Sunday, May 04, 2014

Livengoods Return to City Market

Joyce Livengood with lilacs at Reading Terminal Market in 20089
Livengood Family Farm, which for years sold organic produce at center court in Reading Terminal Market on Saturdays until 2009, abandoned city markets entirely last year. But this past winter son Dwain Livengood brought back the stall to the Saturday market on Clark Park.

The Food Trust, which operates Clark Park, has asked the Livengoods to limit its produce offerings at Clark Park and instead concentrate on meat. That suits Dwain just fine, since he's been concentrating on raising beef cattle, hogs, chicken and now lamb around the bend from dad Earl's and mom Joyce's vegetable farm just outside Lancaster's city limits.

Lamb is the newest addition to Dwain's production, which he started about 10 years ago with some beef cattle. The lamb, pasture-born and raised, is fed exclusively on grass. That's possible because the Dorper breed Dwain is raising (a South African originated cross of Dorset Horn and Blackhead Persian sheep) grows meaty on just grass, even in winter. And since it's a "hair" sheep variety, it doesn't require as much labor-intensive shearing as "wool" sheep do.

Dwain's current lamb offerings are currently limited to ground meat, shanks, necks, bones, kidney and head. But he also slaughtered a three-year-old ewe which has produced a bonanza of mutton cubes. Mutton is usually very strong in flavor, too much so for most American tastes. But Dwain said that this animal is rather mild in flavor. I bought a pack of rather lean-looking cubes (the strongest flavor is in the fat, which Dwain also sells) and plan to braise it as a curry tonight.

The young rancher soon will purchase some piglets to restock his pork offerings. But he warns prices will be higher this year because of a viral epidemic that started in the U.S. last year, causing millions of piglet deaths. The disease causes no threat to human health or food safety, but it is already increasing prices.  With beef prices already in the stratosphere because of drought and poor feed crops, chicken looks to be the least expensive of America's favorite animal proteins.

His lamb prices yesterday ranged from $9-$14/pound, depending on cut; the mutton fat is about $2.50.

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