Santa Fe Farms Chicken

We are very happy to introduce Santa Fe Farms to the Blooms product line. This is Trinidad’s very first truly ‘all natural’ local chicken, reared without the use of antibiotics, hormones, vaccines or chemicals.

Earlier this year, we reached out to the public in search of a farmer who could help us produce a local and all-natural chicken. Blooms sells a plethora of antibiotic-free and hormone-free chicken, but until now it was all imported from the USA. Our interest was in working with a farm that could produce a similar product here in Trinidad, using the same guidelines followed by those all-natural farms in the USA. This would not only help us offer a fresh product, but it would help promote the Trinidadian economy and put a small dent in our ever growing food import bill.

The response from our Youtube Video and subsequent Guardian Newspaper Article was incredible. Dozens and dozens of emails and phone calls poured in from all around Trinidad and Tobago, and people from all walks of life called with their support and/or interested in helping. We visited several farms and had numerous meetings with perspective farmers.

One of the farmers who contacted us revealed to have exactly what we were searching for. His farm was beyond exciting and required very little changes to achieve the product we were looking to produce. Many of the practices he uses were developed over years of trial and error, in hopes of accomplishing an all-natural product. In the chicken business, the faster and the cheaper way to do things is not always considered the best when your goal is to produce the healthiest birds.

IMG_1852

Why is Santa Fe Farms chicken different and why is it better? Well, the two primary answers to that question is FEED and ENVIRONMENT.

ENVIRONMENT

The environment a chicken lives in has a significant influence on the life the chicken leads and the natural health of the bird. The same could be said for most animals, humans included. Unfortunately, the better environment given to the chickens by a farmer almost always has a negative correlation with the profit of a farm. The goal with most chicken farms is to get as many conceivable chickens out of the smallest space possible, creating an increased amount of bacteria in the air that the chickens are breathing and on the ground on which they are standing. It also means they get less exercise.  This is not ‘natural’ and simply results in more illness, which then needs to be treated. This is done with medicines in the water and in the feed (more on that below).

Chicken houses are constructed to help maximize space and for complete environmental control to take place. It also allows for chickens to be exposed to light for more hours of the day, increasing the amount they eat. The faster chickens eat, the faster they achieve slaughter weight and the sooner more chicks can be brought in to complete the cycle.

When a batch of chickens leaves one these industrial pens, the ground is left with a thick layer of chicken waste that is now a hotbed for bacteria, which often makes the birds sick. This requires medicine to treat. If the waste were to be treated properly, the bacteria level in the ground would return to levels that would be naturally manageable for most birds. But again, for the sake of time and efficiency, it often is not treated correctly. A new batch arrives soon after and the process begins again.

So, how do we change that? The first step is to remove ‘maximize output’ as the priority. The focus should be on the overall health of the bird. This is done by giving the chickens more space to live, instead of trying to get as many birds into a pen as possible. Think of it as if you ate and slept at night with 40 strangers; you’d probably need to go to the doctor quite a bit more as well. When chickens have more space, they exercise and move more. Giving the chickens things like sunlight, open-air flow and clean water also strengthens the chickens’ health. Basically, anything that is just a physiological necessity to any living organism.

The floor that the chickens live (and defecate on) is also cared for very carefully. Rotation, resting and even burning by fire takes place in a specific schedule to help reduce the bacteria levels. This allows chickens to be exposed to a natural amount of bacteria to build their own immune systems. Instead of being shocked by their environment and needing medicine to survive.

