The farmers markets in Tahoe City and Truckee may have ended last month, and winter CSAs may not be your thing, but that doesn’t mean your options for fresh, local food are over. Two groups still make deliveries to the area. One business brings meat raised on small family farms to Truckee once a month, and the other is a small company that drives up some of the freshest fish you can find anywhere on the market to both Tahoe City and Truckee every week.

Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club

Roger Ingram, the livestock and natural resources farm advisor in Placer and Nevada counties, started the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club in 2009 to help keep local land in agriculture and allow ranching families to create profitable businesses. The club, which has no membership fees and no minimum order requirements, delivers beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, and honey for pick-up in Truckee, Auburn, and Granite Bay. The club meets its customers in Truckee on the third Thursday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Community Ink on Donner Pass Road. Customers must place their order by the second Friday of the month.

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This summer, Ingram transferred management of the club to one of its three producers: Karin Sinclair of Sinclair Family Farm in Penryn. The other ranchers are High Sierra Beef in Yuba County and Fowler Family Farm in Penn Valley — all small, family-owned operations.

‘We try to promote family farms and the natural way of growing,’ Sinclair said. ‘We try to promote pasture-raised. We don’t use any chemicals and only natural fertilizer.’

Sinclair said the club is a good way for customers to meet their farmers, and vice versa. It’s also a way for small ranchers to market themselves. Customers can even do tastings.

‘It makes a connection with people purchasing the product and the farmers,’ she said. ‘We are also promoting smaller producers. Some don’t have the time to do their own promotion.’

Sinclair said the club hopes to expand the number of participating farms (it had six at one point), and wants to eventually offer goat and turkey. Currently, the club has around 10 customers at each location.

~ To place an order from the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club, go to sinclairfamilyfarm.net or ucanr.org/sites/roger_livestock/meat_buyers_club.

The Little Fish Company

Brand Little had only fished in lakes when he bought a commercial fishing boat in 2005. Then the director of operations for the Associated Press (AP), Little decided to try his hand at ocean fishing in the rugged waters of Bodega Bay and the Northern California coast. He started selling his fish at the Auburn farmers markets, and the business took off, expanding to eight area markets. In 2006 he left AP to become a full-time fisherman.

Little, who lives in Grass Valley, bases his fishing boat out of San Francisco. He fishes as far south as Monterey and as far north as Fort Bragg. He catches salmon, halibut, rock cod, lingcod, black cod, tuna, crab, snapper, and petrale sole, as well as flying in freshly caught fish from Hawaii, Alaska, and Mexico (sashimi-grade ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, ono, and Alaskan salmon and halibut). In the summer Little fishes every week for four to five days at a time. This year, for the first time, he will be fishing during the winter.

Most of Little’s fish go from ocean to consumer in 48 hours, with imported fish taking 72 hours. According to Little, that is unheard of in the fishing industry, where fresh fish has a shelf life of 10 to 12 days.

‘The best fish you can buy anywhere but from me was caught seven days ago,’ he said. ‘Three days old is crazy; you can’t get that anywhere.’

At one point, Little opened a seafood store in Granite Bay. After three days, he shut it down. Accustomed to going home empty after farmers markets, he didn’t like the idea of carrying inventory and not being able to offer the freshest fish available.

‘If we can’t have empty shelves then we’re no better than anybody else,’ he said. ‘I said to my wife, ‘We have a great thing with the farmers markets. We’re going to ruin our reputation.’’

Little is so devoted to providing fresh, wild-caught fish to his customers that he continues to sell fish in three areas where the farmers markets shut down in the winter: Tahoe City, Truckee, and Placerville.

‘There is such a big demand for it,’ he said. ‘People want fish in the winter.’

The Little Fish Company delivers to our area on Fridays at Commons Beach in Tahoe City from 12 to 1 p.m. and the Pour House in Truckee from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Customers need to place their orders by Wednesday at midnight at Little Fish’s website. Between Tahoe City and Truckee, Little estimates that he has around 70 customers and usually sells 150 pounds of fish.

The salmon season just ended, but crab season starts Nov. 15.

‘The difference in our fish is that it starts off fresher and is sold immediately that day,’ Little said.

~ For more information about the Little Fish Company or to place an order, visit wildlittlefishco.com. Comment on this story below.

Author

  • Melissa Siig

    Melissa Siig ditched international politics in Washington, D.C. in 2001 to move to Tahoe, where she quickly found her true calling — journalism. She has written for regional and national publications, and enjoys writing about community issues and quirky human interest stories. When not at her keyboard, she is busy wrangling her three children, co-running Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema, or playing outside.

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