Coastal Bend farmers can help offset some food shortages
Large-scale food suppliers are seeing shortages of meat and commodities that are affecting both their supply and prices due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and weather events such as the deep frost in February.
This translates into higher prices in local and national grocery stores and restaurants.
But did you know that there are farmers in Coastal Bend who sell meat and produce directly to the public?
“I get a lot of surprised and happy people who are excited to know they can go out and see how their food is grown and produced,” Andrew Edelin of Edelen Farms said via email. “Know your farmer and know where your food comes from!”
Edelen Farms has been in Alice since the 1980s and has sold direct to the public since the late 1990s. Originally owned by Greg and Lauren Edelen, their youngest son Andrew now owns and operates the land.
Local meat markets have reported increased meat prices from their distributors throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, and no later than Labor Day weekend, the owner of Moody’s Quality Meats, Charlie Moench, said that due to the high demand, cows are brought to the market with less meat. Lean cows make less meat available to everyone.
This is not a problem Edelen said his farm has had, since he raises his animals from birth and decides when they are ready to be transformed.
“We don’t see any domino effect or any reason to increase prices,” he said.
The problem he has encountered, however, is finding butchers available when it comes to treating his animals.
“We have to plan six months in advance or more, and it’s hard to predict what you need and the availability of animals,” he said.
Edelin Farms sells grass-fed beef, free-range chickens and turkeys available in season. It also offers free-range eggs and seasonal vegetables.
However, shopping for produce at a local farm won’t have the same wide selection as a grocery store. HEB and other big chains have the advantage of being able to import vegetables and fruits from global sources, while farms like Andrew’s are limited to the selection they grow themselves or access through other local farms.
“If you go to a grocery store and want grapes, they might buy it in Florida one week, (Peru) the next week, South Africa the third week, California the fourth week, and so on to get grapes on their shelf all year round., “he said. “While my farm grows and sells our own produce, we may only have grapes on the vine and in the market for four weeks a year. “
But what Edelen Farms lacks in concentration of supply it makes up for in diversity.
Beef, chicken and turkeys grown on the farm are ultimately capable of producing around 50 or more individual products, he said.
“(Then) you look at the garden side of the farm, and I produce over 50 different fruits and vegetables and 10 different citrus fruits at the time of writing,” he said.
So while large farms focus on growing between one and five specific crops, Andrew said he plants different items that produce at different times of the year.
“I face the same seasons as the grocery farms, but instead of making hundreds of acres of veg that are all prepared at the same time and (maybe) harvesting three weeks a year, I do pruning. smaller and therefore (various) something grows all year round and is harvested every week. “
So while he may not be able to sell someone garlic, tomatoes, peppers and whatever else they need for a salad in the Cultivate the local farmers market, he likes to show them how they can use the ingredients he has on hand to always prepare a meal. It also offers farming tips and tricks on the farm. Facebook page.
Because his year-round garden is only two years old, he said, he sometimes goes to the grocery store to buy additional ingredients. But growing up on his parents’ farm, eggs and meat were never things he had to leave home for until he joined the US Marine Corps.
He said he hopes that in a few years the same can be said of vegetables and fruits.
“I haven’t spent the whole year doing my shopping at the store yet, but I’m sure in a few years it will be just as weird to buy vegetables from the store,” he said. “I’ve never been afraid of food shortages or what to do if stores go bankrupt.”