FEED:

Did you know that every commercial produced chicken feed in Trinidad contains antibiotics? Anything from starter feed, finisher to scratch, contains a vitamin pack that classifies the feed as ‘medicated’. Commercial feed mills include this pack because it prevents diseases such as coccidiosis in the birds. These bacterial diseases are prevalent wherever chickens are raised and much crueler under harsh conditions (please reference ENVIRONMENT above). In addition, there are several other elements added to the feed to help it maintain a longer shelf life. Companies usually do not wish for feed to spoil in storage, and the feed is often engineered to prevent mold/mildew. These antibiotics and shelf-extenders are par for the course with any commercially produced feed. Are they bad? Not necessarily. So, when buying a chicken from a local farmer, make sure you ask the farmer where they get their chicken feed. If they buy it Trinidad, there is a good chance that it contains antibiotics and it should not be sold as antibiotic free, organic, or all natural. .

The same goes for chickens (or eggs) that are sold as ‘Free Range’. The definition of ‘Free Range/Free Roaming’, according to the USDA, is the ability of the chicken to access outside. In Trinidad, it commonly means chickens that are roaming around the yard instead of in a pen. This, unfortunately, speaks nothing to the chicken’s diet and what it’s being fed. While chickens with access to more space and room live much healthier lives, many are given normal mill ‘feed’. It’s uncommon that chickens can find enough ‘bugs’ in the yard to fulfill their appetite and grow to slaughter weight. So, just because a bird is ‘Free Range’, it may not be antibiotic free or necessarily ‘healthier’ than a non-free range bird. As you see, we feel it’s very important to make sure everyone is very clear on what they are buying.

Currently, the only way to get non-medicated feed in Trinidad is to either import it or mill it yourself. Imported organic feed from abroad is very costly (mainly because of duties/vat and shipping) and comes with a limited shelf life. The chickens at Santa Fe Farms are given feed that has been custom milled fresh weekly, right here in Trinidad. Milling is defined by simply taking whole grains and kernels and grinding them into a mix that the chickens can eat.

The feed that the chickens at Santa Fe Farms are given every day contains: Corn Meal, Soy Bean Meal, Wheat Middling

That’s it. It’s milled and mixed fresh, which means it doesn’t need to sit on a shelf or in a barn for 3 months.

Note: A lot of people have asked if this chicken is ‘organic’. Technically, in order for something to be labeled ‘organic’ according to USDA standards, the feed given to the chickens must be milled from non-GMO corn/soy/etc. It’s currently not feasible for us to source non-GMO raw materials here in Trinidad. For customers that require the feed that the chickens eat to be non-GMO, we carry a fully organic chicken out of the US that achieves that.

Because of what the chickens are feed and the environment they are raised in, Santa Fe Farms will most likely not be able to supply all of Trinidad’s chicken. It’s not a product for the masses, and by it’s nature, probably never can/will be. We are limited in how many chickens we can produce with this format.

And yes, it does cost a little more than it’s imported or local chicken counterparts, with the reasons for that explained above. This is not going to be a chicken for everyone, as some customers prefer the cheapest chicken/meat they can find. We understand that every household is different. We do think, however, that most people will find the quality and healthiness of the product far surpass the margin increase in price.

From the onset, this project has taken quite a while to reach the point we are at today. The ability for us to supplement at least some of our current demand for an all-natural chicken has been an outstanding accomplishment for us. As this project grows, we should hopefully see more supply and more customers able to enjoy.

On the Santa Fe Farms website www.SantaFeFarmsTT.com, you can view information on the product and also what outlets are currently carrying Santa Fe Farms chicken.

We’ve been ‘bacon’ busy

Bacon

Over the course of a few years, we’ve toyed around with making bacon from scratch. Bacon is created by curing (salting) pork, particularly pork belly. Pork belly is an amazing cut of pork that beautifully marries tender meat with very edible fat.

For anyone that has ever had ‘homemade’ or fresh bacon, you know it is ‘chalk and cheese’ to the store bought variety.

Commercially produced bacon has a series of additives used to turn the belly into bacon much faster. These are done to shorten the cure time and to do a lot of product at a time. Time = money, right? Without these added elements and preservatives, your bellies must remain in the cure for much longer. Normally, using these techniques bacon can be cured by one of the large manufacturers in less than a day. We let our pork bellies cure for over 10 days before smoking them! It is a labor of love.

