Frequently Asked Questions
Our farm is not “certified” organic and we are not allowed to even compare ourselves to the term without risk of massive fines, unless we pay membership fees and undergo huge amounts of paperwork. All of that extra cost of certification has nowhere to get passed onto other than onto the consumer, and we believe that customers are smart enough to make their own choices and self-certify their foods when buying directly from the grower. We take a “non-toxic” (a term not trademarked and owned by the government) approach to farming. We believe healthy soil and a robust active ecosystem minimize the need for outside inputs. We use composts and compost tea to help build fertility and to increase soil probiotic activity. In the event that we go out and purchase some type of application to apply in our fields that would build fertility, minimize pests, etc, everything we buy is OMRI orNOP (national organic program) approved. Those are the two lists approved for growers who are certified organic. But ultimately our goal is to always strive to build enough health and resilience into the system by mimicking nature’s models so that the farm can self-sustain itself without purchased inputs. Usually large-scale organic farms do not take this stance and often rely heavily on organic sprays rather than making the effort towards building natural resilence back into the system. Read this essay Beyond Organic by Jo Robinson about why buying direct from the grower is more important than buying certified organic especially with meat.
Is eating local food safer?
Much of the country’s food production is controlled by large corporations. Typically, only a small percentage of money spent on food at a grocery store goes back to the farmer and an even smaller percentage of food is raised by family farms. When you shop direct from the farm, a drastically higher percentage of each dollar spent is recycled back into the local economy. In addition, when you buy direct from the farmer strong relationships are built. This gives the you and the farmer a direct feedback loop to better enhance your eating experience and creates a very strong food safety net.
When you buy food products from Chaffin Family Orchards you know where your food is coming from. The same family has farmed and ranched on this piece of property for 100 years and doing so has put us very attune to our local ecosystems as well as our customers. We raise the same quality of food that we want to eat ourselves and feed to our children. And unlike a company using vast national distributors, we see our customers face to face each week at the farmers market, and we want them to have the best quality safest food possible as well.
You refer to yourself as a farm and ranch, which are you? What is the difference?
Usually a farm refers to row crops and a ranch refers to raising livestock. We’re not the typical version of either and use the terms fairly interchangeably, but we probably relate with the term ranch a little more strongly. Ranches have to fit into an existing ecosystem and find ways to work within it. If you damage your land to the point that your grass won’t regrow then you can’t continue to raise livestock there. A farm really by definition is about redefining an entire ecosystem to make it suitable for production. And farming is typically done on smaller properties because the production is more intensive and requires more management and inputs.
A system where the animals are grass-fed means that the livestock receive nothing but grass, hay, or silage. Conventionally raised animals are raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations and fed diets rich in grain that is not only environmentally intensive to produce and transport, but it has been shown that it produces beef that is not nearly as nutritious and quite possibly damaging to your health. Feedlots are also not a very pleasant place to be for the animals or the people and they come with a multitude of welfare issues.
It’s not always the case, but we believe that grassfed should also mean that they harvest the majority of their feed on their own. Often big brand companies putting grassfed on their label are really just utilizing CAFO feedlots that feed hay and silage exclusively. It’s really important when buying meat to know your grower personally whether you’re most concerned about the environment, the animal’s welfare, or your health as the eater. We regularly hear of big companies that have been caught in green-washing scandals.
Because of the California central valley’s mild climate we don’t have to deal with snow in the winter. So our animals actually stay out all year round on the rangeland eating nothing but grass they harvest themselves and a little bit of hay that we grow on our own property for a couple of months in winter.
Health Benefits of Grassfed Beef
Grass Finished vs. Grassfed vs. Pasture Raised
You’ll see these terms on a wide variety of meat products. Originally the USDA’s definition of grassfed was that only 80% of the animal’s diet had to be from grass. Many conventionally raised feedlot cattle actually qualified with no changes being made to how they were raised (beef cattle will only tolerate a grain diet for a short percentage of their life). Many ranchers direct marketing their own products began putting grassfed and/or grass finished on their label, unfortunately most consumers didn’t understand this. It seems like in most parts of the country the term grass finished has fallen a bit by the wayside, but it simply means the grower is trying to tell you that they were raised exclusively on grass their entire life, which is what grassfed should have meant in the first place.
