Long Beach Farms was started as a vehicle to bring the freshest, highest quality food to our community. To achieve that, we grow as much food as we can on our small plots in Long Beach, and are part of a small, family farm collective that grows the rest of what we bring through our farm box and delivery services. In this spirit, we are partnering with our friends Vicente and Irma Suarez to raise local, humanely and sustainably raised beef! We are VERY excited to bring delicious, clean meat to our community!
Your participation in our beef program helps to strengthen our local food economy; gives you a more direct connection with your food; and eliminates much of the waste, inefficiency, and cruelty built into the current big-agricultural systems. It helps us to create a more transparent food system - one that works for everyone and is made of many small, diversified producers. The following FAQ should answer most general questions you may have; please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions!
Q: What are you offering with your beef program?
A: We are offering the opportunity to purchase a quarter or side of local, Angus beef from Long Beach Farms, in cooperation with our friends at Azteca Farm, a small family farm located in Piru, Ventura County, CA.
Q: How are the calves being raised?
A: The cows are being raised in their own comfortable area near the farm in Piru, which sits in an open valley adjoining the Santa Clarita river, with rolling hills in all directions. The cows are treated respectfully and humanely, fed daily and allowed to forage at the edge of their area. We will not administer any growth hormones or other medicines to the animals. No scheduled shots, no weird vitamins - nothing. If an animal does happen to fall sick beyond our ability to treat it homeopathically, we will consult a licensed veterinarian or physician and allow them to decide a course of treatment that is in the best interest of the animal's welfare.
Q: Can I visit the cows?
A: We will maintain an online portal where we will keep participants in the loop as we progress throughout the coming seasons, and will schedule several opportunities to visit Azteca Farm and the cattle.
Q: What are the cows being fed?
A: Typically, the diet of most cattle in the US is usually composed of some form of forage (grass, legumes, or fermented agricultural waste). Cattle fattened in feedlots are fed small amounts of hay supplemented with grain, soy and other ingredients in order to increase the energy density of their diet. “Pasture-fed” animals forage on grass for the great majority of their diet. There is considerable debate as to whether cattle should be raised on diets primarily composed of pasture (grass), or a concentrated diet of grain, soy, corn and other supplements. And the issue is often complicated by the political interests and confusion between labels such as "free range", "organic,” or "natural.”
So we’re skipping the debate and trying to avoid the ambiguity with our approach. Admittedly, our program may seem a bit excessive, luxurious even, but we’ve done it before to great results. Here goes: our cows eat the same food we do. The exact, same, high-quality, organically grown vegetables, legumes and grains that Vicente and Irma feed to their family and take to the farmers’ market -- we feed to the cows!
That’s why we’re calling our strategy to fatten the cows a “Zero Waste Feed Program.” After the daily harvest, whichever vegetables are not composted back into the soil to improve tilth or sold at market, are hand-fed to the cows. Which is great for the cows, because the nutritional values of a variety of greens are unmatched by a single grass or grain food source. This Zero Waste approach seems like a no-brainer, but it is altogether uncommon for the cows to be spoiled to this degree. This “innovative” feeding program helps us conserve the nutrition that the land provides, and the cows seem to be fat and a happy as a result, yielding beef that is healthy and nutritious, with flavor that can't be beat!
Q How long will it take?
A: We at Long Beach Farms support the "slow food" movement, and this is slow food at its finest! Your participation will last across the coming seasons, and will culminate in a HUGE party at the farm when the meat is ready next Fall. More on that later. As the calves grow, we will provide regular updates on the health and status of the animals. We will also schedule a few farm visits for those interested.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Because of the direct connection with the farmer, buying a quarter of side of beef through a small farm program like ours is an economical way to participate in raising high-quality, sustainably grown food. With your participation, you are making a direct action that enables us to provide our community with a food system that is good, clean and fair for all.
