local food

Food Connects Favorites: Big Picture Beef

Food Connects works with so many amazing producers, offering such a wide variety of great products, it is sometimes hard to pick out something new to try. So we are introducing Food Connects Favorites—a blog to highlight some of our staff’s favorite products.

Kate’s Favorite: Big Picture Beef

Grass-fed Ground Beef

Grilling season is finally here! And if you are a fan of juicy burgers and tender steaks, we have the perfect products for you. Big Picture Beef out of Hardwick, MA, provides us with locally raised, grass-fed beef from healthy, and happy animals.

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I love Big Picture Beef’s grass-fed ground beef because it’s both affordable and sustainably raised. The company, which sources grass-fed beef from small farms around the northeast, is committed to rotational grazing practices and animal wellbeing. The majority of this product currently comes from farms in Massachusetts, but cows are processed here is Vermont. Big Picture Beef seeks to expand market opportunities for northeast farms, while maintaining a commitment to ethical production. This is a product I can get behind and the flavor is great!

Because Big Picture Beef is a large-scale beef producer in the Northeast, our local schools are able to afford this product. For the most part, Big Picture Beef is able to maintain a bulk price of just under $5.00 per pound, which is an incredible opportunity for our schools. You can find this grass-fed beef in burgers, stews and sauces in the Bellows Falls and Chester schools.

I personally use this ground beef in chilis and pasta sauces throughout the winter. In the summer, it makes a great burger! Knowing that my beef is coming from a local farmer who cares about the health and happiness of their animals is a win in my book.

So, fire up that grill and try out Big Picture Beef’s meats today!

Producer Spotlight: Frisky Cow Gelato

Frisky Cow Gelato is one our new products at Food Connects (and something seems to get quickly consumed from our staff freezer). This locally-made, creamy, and delicious product will be sure to satisfy your sweet-tooth.

Owner and founder, Linda Rubin, spent nine years working at Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH (the last working dairy farm in Keene) and several more years serving on their board of Directors (1995-2011). She dreamed about ways to make the farm's dairy more profitable, therefore contributing to the long term sustainability of the educational non-profit. When her son, Zach got married at Stonewall Farm in September 2017 she began thinking about the dairy operation again.

"It's not easy to be a small non-profit with a dairy farm on it—dairy farms are closing all over the country. I was really inspired to do my small part," said Linda Rubin. “The farm had a creamery that was not being used so I pitched the idea of starting Frisky Cow Gelato—leasing the creamery, purchasing organic milk, and donating a portion of the revenue from the business to Stonewall Farm.”

Linda had her first taste of gelato in Florence, Italy when as a high school chemistry teacher she chaperoned 60 students on a summer trip throughout Europe. “I remember people waiting at gelaterias (shops that serve gelato) for an hour or more each night to be served. I never forgot that taste!” Not only did she gain a love for gelato while in Italy, but she also studied the art of gelato-making at the Italian Carpigiani University in Chicago.

Frisky Cow Gelato is great tasting, high quality, artisan gelato made right in our own back yard. Made with 100% organic milk, it is also gluten-free, and made in small batches from scratch with no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. It is a low overrun frozen treat that is full of rich, fresh flavor, and made with local ingredients whenever possible. She also purchases maple cream from Ben's Sugar Shack in Temple, NH, coffee from Prime Roast in Keene, NH, blueberries from Monadnock Berries in Troy, NH, and strawberries from Stonewall Farm. 

“I think its important, especially in a rural part of the country, for people to invest in their communities, to support the farms, restaurants, shops, and salons that bring color to our neighborhoods and strengthen our local economy,” said Linda. “I see being a part of the local food movement as a way to provide local jobs, work with local farmers and specialty food producers, and contribute to the state's tax base. The local food movement is also important because it begins to address critical issues relating to food insecurity, open space, climate change, energy consumption, and our agricultural heritage.”

And what about that name? “I gave my gelato the name, Frisky Cow, because I wanted it to be a very accessible and fun treat—not something you would only eat in Italy.” And boy, are we glad we can get this tasty treat right here!

Want a taste of this great gelato? Frisky Cow Gelato will be at the Keene Farmers’ Market beginning in May, the Food Truck Roundup Thursday nights in June and July at the Retreat Farm in Brattleboro, the Strolling of the Heifers event in Brattleboro on Saturday, June 8th, and a celebration of National Ice Cream Day at Stonewall Farm on July 20th .