Where’s the Beef?

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A Guide to Finding Central Florida’s Best Local Meats

Edgar Massoni (above) is an accidental food activist. Starting as a hobby, a family business with his dad and cousin, Massoni opened Orlando Meats in 2013 to fill a void in the specialty meats niche demanded by Orlando’s growing South American population.

“We started getting asked a lot for grass-fed beef,” he says, and not knowing a lot about it, he started doing his research on how meat is produced on industrial farms.

A few months later, Massoni bought his first grass-fed cow and hasn’t looked back. Today, Orlando Meats exclusively sells local grass-fed beef and pasture-raised meats, including poultry, pork and rabbit.

“Feed-lot beef feeds a lot of people, but the cows are raised on a grain diet, which wreaks havoc with their system and makes them sick and in need of antibiotics,” says Massoni. “The goal is to get them as fat as possible as fast as possible.”

Grass-fed cows, on the other hand, are raised in an open pasture where they are free to graze on grass, clover and rye. This method eliminates the need for antibiotics, and also results in slightly more nutritious meat.  “The flavor profile is different, too,” says Massoni. “The beef has a much more natural, beefy flavor because of the variety of grass the cows eat.”

Much of his job is educating consumers on the value of local and responsibly raised meat. “People look at the price, which is triple what they’re used to paying, and they freak out,” Massoni says. “I have to explain the difference between conventional and grass-fed beef—people inherently know the difference between a Toyota and Lexus, and the same goes for our food,” he continues. “I’m willing to pay a premium for the best quality.”

But being willing to pay a premium for quality meat and knowing where to find it are two separate things.  Massoni has seen the market grow in the past five years but it’s still difficult to find local meat, especially if you’re only looking in your local grocery store.

From farmers’ markets to farm stores, there is a surprising number of outlets to procure local, responsibly raised meat. Here’s a guide to get you started:

RETAIL

Orlando Meats
A diverse selection of beef, pork, lamb, goat and poultry can be found at Orlando Meats, which will move from its location on Goldenrod to a more central location in the Mills 50 District. 3900 South Goldenrod Road, #136, Orlando; (Coming Summer 2016) 728 Virginia Drive, Orlando;  (407)598-0700; orlandomeats.com

Local Roots
Located inside East End Market, Local Roots supplies a small selection of naturally raised, local meat and farm-fresh eggs in addition to locally grown produce, raw honey and Florida craft beer. 3201 Corrine Drive, Orlando; localrootsdistribution.com

Swine & Sons
A dine-in, quick-serve-to-go eatery, Swine & Sons has a butcher’s case filled with house-cured meats, including ham, sausage, bacon and charcuterie stemming from Palmetto Creek, Morris Family Farm and Florida Fresh Meats. 595 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; (407) 636-7601; swineandsons.com

The Farmacy
This downtown Winter Garden farm store, housed inside a remodeled portion of Winter Garden Feed & Seed, is open Wednesday through Saturday and offers a selection of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and heritage pork. Owners will also arrange the purchase of half and whole cows raised in DeLand.  18 E. Joiner St., Winter Garden; (321) 226-8323; facebook.com/thefarmacy

Habibi’s International Market & Butcher Shop
Dubbed as an old-fashioned butcher’s shop, this downtown Sanford store features grass-fed halal and non-halal meats including beef, chicken, lamb, pork and sausages of all varieties. 112 W. 2nd St., Sanford; (407) 942-3226; habibisinternation.wix.com/habibismarket

Wild Hare Kitchen & Garden Emporium
Sourcing mainly from Ocoee, Geneva and Ocala, Wild Hare offers local lamb, rabbit, chicken, pork, beef and bone broths. An avid believer in connecting consumers with farmers, owner Cheryl Bryant recently unveiled a Farm Supper Series, which invites guests to dine at farms in such places as Geneva, Howey-in-the-Hills and Samsula. 335 N. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood; (321) 203-4535; wildharekitchen.com

FARMERS’ MARKETS

Audubon Park Community Market
When: 5 or 6 p.m.–10 p.m. Mondays
Where: 1842 E. Winter Park Road, Orlando
audubonmarket.com

Winter Park Farmers Market
When: 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturdays
Where: 200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
cityofwinterpark.org

Winter Garden Farmers Market
When: 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays
Where: City Pavilion, Tremaine Street, Winter Garden
wintergardenfarmersmarket.com

