CSA–Consumer Supported Agriculture
Healthy dining, healthy cooking, healthy lifestyle. I started with “Paleo,” as it was all the rage at the moment. Turned out to be more of a lifestyle shift, and one I’m growing more fond of each day. The basic premise is to “Eat like a caveman,” and that’s when I started to shop earnestly at the various Farmers Markets around town. Cage-free eggs from drug-free chickens, free-range grass-fed beef, and organic local produce.
One of then more engaging vendors was a couple from D’Hanis. Part of what intrigued me, the word was that the farm, ranch, had been in the family from a land grant — 1846 — part of the Castro colonies.
The couple looked like a pair of typical Austin 20-something hipsters, except they looked healthy, exhibiting the glow that comes from strenuous outdoor labor. Meet Travis and Mandy Krause, sustainably farming heritage land. There’s an effervescent quality when Travis talks about the land, the ranch.
“It’s free range, only we have a fence; the fence isn’t to keep the chickens in, it’s to keep the predators out.”
He went on to explain, the “Mobile Chicken Ranch,” — the mobile hen coop on wheels. Part of the natural diet includes free-range chickens and eggs. So far, the Parker Creek Ranch eggs have been the very best. Out of every dozen? No two eggs are the same color, with hues from sky blue through ochre to the usual tan, some mottled with spots. No two eggs have been exactly the same size, either. Happy chickens, and they get to run wild eating bugs, and rocks, wild food, and whatever grass can be foraged.
Travis talked about rotating the chicken ranch through various pastures as sustainable farming. This process produces the best eggs, with a creamy texture and better flavor. The chicken breasts — when he has chicken meat available? Perhaps some of the best tasting chicken I’ve ever eaten. One of the reasons I’ve grown to enjoy it? The packages of breasts, even when he tries, no two breasts seem to be the same size. For a civilized, city-child like myself? It’s a noticeable difference. I did mention their chicken tastes so much better, didn’t I?
They’ve added beef and pork, and the beef has an almost sweet taste to it.
Last spring, they offered a CSA option. I didn’t really know what it was but signed up immediately. I was in for a “half share,” which is both a great deal and intriguing as an investment. Community Supported Agriculture is like buying in with the farmer.
The food is incredible. Parker Creek Ranch supplies at least a half dozen of the upper-end restaurants around town.
I’ve had “pig” from both the grocery store and several farmers market vendors. The best ground pork is from Parker Creek, as is the bacon. The beef tastes sweet, and as far as humane?
Travis hooked a thumb over at Mandy, “She’s vegetarian. You know our animal welfare is best.”
Travis himself has said it, “This is about sustainable commercial farming — it’s what we do.”
Community Supported Agriculture is not new, but has growing acceptance. For more about Parker Creek Ranch, their CSA, see them at either the South Town or Quarry Famers Markets, or look at the website.
Farmers Market Serrano pepitos