In the creation of commercial bacon, the process rarely contains actual burning of wood to create a smoke flavor. Instead, for the sake of time/cost, liquid smoke flavor is added to give the pork that ‘hickory flavor’ associated with bacon. Our bacon is actually smoked using hickory wood to give it it’s smoke flavor. This is done after curing. We hot smoke our bacon to kill any pathogens that may be present. This also helps in reducing the amount of ingredients that must be used.

Ever noticed how most of the time when you cook a slice of bacon it starts out at one size and by the time you are finished, it ends up 1/3 of the size? Not with Blooms Bacon.We use less ingredients and cure naturally instead of mechanically pumping the product to rush the product. This means when you buy bacon, you are paying for bacon instead of ‘ingredients’ that will drain out when cooked.

And to top it all off, we cut our bacon THICK, the way it should be. We feel you should not be able to see through a piece of bacon!

Our first batch is ready this weekend. We’ve manage to keep the price just around the price-per-pound of your normal grocery store bacon. The packs of ‘premium’ commercial bacon are usually sold in 200g or 250g package, which can be a little misleading. That is less than 1/2 a pound for around $30TT a pack ($60TT per pound). Our bacon is right in line with your normal store bought would cost ($40TT a pound for this first batch). All else being equal, we think you will be presently surprised!

 

 

 

San Fernando, we are heading back your way!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit www.bloomsimports.com and place your order by Monday, July 13th.
  2. A Bloom’s representative will call you when your order is pulled, totalled and to organize a time/location (We just ask that your order exceeds the $800.00TTD free delivery minimum)
  3. Provide us with the address of where you would like your goods delivered.
  4. On July 15th, we will deliver your order to your home, office or a meeting place in San Fernando.
  5. Pay when your goods arrive (not online). We accept Linx, Credit Card or Cash.

Spaces on the truck for this date will be limited, so please book early to secure a delivery slot. We are hoping to expand to more dates and lower the minimums if this service is well received. So, please pass this along to any friends/family in San Fernando that may be interested. The demand from other’s in your area has been incredible!

Can’t make this delivery date? No problem, like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our next delivery day to your area. Or, even better, sign up for our mailing list:

Click here to sign up for our mailing list

 

Do you know a kitchen that can supply us with cooked meats?

We have cooked food products we currently import to supply restaurants and hotels. We would like to look into have them produced in Trinidad. These are in lareger quantities, so a commercial kitchen would be required. Things like cooked meats, wings, sausages, pastries, etc.

Do you know of a PRE-EXISTING company that might be able to help? If so, send us an email. If things work out and we end up purchasing from your supplier, we will give you a $500TT finders fee! Cash.

sales@bloomsimports.com

Please give us as much information about the company as possible.

chicken breast grilled chicken tenders

San Fernando, we are heading your way!

If you live or work in San Fernando, we invite you to take part in our very first “San Fernando Home Delivery” run. Order your items online and we will deliver right to your door!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit www.bloomsimports.com and place your order by Sunday, May 3rd.
  2. Make sure your order exceeds the $1,000TTD free delivery minimum.
  3. A Bloom’s representative will call you when your order is totalled and to organize a time/location.
  4. On May 6th, we will deliver your order to a your home, office or a meeting place in San Fernando.
  5. Pay when you arrive with your Linx, Credit or Cash.

Spaces on the truck for this date will be limited, so please book early to secure a delivery slot. We are hoping to expand to more dates and lower the minimums if this service is well received. So, please pass this along to any friends/family in San Fernando that may be interested. (If you are not in San Fernando, but would like us to set up a delivery day, please let us know)

What goes up, must come down!

