Mailbag: An occasional series in which Jenny Burman replies to readers’ farm-to-table queries. Today: Cranberry beans, crowder peas, and grass-fed beef.
Dear Jenny, I am wondering where we can purchase grass-fed beef locally. I have to eat organic, grass fed, antibiotic free and hormone free, as well as gluten free.
You’re best off purchasing from a farmer who’s certified organic. In order to maintain their certification, organic farmers have to keep precise, up-to-date records on what their cattle are fed and where the feed (particularly if they are given grain) comes from. If cattle are not fed grain, that will be part of the record as well. By definition, organically raised cattle will not have been fed hormones or antibiotics.
Many wonderful farmers who follow organic practices but don’t want to deal with the administrative aspects of being certified, or who haven’t yet received certification, may have 100% grass-fed cattle that are hormone/antibiotic-free. But to be sure, look for certification. There are a number of farms in the area that grass feed their cattle until the final three-months or so of the animals’ lives, during which time they are “finished out” on a diet of grains -- sometimes organic, sometimes not, depending on the farm.
Elmwood Stock Farmof Georgetown, KY, is a certified operation that produces grass-fed beef from cows that are never fed grain, according to Ann Stone, who owns the farm with her husband. Elmwood sells beef at the Madeira Farmers Market (Thursdays); for meat CSA* members, there is a weekly delivery to the Hyde Park Farmers Market (Sundays); and their beef, lamb and chicken are available through Ohio Valley Food Connection. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a subscription service in which members receive a weekly (usually) share of produce or meats from a farm or group of farms.
Best of luck!
Cranberry Beans And Crowder Peas
Dear Jenny, I am trying to find cranberry beans and crowder peas. The last time I purchased the cranberry beans was at the farmers market last summer in Hyde Park. The vendor retired and relocated to sunny Florida. It's been about 14 years since I purchased crowder peas. They are both yummy! (I just cook them [cranberry beans] with a seasoning meat like smoked pork or smoked turkey. I add onions while cooking or add onion at serving.)
Thank you for bringing up cranberry beans! Right now is a good time to get them fresh -- the end of summer is a time when many of the vine plants (squashes, cucumbers, and beans, beans and more beans) are going wild, making their last push before fall. I have had reports of cranberry beans being available at the Lunken Airport farmers market. They are also listed on Madeira Farmers Market’s websiteas available right now. And Findlay Marketoffers them as well.
Crowder peas, also known as cowpeas, are fairly unusual this far north. According to Local Harvest (localharvest.org), a food hub for locally grown produce, “Cowpeas originated in the Niger River Basin of West Africa and were then brought to America during colonial times, at which point they became a staple food across the southeastern U.S.” In more recent years, crowders appear to have been crowded out, if you will, by black-eyed peas, a close relative.
While I have not found locally grown crowders, there is an organization -- Slow Food USA -- that has a program called Ark of Taste (slowfoodusa.org/ark-of-taste-in-the-usa) that helps consumers find unusual or “threatened” heirloom varieties.
I have never tried these wonderful sounding peas (not to my knowledge, at least) and am now very curious to do so! Epicurious, an online recipe archive from Bon Apetit, (the now defunct) Gourmet and other Conde Nast publications has a wonderful-sounding “Fresh Cranberry Bean Salad,” and the Food Network, also online, offers an easy “Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli.”
Lunken Farmers Market, Mondays - Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kellogg/Wilmer avenues at Lunken Airport.
Madeira Farmers Market: Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m., Dawson Rd. at Miami Avenue in Madeira.
Dear Readers, please send your questions and comments to @jennyburman on Twitter or email@example.com -- looking forward to hearing from you!