1800 Maynardville Hwy • 992-3443
If you are concerned about the quality and safety of the meat you eat, try buying locally grown, all-natural, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat.
When local writer and organic farmer Jack Rentfro told me about Crawford Farm Meats and proposed a road trip, I jumped on the opportunity to check it out and to ramble around Union County with Jack riding shotgun.
Owners Glenn and Terri Crawford moved from Florida a few years ago to keep the family's custom meat-processing business going when Glenn's father Jud, who worked for Lay's Packing Company for many years, became ill. That initial soon expanded in scope. In addition to the meat processing operation, there is a retail store and gift shop and a small café. Jud Crawford passed away before the building was completed, but according to Glenn, "he got to see what it was going to look like."
Glenn and Terri were helping customers when we arrived, so I investigated the products on the shelves and in the cases while Jack, whose navigational duties were temporarily suspended, settled down in the café with a pork barbecue sandwich, baked beans, and potato salad.
The variety is impressive: basic grocery items plus just about every piece and cut of beef and pork imaginable. Road Kill Raccoon Rub and BBQ Sauce sit alongside homemade jelly, jam, and salsa. Soy candles, lye soap, and goat's milk candles and soaps are stacked on shelves in a corner. Terri also creates gift baskets. But meat is the centerpiece of the operation. From the cooler where whole hogs and quarters of beef hang to cure to the processing room where meat is vacuum-sealed for freshness to the glass cases out front, Crawford Farm Meats is all about good meat.
Glenn guarantees the quality of his products. "I've been to their farms. I see what they feed them," he says. "They feed them corn, corn gluten, and spring water. And that's it." Everything is USDA inspected and all-natural—though not organic. Glenn, who says organic "has to do with what they're fed," says the meat at Crawford is as close to organic as you can get. He also says, "I prefer all-natural to organic. Organic has more of a wild taste. I like the sweeter taste of the all-natural."
Crawford does everything except slaughter the cattle and hogs. If you raise your own or buy from a farmer, Crawford will pick it up from the slaughter house and prepare, process, and pack the meat on their premises. Or you can simply buy from Crawford in large or small amounts.
There are a couple of Value Packs ($99 for the Deluxe and $199 for the Mega) that include items such as steaks, ground beef and ground beef patties, sausage, roasts, pork chops, all-meat bologna, smoked bacon, and sausage along with things such as chicken, all-meat wieners, French fries, rolls, and sliced cheese, depending on which package you order. For serious meat lovers with capacious freezers, there's the Super Saver ($399) which includes nine chuck roasts, nine shoulder roasts, 22 rib-eye steaks, eight packages of lean stew beef, and eight packages of ground chuck.
Crawford also caters to those wanting small amounts. Terri told of a customer who takes home a slice of bologna and a slice of cheese. They wrapped up four slices of hickory-smoked bacon for me, and when I expressed doubt that I needed 12 tamales, they split a package of those for me—though it turns out Jack was right: I should've taken the whole bag.
I had hoped to taste Jack's lunch, but he had cleaned his plate before I wandered back over. However, I arrived in time to watch him eat his first piece of souse. Jack's review: "Savory with a nice al dente quality. It went down easy—robust, peppery." I'll probably stick with less exotic products, but I'm glad there's a place I can get souse and pork neck bones if I need them. m