Your Guide to Sustainable Meat in Sonoma County
First of all, what is “sustainable” meat? In essence, a farm or butchery that produces sustainable meat focuses on the welfare of the animal and the reduction of methane gases. Sometimes, these efforts also include measures to reduce waste by practicing whole animal butchery (where a business uses all parts of an animal rather than just the parts used in traditional butchery).
Animals raised sustainably don’t receive injections of hormones or antibiotics, and are allowed to roam free rather than be penned or caged in small, crowded spaces.
Additionally, many of the farms or ranches that raise sustainable meats also practice sustainable agriculture or farming. This can involve some or all of the following: Building healthy soils to prevent erosion, working to manage water more effectively, reducing carbon emissions and/or storing carbon, and promoting biodiversity.
Consumers can feel good about buying their food from local farmers, as it not only supports the local economy but also shrinks their carbon footprint and gives them the opportunity to feel comfortable knowing where there food is from and how it was raised.
The following Sonoma County businesses use or create sustainably raised meats and participate in sustainable business practices.
Black Pig Meat Co.
The brainchild of chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Kitchen, Black Pig Meat Co. specializes in slow, dry cured and applewood smoked bacon made from sustainably raised pigs. They source their meat from family farms that raise their animals sustainably, without using any antibiotics or hormones and with plenty of room to roam free.
Order Black Pig Meat Co.’s delicious, sustainable, smoked and dry cured bacon for delivery straight to your door via the business’ online store, try their products at local restaurants (find a list on their website), or purchase at one of the following establishments:
Oliver’s Market (located in Windsor, Santa Rosa, and Cotati)
Big John's Market in Healdsburg
Andy's Produce Market in Sebastopol
Lala’s Jam Bar in Petaluma
Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg
Miracle Plum in Santa Rosa
Victorian Farmstead Meat Company
Victorian Farmstead Meat Company raises its animals as kindly and humanely as possible. After starting out raising most of their own animals, the business realized it could deliver more and higher-quality options by working with other sustainable ranches that they had relationships with. These partner ranches include Langley Farms, Pasturebird Poultry, SunFed Ranch, and Five Dot Ranch. The farm specializes in grass-fed beef and pasture-raised lamb, pork, chicken, and eggs. Victorian Farmstead Meat Company also raises its own turkeys. We recommend making reservations for Thanksgiving turkeys at least 4-8 weeks in advance.
You can visit the full-service butcher-shop at Community Market in Sebastopol, sign up for a subscription box, or find the company at the Friday Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market (as well as other farmers’ markets around the Bay Area, including the Sunday Fort Mason market).
Green Star Farm
Specializing in pasture-raised chickens, eggs, lamb, and pork, Green Star Farm raises all of its own animals on its 85-acre livestock farm in West Sonoma County.
The farm practices intensive rotational grazing methods with the intent of improving the health of their topsoil. Rancher-proprietor Sarah Silva’s goal is to create a regenerative system that employs the animals to aid in the healthy improvement of the ranch’s soil ecosystem.
Green Star Farm’s heritage breed hogs are raised outdoors on pasture and cozy wood chip piles. All of the pigs also receive organic, domestically sourced, soy-free poultry pellets and have plenty of space to run, play, and live their best piggy life. All pig births at Green Star Farm are conducted naturally, without the use of crates or heat lamps.
The farm’s Freedom Ranger Broiler chickens are raised in large bottomless mobile coops. They are moved daily to munch on pasture grasses, bugs, and grubs in fresh pasture and receive organically, domestically sourced, soy-free poultry feed. The farm practices predator-friendly farming by using livestock dogs to protect the chickens.
Goats and sheep are pasture raised, with plenty of space to roam and play together. The farm rotates the animals, using holistic mob grazing methods. When the farm can’t supply the sheep with enough fresh growing grass, their feed is supplemented with the farm’s own hay. All of Green Star Farm’s sheep and goats are grain-free.
You can purchase Green Star Farm’s meats directly by pre-ordering online and picking orders up at the farm during the last week of each month. The farm also offers home delivery on the last Thursday of each month to Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Penngrove, and North Petaluma. Shipping is available to California residents, and the farm also offers a few different farm box subscription options.
Green String Farm
Green String Farm is a working farm in Petaluma. The farm store offers a variety of in-season fruits and vegetables along with local cheeses, farm-fresh eggs, honey, local bread, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, and local dairy products. At Green String Farm, employees practice “natural process agriculture,” keeping the soil and plants healthy and free from pesticides and artificial chemicals.
The farm raises two kinds of pigs, Red Wattles and Mangalitsa, who roam free, foraging and frolicking on thousands of acres side by side. The pigs’ diet is supplemented with pearled barley, rolled wheat, and extruded flax.
Green String Farm cattle spend their summers in Lassen County and their winters at the Meadowbrook Ranch in Tehama County. They have thousands of acres to roam, graze, and reproduce naturally. These free-range cattle are raised completely naturally, meaning that they have never been injected with antibiotics or synthetic hormones, or given any feed or supplement containing animal byproducts.
Last but not least, Green String Farm’s chickens are free-range and raised on Green String vegetables with a supplement of organic chicken feed, meaning the eggs you get from these ladies are organic, cage-free, free-range, and delicious.
The farm is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing local residents to purchase or pick up their food directly from the source.
Panizzera Meat Co.
Started in Occidental in 1914 by Constante and Margaret Panizzera, Italian Immigrants from the Lake Como region of Italy, Panizzera Meat Co. is a more than 100-year-old meat processing facility in Sonoma County. The business specializes in whole animal butchery and all-natural meat products, carrying high-quality USDA prime dry aged steaks, local grass-fed beef, local lamb and goats, locally and sustainably raised pork, and hand-made sausages.
Today, Panizzera’s products can be purchased at markets all over Northern California including many in Sonoma County. The business also has two retail stores and launched a monthly subscription meat-delivery service that offers a few different options to get high-quality meats delivered to your door on a regular basis.
Sonoma County Meat Co.
Voted the Best Butcher Shop in Sonoma County for seven years in a row, Sonoma County Meat Co. sources its meats from local, sustainable family farms, and provides all the cut & wrap, smoking, and sausage-making in-house. The company specializes in producing jerky, bacon, sausage, beef, pork, lamb, goat and rabbit. All of Sonoma County Meat Co.’s packages are vacuum-sealed, labeled, and immediately frozen.
Sonoma County Meat Co.’s cattle are free-range and grass-fed, and raised on a ranch in Knights Valley, just outside Calistoga, that practices regenerative agriculture.
The lambs are raised by the Hamilton Brothers Ranch on native California grasslands in the Montezuma Hills, allowed to graze freely and protected by livestock-guardian dogs.
The pigs Sonoma County Meat Co. butchers are raised humanely and sustainably by third-generation sustainable family farmers less than 150 miles away. No hormones or antibiotics are ever used.
Moving beyond the company’s focus on sustainability when it comes to the meat it sources, Sonoma County Meat Co. is also committed to environmental sustainability and climate-focused business practices.
The company has pledged bold climate action, joining the Race to Zero, making a goal to reach aggressive emission-reduction targets within the next few years. The company has also joined the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), partnering in the global fight to achieve the halving of greenhouse gas emissions before 2030, achieve net-zero emissions before 2050, and halt global temperature rise.
Purchase Sonoma Meat Co.’s products at its store in Santa Rosa, or find products at the Forestville Farmers’ Market, Jack London Square Farmers’ Market, and Healdsburg Farmers’ Market in Sonoma County, as well as at a handful of local markets.
Written by Brooke Herron