork from Costco. The first empty shelves of meat didn’t rattle me too much, but then over the next month, we really didn’t have the options we were used to. Time to make some changes in how I shopped.
I turned to my bookmarks from the family farms and started researching all of them again. I kept going back to the location, family farm history, and what they had to offer. With the encouragement of my husband to order what looked good, I took the leap and placed an order for a 1/4 of beef.
I selected a family farm in Brodhead, Wisconsin called Riemer Family Farm. They have been around since 1927 and offer 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, and pastured pork, chicken, and turkey. While their online ordering is super simple – I did reach out directly to order my 1/4 beef as a special order. They were amazing and answered all my questions. Once my order was ready, I had the breakdown of what I was going to stock my freezer with:
- Ground Beef (40 1lb packages!)
- Ground Round (5 1lb packages!)
- Soup Bone (4 packages)
- NY Strip Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
- Rib Eye Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
- Sirloin Tip Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
- Tenderloin (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
- Rump Roast (2 packages)
- Chuck Roast (2 packages)
- Cube Steak (2 packages)
- 1/3 lb Ground Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each)
- 1/4 lb Ground Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each)
- Ground Speciality Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each)
- Sirloin Steak (2 packages)
- Ribs (4 packages)
I had no idea what this would look like in person, but I knew that once it was all unpacked, I would receive about 90+ lbs of beef for under $800.
Pick Up or Delivery
One of the main reasons I wanted to support a local farm was to know where my food was coming from. Best way to do that was to pick it up!
Currently, their pick up day is Thursday afternoons from 4-6pm. This made it even better as I was able to drive up there with my youngest after work. We made the evening out of it, listening to music, chatting and grabbing dinner on the road.
I didn’t know what to expect on the size of my order, but pleasantly surprised that they easily fit into three coolers I had brought (I even had a few more tucked in the front of the van just in case). Most items were wrapped in paper and still packed nicely together.
Round trip it took us just over three hours, and after being stuck in the house for months, it was a great to just drive!
The other option is having the order home-delivered. Their service area for delivery is throughout the Upper Midwest including Minneapolis, Madison, the Upper Peninsula, Des Moines, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, and more. Hopefully, you are in their delivery area as well!
This week, we have a 20 lb order of pork being delivered by overnight FedEx. All orders over $165 include delivery. I expect it to be in a smaller cube-sized box and will have ample room in our freezer for it! I’m already planning a breakfast of bacon and eggs this weekend!
Shortly after our purchase, I decided to have our first meal to be steaks. I took out the one package of tenderloins and two packages of sirloin steak (I thought they looked small….they weren’t).
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Dinner was perfect. It truly tasted like my childhood memories of steaks grilled by my dad. Since we had leftovers (the sirloin steaks were bigger than I expected and no one left the table hungry), we had steak fajita bowls the next night.
Should you order?
You should do this if you have the means, the freezer storage, and would love to know where the food on the table actually comes from.
We are hoping that the bulk of our freezer will last us well to the end of the year. Between occasional dinners out, our meatless favorite dishes, plus added purchases of pork and chicken, we feel our dinner menus will be easy to write each week!
Let me know if you try Riemer’s Farm or another local family farm (for all those outside of the Midwest!
Support family farms! Happy cooking & grilling!