With monthly deliveries of locally-raised meats right to your doorstep, the Larder Club offers service that’s a cut above.
Jensen and Grace Lorenzen launched The Larder Meat Co. last April and made their first Larder Club deliveries in May.
Many diners may remember the husband-and-wife team from their first restaurant — Papillion in Baywood Park, which was open 2006 to 2008. They operated the Cass House in Cayucos from 2008 to 2013. At both respected locations, the couple’s dedicated farm-to-table approach celebrated Central Coast farmers and ranchers.
“We hope to keep local meat here because we know who raised it and how they raised it,” Grace Lorenzen said. Her husband added that this approach “evokes a more sustainable way to be a consumer of meat, to be a responsible omnivore.”
The task of developing a small-scale supply chain for local meats has several challenges, including establishing an acceptable price point that works for both producers and consumers.
The most cost-effective way to supply such meats is to purchase whole animals directly from producers, Jensen Lorenzen explained. However, that’s not a viable alternative for the average consumer.
That’s where the Larder Club comes into play. It works much like a CSA program does for produce farms — by guaranteeing a demand for an end product.
With that definite consumer base, The Larder Meat Co. can purchase whole animals, have them processed at a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified butcher, and distribute the freshly frozen meats through the Larder Club subscriptions. Customers can sign up for a Larder Club share of about 10 pounds ($149 a month) or a larger box of 13 to 14 pounds ($199 a month.).
Cuts will vary, but a sample shipment includes beef steaks, a whole chicken, ground beef and ground pork. (Each portion is individually packaged in plastic.) In addition, the Lorenzens include handcrafted extras such as spice rubs for roasts and breakfast sausage seasonings.
“We want to give people the tools to work with the products,” Grace Lorenzen said. The couple is always happy to offer other cooking tips via email, and several recipe ideas are noted on the company website.
Recently, the Larder Club began expanding its scope outside the monthly shares with occasional themed boxes. Supplies are limited, but customers don’t have to be regular subscribers to purchase a breakfast box with eggs, bacon and coffee, or a holiday ham box with a ham, sausage and bacon.
Currently, the Lorenzens are working with a handful of local meat producers. Those include Rinconada Dairy in Santa Margarita, Stepladder Creamery in Cambria and Swan Family Angus, Adelaida Springs Ranch and Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles; one collaborator, Winfield Farms in Buellton, is owned by Grace Lorenzen’s aunt and uncle.
“We’re always looking for more products and producers,” Jensen Lorenzen said.
As the Larder Club continues to grow, “each individual producer will reach their comfort zone as to what they can provide us,” he said. “But that’s the beauty of this system — we can have that conversation with them and adjust to their scale.”
Granted, there are aspects of the Larder Club that won’t fit every household. Maybe the frequency of a monthly delivery is too often, or cooks want more specific cuts of meat, or the price is too high.
However, The Larder Meat Co. concept is still one to be considered.
“It’s really a call to action for consumers — this is how it works if you want to eat local proteins,” Jensen Lorenzen explained. “You know where your consumer dollars are going. This is really helping local ranchers, helping small family operations and keeping local ag viable.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Larder Meat Co.
San Luis Obispo
Expect to spend: Small subscription boxes of about 10 pounds cost $149 a month. Larger boxes of 13 to 14 pounds are $199 a month.