We are fortunate to live in a location with access to multiple local sources of grassfed/grass-finished beef, pastured pork, pasture-raised chickens/eggs, Whole Foods, Co-ops, and multiple farmer’s markets. We also are getting up to snuff on our own little farming venture with an established apple/plum/peach orchard, about a 1/4 acre vegetable garden, 2-dozen chickens, and a couple of bee hives.
However, even with all of these resources at our disposal, we do have a couple of annual family trips we like to take to destinations without access to similar resources. For the past few years the lead-up to these vacations required us to spend many late nights (after work) making and freezing breakfast sausage and sugar-free bacon, drying fruits, soaking/dehydrating nuts and seeds, and preparing batches of yogurt and stock(though we backed off on the last two items in our more recent trips). This summer we intended to be away for two full weeks, so we did an experiment by ordering ahead from US Wellness Meats. We have heard many good reviews on the various blogs we monitor, but the cost we cannot justify on a regular basis. We wanted to manage breakfast meats for our family of five, plus we wanted to try their versions of our usual beef-jerky snacks. Below is a summary of our thoughts/experiences:
- ORDERING: the website is very well presented and easily navigable. The food items are well-labelled so from a GAPS perspective is was easy to determine what we could have (we do not consume anything with added sweeteners other than honey).. Fortunately the site has recently added many sugarfree items (which begs the question, why does commercially-available sausage have gluten and sugar?) Also, $25 discount for each 40 pound increment totaling 40 pounds of total product.
- SHIPPING: the order confirmation stated that the package should arrive on Wednesday with instructions to be left at the door if no one answered. We had been to the boardwalk that morning and sure enough the package was at the door, unblemished in any way. We rushed inside and found that inside the cardboard box was a 2″ thick styrofoam cooler with frozen meat inside! Hooray! Items were clearly labelled and none of the packaging looked mishandled (sometimes when we get stuff from the local farms the packaging has been pierced after rough handling).
- Sugar-Free Pork Bacon and Bacon Ends Buying in bulk, we were able to get a 10% discount on the bacon. I have been making my own bacon since we started GAPS, so I was a bit skeptical. However we were thrilled with the quality of the bacon. Not too smokey, and it cooked up beautifully in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. My only complaint about the bacon was that some of the packages were not packed neatly, so separating the pieces without shredding them was difficult in those packages.
- Beef Snack Sticks aside form the bacon, these were the biggest hit in our order. Our kids loved these and on a daytrip they filled in as the lunch entree
- Beef Pemmican Our son is not typically a picky eater. Snacks that other kids cringe at, he loves (Sea Snax, Venison Jerky, Sauerkraut – he loves them all). However, this pemmican was one thing he absolutely hated and spat out. In my mind, I picture Pemmican as a dried meat product similiar in consistency to beef jerky. But this stuff was a plastic tube filled with what appeared to be loose pate. In short, it looked nasty and my son said he would not eat any more. This was one of our few disappointments….and we still aren’t sure what to do with the remaining pemmican…possible they will become chicken food.
- Beef Breakfast Sausage Sliders since I have mastered charcuterie, my kids have become accustomed to our home made pork sausages. The Beef sausage sliders were very convenient to cook up and I thought they were very good. However the family found them to be too gamey tasting for morning breakfast. Also they do not yield as much “grease” as our usual sausage, so the family thought they were a bit dry. We also tried the Polish version of these which I really liked, but they were too garlicky for the rest of my family- though there is no garlic in them 🙂
- Pork Breakfast Sausage We bought a few rolls of bulk pork sausage. I thought these tasted similar to my homemade version, though the kids paid me a huge compliment and said these were nowhere near as good as mine! I ended up making some meatballs using a couple of packages of breakfast sausage combined them in a 1:2 ratio with grassfed ground beef . They were a big hit- even with my in-laws who are devout standard-American dieters.
I will say we were pleased with the US Wellness products and will consider them again if we travel for longer than a week. The cost (with shipping factored in) is probably double what we pay for locally sourced items. But if you do not have local sources, or if you are travelling and want to have some things delivered, I can safely recommend US Wellness Meats.
DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation whatsoever with US Wellness Meats but will gladly accept any consideration (discounts, samples) they might provide me <LOL>