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Bring home the bacon without leaving the house

Valerie Costa, Special Sections Manager
Baby mangalista pigs at Cosmic Roots Ranch in Grass Valley, California, May 7, 2019. Photo courtesy of Visit California
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Two weeks ago, we talked about ways to stay food secure in these odd times by using CSAs or prepaid farm cards to get produce through the end of the year.  But where’s the beef (and pork, and chicken)???  Nevada County has a number of family run ranches that are working harder than ever (and that is saying a lot) to make sure that our community has plenty of meat.  Some of these ranches have been around for generations and originated during the gold rush.  Others were established just a few years ago.  But no matter when they began, these are some hard working folks who love their animals and treat them humanely and honestly.  So if you are a carnivore, before you get a package or chicken or steak from a chain grocery store, consider instead ordering directly from one of our local ranches.  In many cases, they will even deliver right to your door!  Here are just a few of the options available.

Owner Ellen Cole pets her mangalista pigs at Cosmic Roots Ranch in Grass Valley, California, May 7, 2019. Photo courtesy of Visit California
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The motto of Cosmic Roots Ranch is “The most loved meat you’ll ever eat,” and there is definitely truth in that advertising. Offerings include Mangalitsa pork, pheasant, and eggs, and in addition to their daily farm stand, owner Ellen Olsen offers free delivery with no minimum.  Popular for its succulent, fat-marbled meat, the Mangalitsa is called the “Kobe Beef of Pork.” The flavor of the meat is how pork should taste. The Seattle Times claims Mangalitsa to be “The next big thing for American food lovers,” and we have one of the premiere breeders of them right here in Grass Valley!  The animals are raised with love, talked to, and the pigs get as many pets as they can stand.  They are provided healthy non GMO food, and get all of the garden scraps.  Not wanting to waste any part of the animal, they even make soap and candles from essential oils mixed with the fat that is returned after the harvest.  You can order a pound of bacon and get local delivery throughout Nevada County, including Truckee.  If you have never had pheasant, it has a light and mild flavor, but is a darker meat than chicken; it is similar to eating turkey dark meat.  Cosmic Roots owner Ellen Olson says that business is booming right now and that people are appreciating now more than ever the fact that we have healthy, local food available.  “Thank you to the people of Nevada County for all of the support.  It’s been amazing how many new people I have met over the past couple of weeks.  It’s great how many people want good local food,” Ellen said.  “Everyone has been very nice and so grateful that we are open.  I’ve never been thanked so much for being a farmer in my entire life.”

Cosmic Roots Ranch is located at 16284 Indian Springs Ranch Rd. in Grass Valley and is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.  All proper physical distancing and food safety protocols are observed.  For more information, call (530) 913-5401 or visit their website at cosmicrootsranch.com.

The Zeitlers of Family Friendly Farms. Photo courtesy of Family Friendly Farms
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Family Friendly Farms has been serving Nevada County and beyond for the past decade. The family works hard to sustainably raise grass fed beef and lamb, pasture raised pork, and free range chicken that is all non-GMO, corn free and soy free, with no hormones, no antibiotics, and no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  They also age all of the meats to increase the tenderness and flavor. In addition, their smoked pork products, such as bacon and ham, are all nitrate-free.  Because of COVID-19, the family packs and delivers all products with full masks and gloves to make sure that everything is safe and protected.  There is minimal handling, everything goes straight from the farm to the butcher to the freezer. Right now, Family Friendly Farms is offering free home deliveries for any orders over $100 for local residents in the Greater Grass Valley area.  “We have tripled our harvest schedule so that we have plenty of meat for everyone in this time of need,” owner Phil Zeiter said. “We deliver our products everywhere, but our heart is here in the county.  We have some close and wonderful relationships with our local customers.” 

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To learn more, or to order, visit familyfriendlyfarms.com or call (530) 268-8000.

Jim Gates on the ranch at Nevada County Free Range Beef. Photo courtesy of NCFRB.
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If you have the freezer space and want to go big, Nevada County Free Range Beef is an excellent choice.  The cattle are grass fed and grass finished. They range freely over hundreds of acres of lush green pasture, enjoying fresh air, warm sunshine, and clear water. The cattle are never given hormones or antibiotics, and their pasture grass is pesticide free. And of course, the cows are never, ever confined to a feedlot.  The result is animals that live happy lives, and beef with extraordinary texture and taste. In fact, the beef from their cattle is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acids, anti-oxidants, and vitamins.  They sell their beef by the quarter, half, or whole animal. A quarter is approximately 70 to 90 pounds, which fills roughly seven cubic feet of freezer space. Cost is calculated on a per-pound basis across all types of cuts. Cost per pound is $9.00 per pound for quarter, half, and whole animal orders. Quarter and half orders include selected cuts from front and hind sections. Cuts vary in weight from approximately one-pound portions for hamburger, to roasts ranging from two to three and 3/4 pounds. Cuts are wrapped and labeled in convenient sizes, then vacuum packed and flash frozen. You can order or ask a question about orders anytime, online, by filling out an order form at nevadacountyfreerangebeef.com or call them at 530-273-1025.

Valerie Costa is the Special Sections Manager of The Union. She can be reached at vcosta@theunion.com


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