Frequently Asked Questions
Three Ways to Customize Your Order
1. Set it and forget it.
After you join, you set your initial preferences for the year. We keep track of your deliveries and compare what you've received with the percentages requested. Each month, we review your account and base the items delivered on the season, our availability and your preferences. So for example if your account said you needed 'more steaks' based on your preferences and past deliveries, then we'd try to deliver steaks next.... UNLESS it is January, in which case we'd hold off until April or May.
2. Pick sometimes
Every month, we email a reminder link so members can opt-in to pick specific boxes for their delivery. Some people pick this option here or there, but many let us pick for them.
We refine member's preferences over time, so if someone emails asking for more pork chops, but our system says they already have too many pork chops, we'll adjust their target preferences based on that request. This ensures that option #1 ("set it and forget it") is more accurate the longer people are members.
3. Actively Pick
Some people have personal preferences where they let us know, "Every month I want three whole chickens and a package of bacon and brats. Every third month I'd like a box of steaks."
Yes, we can do that too! It's super easy to log in to our portal and just pick exactly the package or packages you want to get!
Will it fit in my freezer?
Q: The freezer in my refrigerator has a small freezer. Will I have enough room to store a subscription?
Longer answer: Our typical 10-pound package fits in a 12"x6"x8" box. Often members will receive two of these per delivery.
Most of our processed meat items (Bacon, Brats, etc) can also be kept safely in a fridge to conserve freezer space.
For those spending less than $300 per month, each package should fit easily into a normal freezer. It begins to get a little trickier for those spending $400 or $500 per month. A typical monthly subscription will take up less than one cubic foot of freezer space
Regardless, we recommend a small chest freezer for most customers, they can be as small as 2x?3 and cost $300. Most people find they are a good investment for more than just our subscription.
If I don't need a delivery every month, will I still be charged a monthly fee?
Members may choose to skip a delivery anytime they'd like -- some travel in the summer or winter and suspend their account for a few months. We don't charge monthly fees. Your account is only charged for the amount of food you receive. It takes exactly one click of a button to skip your next delivery!
If I want to change my order, how far in advance do I let you know?
Every month, you'll get a reminder about the next month's package. We'll let you know what you'll be getting based on the preferences you set and the items you've received. Each month you can review the available items and change out the package with something else. We don't customize to the individual cut -- so if the package we recommended has a ribeye steak and you wanted a tenderloin, you'll need to choose the package that has a tenderloin instead (we can't swap out that individual item).
The cutoff for letting us know about changes is the last day of the month (for the next month's delivery).
What is your cancellation policy?
New members wanting to try out our food can sign up for a subscription. If for whatever reason the program or food doesn't work for your family, you can cancel after the first delivery.
Sometimes subscribers need to stop their deliveries. Since we raise all of our animals seasonally, our group carries a large inventory and makes plans years in advance to ensure we have enough food for your family. This helps lock in prices so we can avoid passing on large increases when grain or hay prices fluctuate wildly.
While this commitment creates a lot of value for our members, it also locks the cooperative group in for costs far into the future. In exchange, we’d appreciate as much notice to cancel as possible.
If you're simply receiving too much product, let us know that you'd like to either skip a delivery or reduce your budget.
If you’re not moving out of town, we’d much prefer the opportunity to customize your package for the types of meats and price point you need instead of canceling. Most of the time we’re able to accommodate our subscribers’ needs and can make up a package that fits well for their family. If you need cooking advice for a particular item, let us know!
If we’re unable to make your membership work for your family, our cancellation policy is 90 days. If you need to cancel, please let us know some of your favorite items so we can ensure you leave the group with just what you’d like for the last couple of deliveries.
Where at all possible, we use only organic spices in our sausages, deli meats and 'warm and serve' meals.
All ingredients are on each package's label, so you'll always know what is in the item.
Here are some common sensitivities:
- Gluten: Never used
- Dairy: Used in just a couple of products (lemon butter chicken, bockwurst brats and a couple of deli meats)
- Corn: Used only in our pepperoni
- Nightshades: Used in a lot of our products, some sort of pepper is in many items. However, you can order a package of 'just fresh brats' that would not have these in them.
- Eggs: Uncommon, currently only in bockwurst brats. And, of course, our eggs. ;)
- Soy: Only used in a couple of our products where we're using the local organic triple crown BBQ sauce (smoked ribs, pulled pork, etc)
- Citrus: uncommon, I believe only in our lemon butter chicken at the moment
What about Corn and Soy?
We provide feed that is appropriate for each type of animal. All of our feed is transition or certified organic - so that means no GMO grains.
Pigs seem to do better without soy and the result is a higher quality and healthier meat. They are omnivores with a simliar diet to ours, so they need grain and also seem to benefit from some corn. However, since we don't feed them any soy, they get significantly less corn and a more diverse/balanced diet of field peas and small grains like barley, wheat, oats, flax etc.
We have raised our chickens both soy free and with soy. When raising chickens without any soy, they need other ingredients that are arguably not as good (like lots of fishmeal or synthetic essential animo acids). Basically, as birds they need a higher energy diet with a lot of specialized animo acids which are best supplied by soy. I find that our organic soy fed chickens are healthier and look better than the others and we try to focus the feed on what is healthiest for the animals.
