A while ago I wrote about Aaron Miller (above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman) and his grassfed beef, which I’ve found to be astonishingly succulent for 100% grassfed (it’s all in how you treat the grass, he says; you are what you eat, even if you’re a cow). We cooked his turkey at Thanksgiving.  He also raises excellent pigs. And now he’s started a lamb program,  available by order from their site.  I cooked some for Jonathon Sawyer, chef at The Greenhouse Tavern, and he took one smell and said, “You can smell it’s grass-fed!”

Aaron and his wife Melissa are part of growing number of small farmers raising animals on grass. I’d love for more bloggers to post links to livestock farmers in their area raising animals for food, sustainably and well. If you do, send me a link to your post and I’ll put it up. We’re moving into prime growing season. On Sunday, The New York Times asked readers to defend the ethics of eating meat, a contest. I believe it’s ethical and good, provided the animals are treated humanely. We make it available by buying from such farmers. This kind of meat will be more expensive, and it should be. Pay the same, but eat less. And if you blog about food, post about them and send me a link or leave a link in comments.

The Millers take orders for lamb on their site, Miller Grassfed (there’s a great video of their farm on their home page) and they have drop-offs on east and west sides. You can also order their lamb through Foster’s Meats at The West Side Market.  They are also at the Howland Farmer’s Market in Warren, Ohio, on April 21 and you can, of course, come out to the farm–by appointment. I’ve been there, it’s lovely.

Other great farms I’ve bought from at my grower’s market, North Union Farmers Markets are these:
New Creation Farm (great pork, also do beef by special order).
Tea Hills Farms, excellent poultry
Millgate Farm for 100% grassed beef
I havent bought from them but The Great American Lamb Company sells lamb there.

This is not a complete list of the many livestock farms that sell at the North Union Farmers Markets, so check them all out yourself!

And bloggers, if you post on farmers in your area, let me know and I’ll link here.

Spring Lake Farm from Meredith, NY
Yonder Way Farm from Brenham, TX
Larga Vista Farm from Boone, CO
Saugatuck Craft Butchers located in Westport, CT
Cutter Ranch, Clinton, BC, Canada
Josef Meiller’s Farm, Pine Plains, NY

If you liked this post on local lamb, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved




72 Wonderful responses to “Buying Local Lamb”

  • Koritt

    I agree that eating meat is good as long as you are supporting humane and sound farming practices. It’s healthier, too. We have a lot of great farmers here in Western New York to buy from at the farmers markets. Beef and pork are in abundance and there is also goat, lamb, turkey, and chicken. There is even a farm that has rabbit! In addition to supporting sound and humane farm practices, farmers markets are a great way to support local business and reduce one’s environmental impact. I’m a big fan.

  • former butcher

    About a year ago I read the book “Steak” by Mark Schatzker; and I can certainly recommend it. It inspired me to search out “local” grass fed beef that I could buy regularly. A year later, and I’m still looking.
    I’m sure the issue is “The Grass”, since, as Michael outlined in his original post about the Miller farm, Mr. Miller carefully selects and rations what grasses his cattle eat. Shatzker makes the same observation about the quality and variety of grasses that make for good meat.
    And while I find farmers’ markets a great place to buy fruits and vegetables; meat, not so much. I don’t want to be critical of these honest and hard working people, but they need to learn a few things about marketing. Maybe things are better in other parts of the country in relation to farmers’ markets and meat vendors.
    Lamb is less of an issue than beef, but even sheep need to be “finished” with some measure of grain.
    In either case it’s the search for the “happy medium” between factory farming and the small, local farm. The pattern I’ve noticed over the years is that when growers reach a certain level of effeciency and profitability, they ship their animals to larger livestock markets. They simply cannot follow their product “farm to table” and stay profitable.

  • E. Nassar

    Buying form a local farmer who really takes care of his animals really makes a huge difference. I have never had better pork than the one I pick up from Yonder Way Farm in Brenham, TX (he delivers actually so I don’t have to make the drive). His chicken and grass fed beef are great as well, but his pork from fat free ranging pigs is by far the best. Last night I just started the 7-day cure of one of his pork bellies for bacon. It’s a beautiful deep red thick piece of about 12 lbs! I mention Yonder Way several times on my blog, but the link below is a bit more specific:

  • Kirsten@ My Kitchen in the Rockies

    Michael, what a wonderful post. We only eat meat from local farmers that sell grass feed beef. I bought half a side of beef last fall and we still have plenty. I am able to buy lamb from a local seller at our market, but he is not always around. I have a page on my blog called “Shop locally” that has a few farms I shop at listed in the Denver, CO area. You are very welcome to add them to your list. The Larga Vista Ranch listed is one of my favorite. Check out their web page, they are also a really nice family.
    Alex Seidel’s Farm (owner of Fruition here in Denver) is right across the interstate from me. His farmer sells at our local market. I hope that in the future they will also have some Colorado lamb for sale to the public.
    What I hope for the most is that people will understands how terribly mass meat production is and get back to supporting their local farmers. Nobody needs to eat meat everyday and that good meat has its price.