Pasture raised means something entirely different. It should imply that the animals were simply raised outdoors, on grassy pasture or rangeland, foraging for their natural food. However, it doesn’t disallow the addition of grain to the feed, which is why it’s not really what you want to see on a ruminant meat product (beef, lamb, or goat). You will see it on poultry and pork products, but they are not ruminants and cannot live solely on grass any more than we could live solely on salad greens. They’ll usually receive supplemental feed items which are typically grain based. You’ll have to research if it’s organic grain, soy based, etc. But cattle, sheep, and goats are ruminants who CAN survive on grass alone and it’s ideal for their health during their life, and ultimately the eater’s health, when they’re raised exclusively on grass. So when evaluating beef and lamb products you want to see the words 100% grassfed. This means the animal has eaten only grass and not grain while living in a pasture.
Is grassfed meat better for the environment?
Many consumers today are concerned about the carbon footprint of their foods. And eating local, sustainable foods is a great choice. Eating local food as well as grass finished meats drastically reduces consumption of fossil fuels. Typically animals and their conventional feedstuffs are trucked vast distances all over the country to get animals to a finished weight and then the meat is shipped all over the country again for consumption. A calorie of food can take as much as 15 calories of energy to produce and deliver in our modern agricultural system.
Grassfed animals, when raised in a rotational grazing system, are actually being used as tools all over the world to sequester MASSIVE amounts of atmospheric carbon by stimulating grass growth with periods of short duration grazing, followed by varying lengths of rest or recovery. This is mimics how native wild herds would have grazed. All of our grassfed animals are born on our ranch and they are taken to a local USDA inspected harvest facility. More importantly, having an economically sustainable farm and ranch helps maintain open space for wildlife and preserve natural beauty for the community to enjoy as well. Many of the brightest minds in the world are saying that keeping grazing livestock and getting back to a pasture based system is crucial for reversing climate change.
Read this article The Amazing Benefits of Grassfed Meat – Mother Earth News by Richard Manning
And this incredible video Cattle The Cure For Climate Change by Allen Savory
What is Dry Aged Beef?
We dry age the beef for a minimum of 21 days. Dry aging is a process where the meat is held at about 33 or 34 degrees and water is allowed to evaporate from the beef while the meat’s own enzymes act to break down and tenderize the meat. This old fashioned traditional aging method results in an extremely mild and tender finished product. Dry aged beef of this caliber is what you what you find at a 5 star quality steak house. (Wikipedia Dry Aged Beef)
How do we buy your beef?
We usually start taking reservations for halves and wholes of beef around March. The beef is then ready typically around early June. We also have cuts of beef in farmers market, and here at the ranch, throughout the summer months until we sell out.
How much room do I need for half a beef?
A half of beef will take 7 cubic feet and a whole will take 14 cubic feet. Freezers are surprisingly inexpensive, they can usually pay for their purchase within one year on the savings of buying in bulk. They also take up far less space than most people imagine and cost very little to run each month. Look at the energy start ratings on the freezers for an estimate on what they cost to run each year.
Does the half of beef come cut up and packaged?
Yes the beef is cut and wrapped for you. We currently have 3 cut and wrap styles for you to choose from on how you’d like your beef cut. When we send out order forms in March you’ll be able to review and select the cut option that best suits your needs. When you pick up your beef it will be individually packaged, labeled with cut and weight, boxed, and ready for your freezer.
How much will I save?
We try to use a goal of approximately 20% savings in purchasing half over purchasing retail cuts.
What does Extra Virgin Mean?
By Definition all virgin oils are “obtained only from the olive, the fruit of the olive tree, using solely mechanical or other physical means, in conditions, particularly thermal conditions, which do not alter the oil in any way. They have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtering.”
