Fresh & Local
Croftburn Market, Part 2
Column #10, Published Nov 25th, 2011
There is currently a food revolution going on, and locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat.
Last week, I started a conversation with the owner of Croftburn market, Andrew Campbell. Croftburn Market is retail market specializing in locally grown and produced food. It opened at the end of July next to Bruster’s Ice Cream on Rodgers Road.
Po Bronson in his book “What Should I Do with My Life” quotes a guy named Joe who says, “I used to use business to make money. But I’ve learned that business is a tool. You can use it to support what you believe in.”
While talking about the benefits of a retail channel for local food, Andrew mentions the difficulty of always planning ahead. Most local farmers’ markets run only once a week. But what do you do if you decide you need something local mid-week?
Croftburn Market sells fresh local lamb, chicken, beef, pork, and a full line of sausages made on-site. Andrew is a local butcher, like what used to be common half a century ago. He also believes that locally grown meat has big quality benefits.
Take hamburger for example. When I was in high school, I worked in the meat department of a supermarket in the Richmond area. The meat cutters would collect fat and trimmings in barrels. They then bought bull beef from Argentina that was frozen in 50 lb. blocks. Their hamburger was the bull beef and the contents of the barrels ground together. The only U.S. product in their hamburger was the fat and trimmings.
Andrew says that it is a fairly common practice to use foreign beef to make hamburger. Foreign beef is often cheaper than domestic beef. But it is also impossible to know how foreign beef was handled. The risk of bacterial contamination is significantly greater in ground beef, so the USDA now recommends that burgers be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. That is in the medium-well to well done range, with no sign of pink.
Croftburn Market, on the other hand, uses only local beef in their hamburger. The hamburger is simply ground chuck and sirloin. It is more expensive to make it that way, but the hamburger tastes like chuck and sirloin, and you know where it came from.
There is only a limited amount of space in the display case, so Andrew keeps only the basics on display. But he stocks all the primal cuts in back, so he can cut to order just about anything. He will even custom cut a whole side or a half side of beef.
He also makes beef jerky. And it is real jerky, not the highly processed, chopped and formed stuff that you see at the check-out counters of convenience stores. Andrew has customers that buy jerky for their kids. When you think about it, jerky is high in protein, with almost no sugar or fat. Andrew said, “I know kids as young as five that can taste the difference. They love this, but won’t eat the other stuff. You don’t have to explain ‘local’ to them.”
I have one final question for Andrew. I know how important good food is to him, so I ask, “Surrounded by all this good food in here, do you do much cooking yourself?” Andrew laughs, “I do like to cook, but being open seven days a week doesn’t leave me much time.”
Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org