Anyone who buys shrimp regularly knows that the price has been crazy expensive over the past 18 months. It seemed like every day the price of shrimp was going up. At Blooms, we hate to increase our prices, especially on popular items. But, our margins are low, so we don’t have the wiggle-room to absorb increases in commodity prices. We, however, are firm believers that if you go UP with the market, you should come DOWN with the market too. All too often we see suppliers and our competitors quick to go UP, but not so quick to come down when their costs decrease. It’s a double-edged sword and we have to be fair. So, this is just a friendly FYI to let everyone know that we just cut our EZ-Peel Shrimp prices by $20TT a bag…across the board. If we continue to get better shrimp prices, we will pass that along too. Not a special, not a promotion, just lower prices.

shrimp pricing

Local All-Natural Chicken!

Blooms is working on a new project that will help promote the local production of food to help us rely a little less on imported products. In addition, we are hoping to provide a BETTER product at a lower price, by avoiding the high import duties. We are looking for farmers (large or small) in Trinidad that are interested in raising all-natural chickens for us. If you are someone (or know someone) that may be able to help, please watch. Farming partners will be asked to abide by a series of guidelines for the production of this chicken and those guidelines will be verified on a regular basis. We will be able to advise the farmer in the setup of their farm and possibly make ourselves available to assist financially. In exchange, Blooms will provide a guaranteed purchase order for your chickens on a weekly basis. We are the market for the chickens, we are just looking for the supply.

There is so much chatter in the news today about developing and diversifying the Trinidad economy away from oil. We also all know that we need to rely less on foreign imports, especially when it comes to food. Here is an initiative that kills two birds with one stone (no pun intended). There is no reason that all-natural (or even organic) chicken cannot be produced here in Trinidad. We have plenty of farmland, access to raw materials and a climate that is perfect for farming. Help us stop TALKING about changing the way we do things and start DOING something about it.

 

Chilled Beef

Here at Blooms, we are always asked why we don’t sell chilled beef like the local large chain supermarket. We wanted to put together a short write-up to help explain some of the realities of beef and steaks sold in T&T.

We know quite a bit about chilled beef. Mainly because most (if not all) of the product we buy is chilled before we ask our suppliers to blast freeze it for shipping. Our ribeyes, for example are pre-purchased and then ‘aged’ for up to 21 days to ensure they have the tenderness, texture and flavor our customers have come to expect. Letting chilled meat rest properly requires a huge amount of space and perfectly controlled chiller rooms. Beef must be chilled and never frozen to accomplish this prior to processing. It’s also important that the environment in which this meat is handled is incredibly sanitary. After they are processed in these ultra-hygienic rooms, they are vacuum sealed to remove all the air from around the steak, sealing in the flavor and keeping out the bad stuff. We then have our manufacturers immediately blast freeze them to ensure they arrive to us and to you in perfect condition.

How does the large chain supermarket sell their steaks frozen?

There is a trick played by many large supermarkets (especially in Trinidad) in order to market  ‘chilled’ and ‘fresh’ steak. However, the steak may be chilled but it’s not techincally fresh. Most of the ‘fresh’ beef sold in supermarkets in Trinidad is actually frozen beef that has been ‘slacked-out’ or defrosted to be cut into steaks and packaged.

slack

This means that meat is purchased frozen, kept frozen and then defrosted to cut and sell to the consumer chilled. This gives the illusion of the meat being fresh and saves the retailer A LOT of money on chiller rooms and a proper fresh meat rotation system. Normally, professional steak processors have advanced inventory, temperature and packaging systems that control this. All of our’s do, at least. In reality, the ‘freshly cut steaks’ you find in the meat section of the grocery are purchased in whole loin format, shipped in once every few months and then defrosted as it’s needed. Buying frozen product that can’t be used for steaks like our’s usually comes out cheaper than buying fresh/unfrozen product.

If you doubt this, ask your local large chain grocery where they are holding their ‘fresh’ product, where their beef chiller is, are they getting in fresh product weekly and if they are rotating their fresh stock of Ribeye properly? No one in the store will have an idea what you are talking about. The meat comes in frozen and they defrost it in the back before they cut it and put it into trays to be film wrapped. It then sits in the chiller until it sells or spoils.