We still experiment with different feed rations to try and get the best feed for them, but over the last decade, we have found that a little bit of soy is better for them than no soy at all. This is especially true when they are chicks and just starting off their development. We do have chickens that are finished without soy, but they just have a healthier life if we get them some as part of a balanced diet.
Our ruminants (cows and lamb) are 100% grass fed, but actually graze grass from the pasture instead of the candy, sawdust and rotten fruit that feedlot store bought ‘grass fed’ animals are too often fed.
All of our animals are raised on pasture. You can see videos on our webpage that are representative of every aspect of the care of our animals.
What About Sugar?
We don’t add sugar into any of our fresh meats. Some of our sausages like fresh breakfast sausage, Sous Chef smoked chicken are sugar free.
However, once we smoke a sausage, we (and everyone) are required by the government to either use synthetic nitrates OR use celery powder and a natural fermentation process to cure the meat. The fermentation process requires a small amount of organic sugar to be added, so all of our ‘no nitrate’ smoked meats have some sugar in them.
This is the case for anyone who is following regulations as well. Some of our smoked meats have additional sugar added to match the style of the product. As a member you can select just the items that are sugar free if you wish.
Do we need to refrigerate TC Farm eggs?
Yes. The short version is that by Minnesota law, all eggs need to be washed and, once washed, because washing has removed some of the coating, they need to be kept refrigerated.
Some Background on Safety of eggs, in case you want to know:
Most contamination of eggs occurs from sick chickens who have salmonella inside their ovaries and thus the eggs become contaminated independent of any sort of washing or storage strategies. By keeping our hens healthy and free of salmonella infections, we reduce the risk of illness.
The European standards take a different approach to contamination handling after the eggs than the US. They require vaccinations for Salmonella to reduce the possibility of contamination before laying, where as the US does not require this. Eggs raised in a factory setting (most of the EU or US) can be assured to mostly* be clean on the shell, which would reduce the risk of contamination from bacteria entering the shell.
However hens with access outside of cages are going to have some eggs which are soiled on the outside. NOT cleaning these eggs will increase the risk of contamination through the shell.
There is surprisingly little practical protection from the bloom on the egg in terms of protecting a soiled egg from contamination (just ask any farmer who has picked up a dirty egg in a field after a couple of weeks of being hidden).
Washing dirty eggs by hand which have NOT been refrigerated right before eating them would create additional health safety risks. The temperature differential between the eggs and the water isn't significant enough to ensure bacteria doesn't go INTO the egg from the outside. As mentioned below, we use hot water to sanitize the eggs, but the temps are carefully monitored to ensure the eggs are safe.
Reasons for Refrigeration
In the US, that risk is mitigated by cleaning the eggs so the shell is more likely to be free of bacteria and allow for safer refrigeration. Furthermore refrigeration protects the eggs which may have been contaminated before being laid by reducing the growth of bacteria already inside of the shell.
In my personal experience, and reading about both options, the cleaning of eggs not appear to increase the risk of leaving eggs on the counter or room temp as commonly described online.
The downside of refrigeration is that you really should have all eggs cleaned really well (even factory eggs). Which they are.
Besides safety, the benefit of refrigeration is that the quality of the eggs themselves is dramatically higher. Eggs on a counter for a week will see their quality degrade about the same as eggs in a refrigerator for a month.
There is no benefit from keeping eggs on the counter besides convenience. Their quality doesn't increase and, even in an EU system, the safety of the eggs is reduced (although this is a fairly low risk factor there due to the required vaccinations).
Some farms use more toxic chemicals to sanitize their eggs, these chemicals are NOT required under Minnesota and USDA rules.
Cleaning the eggs IS required under Minnesota rules and the process in Minnesota is a bit more stringent than in other states. Personally, we think these regulations are good for the public and even for farmers.
We use hot water and hydrogen peroxide to sanitize the outside of most of our eggs. This doesn't seem to have any safety or cross contamination concerns.
We also work really hard to keep the eggs as clean as possible when they are laid, so this reduces the risk of contamination as well.
What's included in a standard subscription?
When you sign up, you pick the items you want for your first delivery and set a monthly budget.
Once you are a member, you can customize your subscription to meet your household's preference and budget. The customize tool defaults to a base subscription. You can change this to be whatever fits your family. The defaults are:
- Equal amounts of fresh beef, pork and chicken
- The chicken will be all cutup in packages of boneless breasts, thighs, wings, etc. Whole chickens are available if requested.
- About 25-30% will be some of our amazing organically spiced, no-nitrate added bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, brats, sausages, smoked chicken, etc. (Just try to find organic versions of any of this at the grocery or farmer's market!)
- You may register to receive eggs if you'd like.
Does It Cost More?
If you’re comparing with cheap conventionally farmed meats, our food will cost more. However, if you compare with factory farmed organic meats, our products are often less expensive.
Two good examples are chicken and deli ham:
When it comes to taste and health, our chicken is in a league of its own. The breeds we use take over twice as long to raise and we use organic feed that costs two to three time more than conventional. The birds we raise live on lush pasture and eat more feed than factory birds. This costs more to do the right way.
