We have a fun and challenging event coming up on the farm this weekend, inviting a small group of chefs and foodies over to conduct some taste-testing on our farm’s products as compared to grocery store equivalents.
As scientists, we’ve always been interested in using experiments to get evidence for claims. This is certainly relevant to direct-market farming, as one of our justifications for this business is the higher-quality food we produce. It’s pretty easy to demonstrate that in-season, local, fresh product is better than the shipped-in equivalent, but what about when it’s preserved and used out of season? And what about products we can’t sell but want the right to, like our cheese? With this in mind, and with the kick in the pants from a fascinating recent article in The Atlantic, we set up this tasting luncheon on Sunday with the following menu:
Chert Hollow Farm
Tasting Meal Menu
Comparing quality of frozen edamame: Store-bought organic shelled or unshelled, and farm-frozen shelled or unshelled.
Comparing fresh-ground farm cornmeal with Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal. Served both plain and with homemade tomato sauce.
Comparing basic boiled eggs, both farm-fresh and Organic Valley.
Comparing flavor of each source in basic omelets with farm-dried tomatoes and Goatsbeard cheese.
Venison & Goat meat
Two comparisons of these meats, raised/hunted and butchered on-farm: slow-cooked medallions in a red wine marinade, and ground as mini-burgers on farm-baked bread.
Tasting four sources of cheddar:
– Ireland (via. World Harvest)
– Morningland Dairy (MO)
– Cabot Creamery (VT)
– Chert Hollow Farm (MO)
Tastings of store-bought okra pickles, farm-made okra pickles, and farm-made green bean pickles.
Comparing frozen organic green beans with frozen heirloom farm beans, topped with homemade Hollandaise sauce.
Comparing store-bought organic pinto beans with farm-raised mixed heirloom dried beans.
Roasted sweet potato fries, using store-bought vs. farm-stored.
Store-bought organic sun-dried tomatoes compared with farm-grown dehydrator-dried tomatoes; served as main topping on baked flatbreads.
Store-bought organic chamomile vs. farm-grown and dried chamomile.
We’re absolutely fascinated to see how this turns out. It will be a blind test, with each course labelled only by letters and guests given scorecards to record ratings and other notes. I have my expectations on how various items will be scored, but the whole point is that I’m hardly an unbiased source. We can’t wait to have reasonably fair raw data to look at, and report.
All the results will be live on the blog next week. Where our products rank higher, great. Where they’re indistinguishable, that’s good to know and customers can still feel better supporting a local farm. Where they rate lower, we need to work on improvement and/or alter our price & marketing claims.