Eating Local Beef & Dairy in Sonoma County

This summer we took another step towards eating more local, organic and grass fed. Produce has always been easy for us to eat locally and organically because if we don’t grow it ourselves we have endless choices here in Sonoma County for finding what we do want. We can get local milk by buying Clover Stornetta in the grocery store, but what about beef, specifically grass fed beef and butter?
Earlier this summer a good friend of mine, who is a journalist, was asked to write a story on local cheese. One of the cheese makers told her that our cheeses are so good because of the great dairies the milk comes from and that she should go check out McClelland’s Dairy. She took a tour and raved about it, which of course I signed up for in about half a second. So on one Saturday afternoon I rallied the troops and we headed west of Petaluma.
What a great afternoon we had walking around, petting calves, admiring the beaucolic scenery, learning about the organic dairy business, and even milking a cow!
McClelland’s is a family run organic dairy which sells most of their milk to Clover Stornetta. It was really interesting to learn about how a diary runs. And the entire family was so nice, I highly recommend that you take a tour if you can. At the end of the tour you get the option to buy their butter, which is made from organic grassfed milk. I sent Scott up to the counter to buy a 5lb brick of it. ‘Really, do we need SO much?’ he asked. Yes, yes we do! We cut it up into bar sized chunks and have been enjoying it on toast and homemade jam all summer long.

The other thing we began to research was how to buy grassfed beef. After watching Food Inc. and reading beef recall after beef recall, we did our best to eliminate all beef from our diet that wasn’t grass fed and somewhat local (from California). But that gets to be expensive, especially when your little boys are growing to be bigger eaters every day! So we did some research on but ended up buying from a local source here in Sonoma, Beltane Ranch. I had seen their sign as I’ve driven up Highway 12 for a while now that they had grassfed beef but they recently added a sign down by the square to advertise too. So we called and now we have a quarter of a cow in our freezer!

We happened to call just in time, they had just slaughtered the cows by using a local, traveling butcher, and sent the beef down to Broadway Market for them to dry age for 20+ days, butcher down and wrap up. We eagerly awaited our order and went to pick up our 187 lbs late in July. Each package came neatly wrapped and marked with the cut, which includes at least one cut of everything imaginable and about 40lbs of ground beef and stew bones.

We’ve had hamburgers several times now and I have to say that we are eating the best hamburgers I’ve ever had! The butchers got the fat/meat ratio just right and the deepened flavor from dry aging and grass feeding really comes through. The bigger cuts of meat we are getting better at cooking as they are much, much leaner and cook faster that your typical beef. However I think we’ve gotten the hang of it and had an incredible London Broil the other night.

All in all, I believe we paid around $4.50 per pound for this meat, which for dry aged, grass fed beef is a steal!

You can read more about Beltane Ranch’s grass fed beef and also check out the Sonoma County Meat Buying Club if you are interested in getting a wider range of meats on a monthly basis.


Filed under dairy, Life in Sonoma, what we've learned

14 responses to “Eating Local Beef & Dairy in Sonoma County

  1. Thanks so much for this post! I just made reservations for our family to tour McClelland’s next month, and we are super excited.


  2. Kitter

    I grew up in Santa Rosa (now live in East Bay – so not too far!), and Clover Stornetta brings up such a nostalgic Sonoma Co thing for me! That freaky cow – love it! 🙂
    This isn’t quite as local, but Clark Summit Farm in Tomales is wonderful! Highly recommend arranging a tour – Liz is a kick, and an amazing person. We got some of the pork – yum!

  3. How great to have a local dairy that you can visit and buy from.

    I was raised on home-grown beef that my parents raised, so needless to say I love beef. My husband and I stopped eating CAFO beef after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and watching Food, Inc. (yikes!). We now get our beef (which we don’t eat very often) from Prather Ranch. I believe they are in the Shasta area, and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op sells it. It’s a treat and very good beef.

  4. Claire

    We have getting our meat from Chileno Valley Ranch in Petaluma for five years now.Wonderful family, great products. They have u pick apples and branching out to lamb.

    Sonoma COunty still has some great onsite old school ranch butchers too. We use Bud’s Custom Meats on Petaluma hill Rd for our lamb and pig. Chileno Valley uses Ibletos. I have been happy with both.

  5. Wow, what a fantastic idea. That is so wonderful that you have these resources locally! I love that you were able to buy the butter right from the source. I bet it’s divine!

  6. Laura

    Thanks so much for the information. I have been driving past Beltane and thinking about how the meat was. Now I think I may give it a try….$4.50 a pound is really reasonable. How much room does it take up in your freezer?

  7. Hi, I just rediscovered your blog as I was looking for canning labels. I had my third baby this July at home. I have a 7 and 4 year old. I am now juggling baby, harvest, big kids and all that comes with it. It is challenging and wonderful, as was my pregnancy. Best of luck.


  8. Mar

    Why even eat beef at all? In one entry, you show the child of a fellow being – that you could eat; in the next you show your own child – precious. Animals such as cattle have family units also, and grieve at the loss of their children. Just food for thought.

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  11. Alison

    I would love to know if you still get your beef from here, and an updated review of the rest of the order you got. Was it good? Do you have other local resources for your protein? Thanks in advance. Alison

    • asonomagarden

      We still do get our meat from Beltane. It’s delicious. In fact we go to pick up our third year’s order in a week and a half.

  12. Pingback: A Third Year of Buying Grassfed | A Sonoma Garden

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