Meat Club FAQs

FAQs for Prospective Members

Is the Clark Summit Meat Club a CSA? What is a “CSA,” anyway?
Yes. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a way for the food-buying public to enter into a relationship with a farm and to receive a share of the harvest. By making a financial commitment to a farm (usually the whole season, but in this case on a monthly basis), people become “members” (or “shareholders,” or “subscribers”) of the CSA.

So how is this different from my veggie box CSA?
That’s a GREAT question. We are glad you asked. :-) It is quite different. Dealing with meat is much more challenging. There are only a handful of meat CSAs in the whole country.

Clark Summit Farm

The reason it is difficult is because we are breaking down whole animals. Your vegetable farmer can give everyone five zucchini; we cannot give everyone two pork chops — there aren’t enough to go around. So, we let our members choose, on a first-come, first-served basis using a Web-based ordering system. We also can’t just leave the boxes on someone’s porch; the meat has to be frozen, for food-safety reasons, and someone needs to be home to make sure the right bag goes to the right person (hey, it happens 90% of the time). This also means if you forget to pick up your bag, it is a hassle for the host: she/he has to find freezer space.

When are pickups?
Usually the third Thursday of the month, 5-7 pm. We give you at least two weeks’ notice or more on the dates. Right now Liz & Dan are delivering to a couple of central locations: Emeryville at Meat Club wrangler Bonnie’s house on San Pablo Ave. San Francisco residents can pick up from a house in Potrero Hill, and Marin County residents can pick up in Mill Valley or the farm. More info on pickup locations and details gets sent out in advance of the delivery.

Can I order specific cuts I get?
Yes, but the more flexible you are, the happier you’ll be. We operate on a first-ordered, first served basis, in which the order form is opened at a certain time. Stuff disappears quick. There are usually just four Boston butt roasts every month for the whole CSA, for example, but there are also four “picnic” shoulder roasts that don’t go as fast. One tenderloin, one flank steak, etc. We only slaughter a couple of animals a month for the CSA. If you are really attached to only getting certain cuts, then farmers markets and butcher shops are probably a better option for you.

Can I skip the pork/chicken/eggs and get only beef?
Whatever floats your meaty boat.

Can I get beef tongue? liver? Oxtail?
Often, if you want it, yes. Sometimes you need to tell us in advance, like for suet, as these are not items the butcher is used to saving.

What happens if you pack the wrong thing in my bag, or make other mistakes?
As we mentioned before, this is a challenging venture — otherwise there would be more meat CSAs around the country. We are constantly trying to improve the system, but really we can only offer only this guarantee: Mistakes will happen! If they are big ones, we will try our best to rectify them. If they are small, we ask that you bear with us. Hopefully, we will get things right for you at least two out of your three months. If you are a person who likes to know exactly what you are getting, and who gets irritated by mild chaos and disorder…then you are welcome to come out to the farm and help pack the orders once a month. :-) Or maybe this is not the right meat CSA for you.

Why is So-and-So’s meat and eggs cheaper than Clark Summit’s?
We base our prices on our costs, not on what other farms are doing. Many other farms have decided not to use organic feed like we do because it is prohibitively expensive. We are also a very small operation, with fewer than 100 cattle and 100 pigs, and thus do not have economies of scale when it comes to slaughtering, bulk feed ordering, etc. We would like to be able to lower our prices but the truth is we will likely have to keep raising them, as we do not intend to lower our standards.

OK, you haven’t succeeded in scaring me off. How can I sign up?
Email meatclub@clarksummitfarm.com and we’ll send you more info on pricing, joining our Google Group, etc.

FAQs for Current Members

How long do your eggs last?
These eggs are very fresh, laid within a few days of delivery, especially compared to what you get in the grocery store. They should easily last three weeks or even a month! Bonnie for example does not refrigerate hers but leaves the carton on the counter (like the Europeans do, the better for cooking). Extra cartons she keeps in the fridge then takes out; she has found them good up to a month.

I got a bad egg. What should I do?
You should throw it away. We’re sorry. One of the perils of free-range chickens is that sometimes they lay eggs outside their boxes, and we collect these eggs thinking they are fresh when they are … not. This VERY rarely happens, by the way, but rarely is not “never.” You will know as soon as you crack it that it is bad. Believe me.

Can I visit the farm?
Yes, but please don’t just stop by. Liz & Dan are on the go from dawn til well after dusk and cannot accommodate drop-ins. They do offer a public farm tour one Saturday a month; email them to find out when the next one is. We also occasionally have a Clark Summit Meat Club open house/workday.

What about….?

If your question is not answered here, email Meat Club manager Bonnie Powell at meatclub@clarksummitfarm.com

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