Extra Virgin Olive Oil has to meet those above standards and also have “a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of no more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams (0.8%), and whose other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOOC standards. Extra virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. This is the highest quality of olive oil. Note that extra virgin olive oils vary widely in taste, color, and appearance.” The Olive Oil Source
However, it’s best to know your grower first hand because “as the United States is not a member, the IOC retail grades have no legal meaning in that country; terms such as “extra virgin” may be used without legal restrictions.” – Wikipedia
Is your olive oil Cold Pressed? Is it first press?
Yes our oil is cold press and first press, meaning our oil comes from the first pressing of the olives and the oil never gets above room temperature.
What’s the shelf life of the olive oil?
Olive oil of this caliber can last for up to 18 months so long as it’s stored away from heat and light. It will keep for up to two years if stored in the refrigerator.
How do I store Olive Oil?
The olive oil needs to be stored away from heat, light, and air. For most folks this means in your dark pantry or cupboard, away from your stove or oven. If you’re going to have a gallon of oil for more than a few months you might consider transferring to smaller individual containers. Five cleaned out empty wine bottles will hold a gallon. This will limit oxidation. And for the ultimate protection from heat, light, and air you can store in the fridge. The oil will solidify there so we recommend using smaller containers, mason jars work well, and keeping one opaque container in the pantry at room temperature for regular use.
What is Chef’s blend olive oil?
If you’re trying to reduce your in take of refined vegetable oils be sure to ask your restaurant if they’re using a chef’s blend which is typically 70% olive oil blended with 30% canola oil. It’s one of the industries dirty little secrets that keeps oil milder and more shelf stable.
How much olive oil will I need for a year?
The average couple goes through 3 to 5 gallons a year. The average family of 3 to 5 people goes through 4 to 10 gallons a year. However if you’re making your own olive oil mayonnaise, or pesto, or storing sun dried tomatoes or other dried products in oil, these numbers can go up significantly. People very often though tell us that they underestimate when buying in bulk and don’t realize how much they buy in a year.
We grow various varieties of apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, figs, avocados, pomegranates, pears, persimmons, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and olives. Many of our varieties are old fashioned heritage or heirloom varieties. You can learn more about the effort being taken to preserve rare varieties at Slow Food Ark Of Taste.
What do you do to manage your orchards?
Instead of synthetic chemicals we foster a symbiotic relationships between animals and plants to build a mutually beneficial result. We use cover crops and animal rotations to help control vegetation and fertilize the orchards naturally. This helps to assure not only a sweet tasty fruit but a healthier system for you, the eater, as well.
Why does your produce taste so good?
Our fruit has superior flavor for a few reasons. Our location is prime for long growing seasons and our soils are rich in minerals contributing to the flavor of the fruits. Since our family has been farming these grounds since 1912 many of our fruit varieties come from trees that have reached their full maturity which leads to only the sweetest fruits. Most importantly though, we pick our fruit just prior to sale. We select only the ripest fruit to harvest and we handle our produce with the utmost care. We sell direct to the customer and we know that only the finest quality products will lead to repeat business.
What is brix?
Brix is a measurement determining the concentration of dissolved solids most of which are sucrose in a specific crop. It ultimately tells us how sweet either produce or pasture is on a measurable scale. We record this data to give us another feedback method to ensure that we are producing only the finest quality fruit year after year.
No Shipping Meat/Stonefruits
We do not ship stonefruits or any meat products. The challenge in shipping fragile stonefruits or frozen meats is not worth the added headache and we recommend people try to find these items at local farms in their area. Use www.localharvest.org and www.eatwild.com to find farmers and ranchers in your community.
Will you do Custom Orders?
We do not do custom orders. Please do not call or email requesting custom orders. We only ship what is available in our webstore and do not put together special orders with mixtures of various kinds of citrus, or olive oil in any other quantities or containers than what we have listed as currently available.
Do you sell in my area?
Go to the Where to Buy page on our site to find to find out where we are currently selling our products.