Our price is $6.50 / pound, based on hanging weight. This price includes all processing, USDA inspection, and butcher fees. We found an excellent description of the difference between hanging weight, live weight, and the weight of the retail cuts of meat after processing HERE. And here is one person’s description of navigating their first beef-buying experience, HERE. If you're on the fence, consult with friends and loved ones to join you in participating!
Q: How is the beef processed?
A: When the cattle have reached their size, they are transported from the farm in Piru, CA and transported the same day less than 60 miles to a USDA-approved slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse inspects the meat for anything out of the ordinary, then approves and performs the slaughter. We hang the beef to dry-age for 7-10 days, which improves flavor and allows natural enzymes to make the meat more tender. After dry-aging, the beef is ready for butcher and it's cut into all of the ribeyes, filets, tenderloins, ground beef, etc. As soon as it's been cut, it’s vacuum sealed, and flash-frozen, then it's ready for delivery.
Q: Exactly what am I getting with my beef purchase?
A: Please see a detailed description of what to expect with purchase of our quarter, side or whole beef HERE.
Q: How does it work?
A: When you’re ready to order, visit our website and pay the deposit. Your deposit reserves your beef and you simply wait for the calf to reach optimal size in late summer or fall. When the calf is ready, we’ll take it to the butcher and contact you with the hanging weight of the calf, which determines the final cost of your quarter, half or whole beef purchase. Based on the hanging weight, we’ll request payment for the balance owed and contact the butcher to let them know how you want the calf prepared (or we can tell the butcher for you). The beef is ready for you to pick up about two-three weeks after it’s delivered to the butcher. Then we’ll pack it up and bring it down to Long Beach.
Q: Where should I store my beef after purchase?
A: You should plan to store your beef in the freezer. Many have found success with a separate deep freezer, which seem to be readily available on places like Craigslist and Amazon. One cubic foot of freezer space should accommodate around 35 pounds of meat. Keep your freezer at zero degrees (0°) or below to maintain the quality of frozen foods. Most foods will maintain good quality longer if the freezer temperature is -10 to -20°F. At temperatures between 0 and 32°F, food deteriorates more rapidly.
Q: Yeah yeah yeah -- so where can I order?
A: Go for it! HERE
Q: I’m interested in sharing a quarter with some friends and family. Which cuts can I expect?
A: Your purchase of a quarter will be for a "mixed-quarter.” By ordering a mixed-quarter, you'll receive choice, premium cuts from the fore and hind quarters in the same proportion as a half beef. If you order a quarter of beef, you will essentially be receiving 1/8 of the forequarter and an 1/8 of the hindquarter. Here are some examples of what you might expect in a quarter beef order.
5 packages of rouladen/carne asada
49 packages/pounds of ground beef
2 packages of soup bones
3 top sirloin steaks (2 steaks in each package)
2 packages of short ribs
1 sirloin top roast
2 packages of T-bone steaks (2 steaks in each package)
3 pot roasts
1 rib roast
1 rump roast
1 package of tenderloins
1 package of flank steaks
20 30 lbs ground beef
2-3 chuck roasts
1 rib roast
4 packages/pounds stew meat
2 packs short ribs
2 london broil
3 bottom round roast
1-2 eye round roast
2 rump roast
4 packs/pounds chip steaks
6 sirloin steaks
2 porterhouse steaks
6 T-bone steaks
40-50 lbs ground beef
3-4 packages rib steaks (2 per pkg)
3-4 pkg. T-bone steaks (2 per pkg.)
4-5 chuck roasts (each about 4 lbs)
1-2 arm roasts (each about 4 lbs)
4-5 packages sirloin Steaks (2 per pkg)
1-2 cross rib roasts (4 lbs each)
4-6 packages top round steaks (2 per pkg)
1-2 rump roasts (4 lbs each)
3-4 packages/pounds stew meat
It all depends on the cuts you choose, and how large / heavy the calf is at processing time. Please let us know if you have any questions!