I’ll let you know off-list if/when I hear back. I think I’ve already gotten one response but I haven’t read it yet.
In the meantime, here are some other options for you, and/or anyone else looking for inexpensive meats and/or straight from the producer:
1)craigslist is a common place for both small-scale commercial and hobbyist producers to sell farm product, including meats. Just a quickie look through the Orange County listings, there was one company with multiple listings who didn’t provide a location, but had pretty good prices. Another posted their location as Fullerton , but I don’t know how far away that is. Several others posted there and again I don’t know how far away they were. Might take some filtering for your location, and/or wading through listings that don’t interest you, but that’s a good way to hook up with small-time livestock owners who just want to sell small quantities. Often at WAY below going rate.
2)You’ve got one of the largest Navy bases in the country, in your proverbial back yard. When I was a Navy wife way back when, and yea it was a number of years ago, the PX had some of the best grocery prices around. That may or may not be the case anymore. But if you can hook up with a Navy family and have them buy some meats for you whenever they’re there, perhaps you can do them a return favor of some kind. Navy didn’t really smile upon that practice back when I was shopping there, but I know it happened all the time anyway.
3)If you do find producers that you like, but whom are too far away, call them and ask them if they would consider a new delivery to your location, particularly if you could guarantee them a minimum order size. For instance, I have a set distance that I’ll go for small orders, but if several families get together and pool their orders, I’ll happily drive a lot further. Most of my producer friends have similar arrangements. Or, producer and buyer can pick some point mid-way between them, so that neither one has to drive the entire distance. But most producers are very eager to get more customers – if you could band together with your neighbors, your front porch could become a drop point.
4)And that leads me to one of the most exciting options around – either forming, or joining, a bulk-buy group in your area. They’re sprouting up all over metro areas around the country. They work via forums and other similar services. Simply a group of people, often scattered around (sometimes a wide area), who all want to band together to buy in bulk from regional sources. The groups I’m a member of, will have coordinators who organize the bulk buy, and then serve either as the dropoff point or sometimes will go get the product. Then everyone will rendezvous at the coordinator’s location to pick up their particular goodies. It’s a powerful idea and it’s proving to be a win/win for both consumers and producers. I’ve sold a lot of pork that way, to folks whom I never would have found otherwise (and they probably would never have found me). There’s the implied understanding for most of these groups that everyone wants to save some money, so most coordinators negotiate slightly lower prices with the producer, since the producer is essentially getting a bunch of new customers all at once. The Seattle/Tacoma area has a good half-dozen such groups, and we’re a fraction of the size of your metro area. I’m POSITIVE that there are similar groups in the SoCal area, and they may very well offer some of the best deals in the region for direct-from-producer products, at really good prices. But you’ll have to go find them.
Just keep in mind that a lot of producers are anxious for new customers, and they’ll work their fannies off to meet you half-way or otherwise make it possible to do business with you. Just a little elbow grease and sometimes a dab of creative thinking is all that is needed to bring buyer and seller together, in some kind of win/win arrangement. Keep us posted on whatever you come up with!