Orlando Farmers Market
When: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sundays
Where: Lake Eola Park, Orlando
orlandofarmersmarket.com

Sanford Farmers Market
When: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturdays
Where: 200 E. 1st St., Sanford
facebook.com/sanford.farmersmarket

Lake Meadow Naturals

Lake Meadow Naturals

FARMS

Lake Meadow Naturals
Head to this family-friendly Ocoee gem where eggs, poultry, pork and grass-fed beef are available for purchase inside the farm store, which is open Monday through Saturday. For a real treat, bring the kiddos on Fridays and Saturdays and let them head into the hen house to snag some freshly laid eggs. 10000 Mark Adam Road, Ocoee; (321) 206-6262; lakemeadownaturals.com

Deep Roots
Located in Greenville, Fla., this family-owned farm raises cattle free from grain, antibiotics and growth hormones. All cattle are rotationally grazed on grass and other forages and forbs. Offering a huge variety of cuts, Deep Roots delivers meat orders to Essential Health Market in Altamonte Springs the second Wednesday of each month. (850) 948-6202; deeprootsmeat.com

Florida Fresh Meat Company
On 200-plus acres of his own land as well as in cooperation with 10 or more local farms, owner Jan Tosca produces beef, pork, poultry, goat and more, all of which has been humanely raised without hormones or antibiotics. “We are a local, sustainable meat producer. A one-stop shop,” Tosca says. Florida Fresh Meats supplies meat to several Orlando-area retailers (including Orlando Meats), farmers’ markets and hotels (including Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin), but it also ships orders when requested. (352) 566-8586; floridafreshmeat.com

Deep Creek River Ranch
This Volusia County cattle ranch allows buyers to purchase a whole, a half, a quarter, or an eighth of a 100 percent pasture-raised cow. Those not in a group of buyers can be added to an existing group. 6710 Lake Winona Road, De Leon Springs; (386) 566-112; deepcreekranch.biz

FARM AFFILIATES

Farm Fresh Direct 2 U
Buyers order mixed boxes and à la carte items online (including raw dairy, honey and meat) and Steve Moreau, owner and graduate of the four-year farm apprentice program, visits farms in the Live Oak and Lake City areas of North Florida to pick up the items. Bi-weekly pick-ups are available in Maitland, Winter Garden, Windermere, Kissimmee and Oviedo. farmfreshdirect2u.com

Florida Fields to Forks
Now one of the largest buyers clubs in Florida with 1,200 members, Florida Fields and Forks lets buyers choose from a variety of mixed share boxes, including meat-only boxes. Members pay a one-time fee of $35 and pick up their order in either the Lake Nona area or the Winter Park area. floridafieldstoforks.net

My Food Boxes
Sourcing sustainably and organically grown produce and meats from a half-dozen Central Florida farms, My Food Boxes offers a selection of mixed boxes and à la carte items, including the Economy Meat Me in the Kitchen box, which features a whole chicken, a pound of ground beef, a pound of pork sausage and a dozen eggs for $40 plus delivery. (407) 636-7625; myfoodboxes.com

Homegrown Co-op
This Orlando-based online farmers’ market features mixed boxes and a slew of à la carte items, which are ordered online by 9 a.m. Fridays for a weekend or Monday pick-up. The vast majority of the market’s 300-plus offerings are organic and locally produced within 100 miles of Orlando, including beef from Florida’s Deep Roots ranch and chicken from Lake Meadow Naturals. (407) 895-5559; homegrowncoop.org


Hinckley’s Fancy Meats

Chef Matt Hinckley, formerly of Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami and the Michelin-starred PUBLIC in New York City, recently chose Local Roots at East End Market as the retail hub for his new artisanal charcuterie company.

Sourcing locally from small, independently operated family farms such as Palmetto Creek Farms, Lake Meadow Naturals and Wild Ocean Seafood, Hinckley employs his culinary and globetrotting background in the creation of his namesake products, including Hinckley’s Fancy Bacon, 30-Day Country Ham, Tasso Ham, Breakfast Sausage and Pork Butter.

“I spent a lot of time wandering around the globe, learning different techniques, seeing different cultures and trying to hone my craft.  I can’t think of a better place to put all of that into practice than right here at home in Central Florida,” Hinckley says. “We have some amazing farms here that are putting out world-class ingredients.” hinckleymeats.com

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