  • Brenda

    In the past few years I’ve been purchasing most of my meat directly from a farm that raises lamb, pig and beef. It’s a small family run farm that believes in raising animals the way it used to be done: outdoors, on grass, and sustainably. Last year my husband and I bought a whole lamb and butchered it ourselves. With a few good tools and the help of the Internet, it was surprisingly easy! Yes this meat costs more but I’d rather get less of something better, and it’s great to support a local farmer that put so much hard work and pride into raising the animals.

    I was introduced to this farm through Foodists, a collective of very passionate food enthusiasts. A number of us live in Vancouver, BC and several of us had the opportunity to visit the farm two years ago:

  • Tim Boyer

    Hmmm. 14 miles away from me, and I’ve never heard of them. Looks like I go to Howland this weekend…

  • steve

    I’m very happy to say that we are friends with Aaron and Melissa Miller, great people. Aaron has been raising animals for a long time so he knows how to do it right and you will not find many farmers that do it as ethically as he does.

  • Marcus Bowe

    I’m of the opinion that lamb meat tastes far better on grass than beef. Where I live, in Eastern Washington, most of the slaughtering happens in the fall when there hasn’t been a whole lot of fresh new grass for 3 months or so. The grass fed beef from our area sucks. The lamb on the other hand is amazing and we get at least one every year. They’re always very rich and fat!

  • jeff

    i believe that this type of food is actually properly priced, and only more expensive because the “commodity” meat industry benefits so much from corn subsidies and other tax benefits, and is therefore artificially low…

  • Scott Lilley

    I’m also happy to give a nod to a new (but old-school) butcher shop here in CT, one that works to support small local farms and pasture-raised meat. I picked up some lamb belly last week from Saugatuck Craft Butchers in Westport. Terrific place. They source their lamb from Josef Meiller’s farm in Pine Plains, NY (which is nearby for us, in the Hudson Valley). I wrote about the butcher and the belly this week: http://smokecurepicklebrew.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/lamb-bellies-and-saugatuck-craft-butchery/

  • rockandroller

    Fantastic post, something we have been hotly discussing in my family. I understand Miller’s beef is available in limited quantity at the Flying Fig’s market too, though the last time I stopped by they didn’t have any. Did not know you could order from their site, thank you!

  • Marilyn Noble

    Thanks, Michael, for supporting your local grassfed farmers. The American Grassfed Association (www.americangrassfed.org) has a listing of producers from around the country, many of whom are certified for their production methods. You can read the standards on the website and learn more about what grassfed really means.

    I recently did a guest post for Maria Rodale’s blog that explains the terminology you might run across at farmers markets and other places where meat is sold. Understanding the labels allows you to ask good questions when you talk to your local farmer and/or butcher. You can find it here. http://www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com/how-to-buy-grass-fed-meats/

    Thanks again for spreading the word about grassfed.

  • former butcher

    I have some issues with people who grade their meat on an ethical scale rather than an edible scale; so I want to set that argument aside. Assuming we have humane methods of handling and feeding livestock, I wish more attention was given to producing meat that can compete with mass produced meat in flavor and tenderness.
    “Slow Food”, braising and stewing are all fine, but unless you can grill the thing over an open flame, it doesn’t quite meet the standard of what I expect from meat. I believe, based on some measure of experience, that cattle or sheep raised without some grain in their diet fail that basic test.
    I believe LESS grain given to livestock would produce a much better product, rather than the insane abandon with which grain is paractically forced on cattle in feedlots. They seem to be able to do this in other parts of the world, South America comes to mind.
    Sorry if I interrupted the flow of Hossanas on grass fed beef and lamb. I guess if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

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  • Neil

    I have to agree with one of the earlier posters, by parents in Wales (UK) have a number of acres of what is called organic land where sheep are pretty much only grass feed. Is it the food they eat or the happy life they have, I’ve no idea, but the taste is remarkable. If you can afford to buy well feed / grass feed lamb, even just once, you won’t regret it. It makes you question if you really know what lamb should taste like.

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