Recap from the Meat Producers Panel – Feb 6th FAC meeting

Recap from the Meat Producers Panel – Feb 6th FAC meeting

By Tamara Movold

It’s my first meeting since getting the student position with the Coalition and I’ve been invited to their monthly meeting.  I come in the room to the sound of Len Parkin just getting in to the Creston Valley Food Action Coalition business. Long name; we can abbreviate that. CVFAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing venues for local food producers to sell their goods in Creston. You might recognize their popular venture- The Creston Valley Farmers’ Market. Providing local food is just one of their goals, however.  If we want to get into the philosophy behind that it might take a little longer. Here, this might draw a more complete picture:

Tonight’s panel is a handful of meat and poultry industry folk here to speak about raising their animals, processing and selling them. Len sits down, readying his list of questions for the panel after making quick introductions.The first question is read off and the conversation evolves from there. What I’m struck by first, as a vegetarian, is referring to raising cattle as “growing beef”. Clearly I’m around people of a different mindset here.  They have different lingo, a range of farm vocabulary completely foreign to me…what is an abattoir? Oh. Ew.

As unfamiliar as their talk is I’m soon intrigued by the explanation of the difference between grass-finished and grain-fed beef, laying hens versus meat hens.  What is interesting to me is the contrasting dynamic between Tom Tarzwell and the McNamars in their practices. Tarzwell Farms beef is grain fed, the McNamars use grass and hay. Kootenay Natural Meats do not inoculate unless a cow is sick, Mr. Tarzwell has all his cattle inoculated. The differences go on.

In listening to them back and forth between their philosophies and raising methods, one similarity becomes abundantly clear- they both nurture their cattle as best they can.  The dialogue wends its way to the challenges the growers face in selling their products, shipping costs and logistics of marketing.  I’m shocked when I hear that to most of these farmers the Farmers’ Market to them is basically just a publicity show. The return almost doesn’t justify the time spent.

Tom Klaus talks a bit about his practices in butchering and preparing all his meats on the store premises and I have to admit, I haven’t had dinner and it’s all kinda sounding good to me right about now. Oh, right, I’m a vegetarian, shucks.

The questions came from the audience in rapid succession, I’d be hard pressed to have enough room to address them all here. We ran out of time before we ran out of questions and I had learned a surprising amount in just over an hour’s time.

 Overall, I left the meeting with a deep sense of appreciation for these people and what they do in the valley.  It also renewed for me the feeling of connectivity to food, myself and my community and how supporting these people is not a one way gravel street. We buy products from them, they in turn buy services and goods from the Valley, reinforcing a beautiful symbiotic relationship.


Dale and Wendy Mcnamar of Kootenay Natural Meats-

Tom Tarzell  of Tarzwell Farms- 250-428-4316

Tom Klaus, Famous Fritz-

Randy Meyer at R&S Meyer Farms-250-428-7013


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