Frequently Asked Questions
TC Farm is a group of sustainable family farms dedicated to raising the very best food.
Our animals are raised out on real pasture and rotationally grazed. Our produce is always organic.
We've put together this page for with questions new members and other people ask.
How Do I Get My Food?
What is TC Farm's Home Delivery Area?
Do You Ship Your Food?
Will it Fit in my Freezer?
What Type of Packaging Do You Use?
If I want to Change an Order, How Far in Advance Can I Make Changes?
Can I Skip a Delivery?
What if I have Food Sensitivities?
What About Corn and Soy?
What About Sugar?
Do I Need to Refrigerate TC Farm Eggs?
What About Buying in Bulk?
Does it Cost More?
What are Your Prices?
What is Your Cancellation Policy?
Do You Sell Live Animals?
What Do Your Animals Eat in Winter?
Q: The freezer in my refrigerator has a small freezer. Will I have enough room to store a subscription?
Longer answer: Our typical packages are 5 pounds or less. Most of them are made up of individually wrapped items that are a pound or so and will easily fit into a standard freezer.
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, all packages should fit easily into a normal freezer. It begins to get a little trickier for those spending $400 or $500 per month. But a typical monthly membership's worth of food will take up less than one cubic foot of freezer space
Still: if you are thinking about getting one, we recommend a small chest freezer for most customers. Most people find they are a good investment for having around and not just for our food. They can be as small as 2'x3' and cost $300.
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. Sometimes your fridge or freezer is just a little fuller than expected. Your account is only charged for the amount of food you receive.
You simply need to let us know you won't be getting your food before the deadline for making changes to that delivery. It takes exactly one click of a button to skip your next delivery!
Most of our members get orders of meats and eggs once a month with weekly deliveries of produce. But we are set up to be super flexible so you can get items on a schedule that fits your family best.
- Want us to recommended some of our meats once a month and also get weekly orders of our seasonal produce?
We can do that!
- Want to get a box of our amazing bacon and two loaves of our heritage wheat sourdough bread every month, plus our low carb veggie box every other week and our fruit box on alternating weeks?
We can do that too!
Every delivery, a few days before the change deadline, you'll get a reminder about what's coming.
You can always swap out what we have planned so you get exactly what you want.
For our variety boxes, 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. You'd want to get a box of just tenderloins. We can't swap out individual items from variety packs.
- For people getting home deliveries, the deadline for making changes is a few days before your delivery.
- For people getting a one-day-a-month neighborhood pickup, the deadline for making changes is the last day of the month.
Members sometimes 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, we make it really easy to skip a delivery or start getting smaller recommendations each delivery. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time (hello, snowbirds! We see you!) you can also pause your membership for months at a time.
For members who joined on our traditional subscription plan: 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.
Members who have joined with our newer TC Farm Annual Membership program can cancel any time.
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
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.
In the past, 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. We have found 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.
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.
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.
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.
Q: How do I get my food?
A: Most of our members get their food delivered directly to their home. Your food comes in insulated reusable containers which we pick up (and swap out) with your next delivery.
Some of our members get neighborhood pickups. We deliver our food to around 50 neighborhood pickup sites one day each month. Nearly all of these pickup sites are other members' homes. You can learn more about monthly neighborhood pickups here.
If you are outside our delivery area, we can still ship your food to you, as long as you live in Minnesota (or within a state or two)!
We ship our food once a month (around the second or third week of the month).
We aren't able to ship eggs or produce. Sorry!
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.
We do not
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.
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.