“Isn’t this dangerous?” Well, not really. It’s just the same as if you were to defrost a steak and put it in your fridge to eat a few days later. People defrost our steaks every day. It does, however, speed up the spoilage of the product quite a bit, especially if the steaks are tray packed and not vacuum sealed. If a steak has already been packed fresh, chilled, frozen, shipped, defrosted, opened, cut into steaks, placed into trays and then chilled on the shelf, you have doubled (if not tripled) the amount of times that product has been handled and has touched open air. The more times you handle meat and the more times it is exposed to air, the more bacteria and the faster is breaksdown and spoils. You may notice in the grocery that most of the steaks usually have a green/brown color spreading on the surface. These steaks are now towards the end of their useful life. When this happens, some grocers will grind that product to try to get a few more days to sell it. This is where the fresh ground beef may be coming from.

This defrosting/cutting of previously frozen meat also has a big negative impact if the customer decides they need to freeze the steak after they buy it and get it home. “Slacked-out” beef won’t be good for long, so they must be eaten or frozen quickly. If you need to freeze that product, it’s going to take down the quality quite a bit. Remember, that the steak has already been frozen, and freezing it again will break down the tissues as water in the product, expanding and breaking down additional cells. It makes no sense paying for a premium beef product if it’s going to be frozen twice. When that product is then defrosted AGAIN, it will have a incredibly short shelf life.

While the allure of ‘fresh/chilled’ meats is a good one, make sure you are only buying products that are processed properly. In highly sanitary conditions and with raw materials that have been treated properly. Here at Blooms, our steak program and our chain of supply insure that your products are safe and of the utmost quality.  At this time, selling our steaks vacuum sealed and frozen is the best way to do that.

Hopefully this provides a little bit of insight into your local meat industry and has provided you with a few things to keep in mind when purchasing meats in Trinidad. Especially those being marketed as ‘fresh’.

 

 

 

What is BOP?

BOP is a company that supplies kimbop to Blooms on Saturdays!

bop2

Bop means “rice” in Korean but since Korean meals always include rice bop also means just “food”. We at bop make food that is good for you and package it to be gentler to the environment. The food is delicious and healthy and made fresh every morning. Packaged in 100% compostable boxes made from corn you can feel good knowing where it is from and where it is going.

Kimbop is rice and various fillings wrapped in seaweed. It is a traditional lunch for picnics and busy days lovingly made by Korean moms. Flavourful and easy to eat and
share.

bop currently offers 4 different kimbop varieties: spicy Korean beef, spicy tuna/avocado, tuna/avocado, pumpkin/avocado.

bop

Bop products are sold fresh at Blooms on most Saturdays.

Bop’s Facebook Page

 

Carnival Wholesale Specials

Carnival season is here. If you are a food service vendor, right about now you are most likely looking for delicious and easy food options that you can service quickly and for a reasonable price. Fetes vendors, you need items that are easy to eat and easy to serve.

Our specials this year accomplish this and will drop your food cost for your catering or fete gigs.

Please note that these items are for WHOLESALE purchases and minimum purchase amounts will apply.

1. Pork Baby Back Rib Special

We have USDA Pork Baby Back Ribs on special at $22TT/LB. Each rack contains approximately 12 ribs and 12 racks come in a case. Cases weigh (on average) 44lbs.

These are easy to cook and easy to serve. Cover with a special BBQ sauce and you have a crowd favorite.

DSCN3326

2. Crawfish

Extra Jumbo Crawfish are pre-seasoned and pre-cooked. Curry and serve with dumplings or simply heat and serve. This is not your normal ‘fete food’ and is sure to impress.

Price is $26TT/LB. 5lb bags. 2 bags per case for a 10lb case.

crawfish

Please emails us at: sales@bloomsimports.com to order

LINX or CASH only.