Buy steaks from Kamas, not Kansas
June 4, 2010
Eating local can be difficult in Summit County where a short growing season limits most farmers to hay and salad greens. That’s never hampered cattle ranchers, making beef the "low hanging fruit" of local food, say members of the Summit County Food Coalition.
Earlier this year several parties including grocery stores, government agencies and nonprofits formed the coalition to talk about getting locally-produced food onto Park City dinner tables.
"We started with beef and will try to expand it to other products. It was something we could achieve in a short amount of time," explained Anne Flinn, project manager for the Summit Land Conservancy and member of the coalition.
The company Flashpoint and the Park City Chamber/Bureau helped develop a brand, and the coalition found a Kamas rancher to pull an animal back from his normal shipment out of state to be harvested and packaged in Lewiston, Utah, and then trucked to The Park City Market for consumption starting last Saturday.
Walt Penegar in the store’s meat department said it’s been selling quickly.
"It’s taken off really well. I was quite surprised," he said.
Recommended Stories For You
The beef is healthier, has a much lower carbon footprint, and most importantly, Flinn said, the money goes back into the community instead of to ranchers or packers far away.
The grade is between Choice and Select. The price is slightly higher than normal beef but a lot less than organic kinds, Penegar said.
Another member of the coalition, Utah Department of Agriculture director of marketing Seth Winterton, said the project is in perfect harmony with the state’s "Utah’s Own" initiative.
To support small businesses and enhance economic development, the department’s "Utah’s Own" program promotes eating local.
"It provides a conscientious choice for locals to buy locally-produced products," he explained. "It’s about buying Lehi Mills instead of General Mills."
The items might cost a little more, but all of that money is going back into the community instead of California, Mexico or wherever else the food is from, Flinn said. Food on average travels 1,500 miles, she added.
"The cow next door is the easiest way to eat, but the system isn’t set up that way," she said.
The current beef at Park City Market is in limited supply. It’s being called a "pre-pilot" program. If there’s interest a pilot program will start in fall, Flinn said.
It’s the only program of its kind in the state, Winterton added.
Penegar said it’s selling so well he’s in communication with the supplier in Kamas to send another cow. There’s a two-week wait time, so it’s possible to run out of certain cuts, but he hopes to keep it stocked. Winterton said there’s probably enough meat in the pre-pilot program to last beyond Father’s Day.
Hopefully, the pilot program will feature higher amounts of the product in more stores this fall, Flinn said.
Once it’s off and running, the next focus product will likely be lamb and then hogs, mused Michelle Devaney, coordinator for the Uinta Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development another coalition member.
Morgan County has had a successful lamb operation carried by Harmon stores for several years, Winterton pointed out.
"It’s an opportunity to support neighbors, buy fresher and buy better," he said. "It puts a face on this food so people actually know who they’re getting it from."
Eating local helps keep open space in agricultural production, Flinn added. It also promotes responsible use of natural resources, Devaney said.
Other members of the coalition include staff from Park City’s town hall, East Side ranchers, the Utah State University Extension Office, Copper Moose Farms and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Flinn invites all Summit County residents to take a survey about locally-raised beef at Summitcountybeef.com.
View Summit County Beef in a larger map