As the days grow shorter and the nights colder, many people turn to comfort foods for supper – heavy, rich meals that warm the hearth, heart, and belly, often centered around meats and smothered in a chunky sauce or savory broth. When it comes to sourcing cuts of meat for these winter indulgences, chain supermarkets may seem like the most feasible choice – but many don’t realize the abundance of more wholesome farm riches produced right here in Rhode Island. Mike and Lindsey, the farm and sales managers of Aquidneck Farms, are out to change that conception.
Aquidneck Farms, located on Wapping Road in Portsmouth, is a “meat farm” – they sell beef, chicken, eggs, and pork – but what makes them unique is their mission of regenerative farming on conservation land, which is preserved by the Aquidneck Island Land Trust. In simpler terms: their aim is to keep things as natural as possible for the benefit of the Earth, their animals, and consumers. “We are healing the land,” Lindsey says, and cites the abundance of wildlife as proof: swallows, deer, turtles, and frogs are all signs that the environment is thriving.
The farm team rotates their herd of 200 black angus cattle and 1,200 chickens through the pastures, building soil fertility through droppings, manure, and carbon deposits from root die-off. The team does not use pesticides or added hormones on the animals, instead working with nature to preserve the health of the herd; for example, the calves are not separated from their mothers – so they can gain all the antibodies they need from their mother’s milk – and are allowed to mature on a natural timeline of two to three years before slaughter, compared to just 16 months in a feedlot system.
“Lots of people seek us out for the health benefits and know their beef is raised environmentally friendly and our animals are cared for,” Mike says, explaining that the care is in the taste. “Between being raised on pasture and slower growth, they really have a way better [flavor] profile than anything you can buy in the supermarkets.” You can see it in the dark reddish brown color of the beef, a lesser fat content, and marbling. Even though the store freezes it, the meat itself is also fresher – from the farm to the butcher and back again, fewer steps mean less processing.
Since the pandemic, Lindsey noticed people seem to be more interested in meat. Where their food comes from and how it’s processed are on top of mind, but trends like the carnivore diet of strictly animal products and waste awareness cooking, which means using the whole animal, are becoming increasingly popular. At the Aquidneck Farms store and farmers markets throughout the state, customers are buying nutrient-dense organ meat, such as liver and heart, as well as bones to make homemade stock.
This winter and holiday season, Aquidneck Farms is offering quarter, half, or whole cows, which is great for large gatherings or for meal-prepping. For smaller gatherings or weeknight meals, Mike and Lindsey recommend chuck roasts for slow cookers and stews or brisket for southern-style comfort or sliders.
With Aquidneck Farms located in a farming community on Wapping Road, visiting their farm store for the centerpiece of the table might just prompt an excursion to other farms for sides, accents, or finishing touches on your holiday table.
333 Wapping Road, Portsmouth
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