Our deli ham is raised using only transition or organic feed and never any soy. The organic deli ham you find in the store isn’t raised on pasture and yet it still costs 50% more than our deli ham.
Many of our meats cost about what you'd pay somewhere else but ours are higher quality.
How do I get my monthly package?
Q: How do I get my monthly package?
A: Your order will be delivered monthly to host homes or shops. You can find the nearest host location on this map, and you can pick up your package there.
Or, you can pick it up directly from our farm or a retail partner. We have over 50 different sites across the metro. Most of our subscribers drive less than 5-10 minutes for their packages.
There is also a video that shows how our pickups work.
Most pickup sites have a window of time where you can pickup your package, they are stored in coolers and stay frozen well past the recommended pickup window if you are running late that day.
If you are unable to pickup on the regularly scheduled day and a neighbor can't stop by for you, we've always been able to make alternative arrangements that work well.
If you'd like to be a host home, talk to friends and neighbors in your area. If you get a few to sign up, you'll have the convenience of delivery to your doorstep. Let us know if you're interested in this option.
What About Buying in Bulk?
No Low End Cuts = Better Value
We started off selling bulk purchases like most farms, but we found that most people don't like every cut that comes with an eighth or quarter cow. Those bulk packages appeared cheaper, but they also included a huge percentage of liver, oxtail, bones and fat that were usually wasted, or worse tough dry cuts like rump or round roasts that result in a disappointing meal.
There are good reasons why these cuts aren't sold in grocery stores; why should you be forced to buy them just because you're doing the right thing buying direct from a farmer?
The amazing thing is that when we ran the numbers, it turned that out buying in bulk like this was actually more expensive for our members.
First, most processors can't offer organic spices, so let's say you splurge and buy some nice organic-fed pork. Why would you want all the bacon, ham and sausages full of conventional chemicals?
All our sausages are organic spiced, no-synthetic nitrates, binders or other questionable ingredients.
When buying in bulk, you'll usually only only get one or two kinds of sausages which means a freezer full of the same things instead of the wide variety our group is able to provide.
The other downside of buying in bulk is that unless you’re buying meat to a factory specification, there will always be some natural variation in flavor. Pasture-raised meats are hands down the best… but you could get ten people to all taste the same steak and get ten different opinions about it. And you can have ten steers raised exactly the same way and have ten differently flavored steaks. If you get a freezer full of meat and the animal you randomly received isn’t all that tasty, that’s quite a bummer. Getting small packages year round ensures you’ll get to try all of the natural variations in flavor and provide feedback so we know just what your family prefers.
Bottom line: if you’re comparing the same quality of product, buying in bulk won’t cost less for most families and our members seemed to be happier with our subscription program, that’s why we stopped offering the option a few years ago.
Do you sell live animals?
We do not
What Type of Packaging?
We use different packaging strategies based on the type of food being wrapped. Everything is packaged to maximize the quality of the meat when frozen.
For smoked meats like brats, sausages and bacon, we usually vacuum seal. The same is true for our ready to eat organic meals.
For cuts that don't work as well vacuum sealed, we often use a heat shrink style wrap that is PVC, BPA and phthalate free This is really nice because it allows individual steaks or chops to be thawed at one time.
I've personally tried meats that were 2-3 years old as a test and could tell the difference in the age, but only slightly... The packaging we use does a great job keeping the meat fresh when you decide to cook it up.
We are pretty picky about the health impacts of our packaging. The food industry too often uses plastics that are made of toxic PVC and phthalates which are fat soluble and leach into the food. We specifically researched the polymers used in our plastics and consulted with industry experts to ensure we're using the safest materials.
To learn more about what is used to wrap other meats, the health impacts this causes and how it helps them sell 'fresh' meat that is 4-6 months old... check out this article we wrote.
What do your animals eat in winter?
The omnivores on our farm (pigs and chickens mostly) need to eat some grains all year round. So they always have access to the same grains. We mostly use small grains like wheat, barley, peas, oats and such. All the grains are non-GMO and raised to the organic standard.
The cows and sheep are 100% grass fed. Since there isn't any green growing grass in the winter, we give them hay to eat. There are different qualities of hay. The better hay is more leaf and less stem. If it is pretty much 100% thick stem, that is straw. Straw has almost zero nutritional value and is used more as a bedding in the winter. We manage the type of hay the animals get based on the type of animal, time of year and growth period they are in (pregnant/nursing cows need higher quality hay than a 1 year old steer)
In the winter, the pigs and chickens also get free choice access to hay to get some green in their diet. They both love it! The hay isn't as good as green grass, but it is the best we can do in the winter.
In fact, you'll notice a huge difference in the quality of our eggs over the summer when the hens have access to green growing pasture instead of dried hay. These eggs are more nutritious and the same is true for the meat raised on green pasture.
Pork raised on green pasture has much more vitamin A and iron as an example.
This is why we only raise chickens in the summer, whereas a lot of local farms have their 'pasture raised' chicken or pigs spend their entire time in a hoop barn without access to a green pasture in the summer.