Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Organic, farm-to-curb products used
at Greenfield drive-in with tasty results

For the past two years, to the extent possible, I've made a concerted effort to change my daily diet to eat only organic foods and meats produced from grass-fed animals without the use of antibiotics and hormones. It's why I was excited this spring when I learned that a farmers market would launch in the neighborhood park near where I live, because all of the consumable meat and produce sold farmers market vendors are grown or produce organically.

It's virtually impossible to abide that lifestyle full time, however, especially when you dine out or visit someone who doesn't embrace the same diet philosophy. It's true that you pay more for organic products and meats from animals raised humanely. But the reward is knowing that you are saving your body from having to process residual chemicals from pesticides, antibiotics and hormones or genetically produced organisms.

On the plus side, the number of eateries promoting organically and freshly produced food is increasing, albeit slowly. In Indianapolis, Pure Eatery (in Fountain Square and Fishers) is a prime example. Among others are: Cafe Patachou and Milktooth. And the number of groceries that sell large volumes of such products (Fresh Thyme, Earth Fare, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Goose the Market/Smoking Goose, Wildwood Market) is growing even faster.

When I learned very recently about The Mug in Greenfield, a non-traditional drive-in on Apple Street across from Riley Park, I decided to make the drive out there and check it out. It's the closest
thing you'll find to a place offering common American fare (sandwiches, burgers and fries) that uses fresh, organic farm-to-curb food. It's on the site of the former Frosty Mug, a long-standing establishment in Greenfield that closed in 2013.

I long ago stopped ordering burgers at eateries because the vast majority were served with inordinate amount of grease visible on the buns, the meat and the plates. When I heard about The Mug, I decided to give it a try. Lee Ann and I drove out there Monday and were delighted with our meals -- I ordered the bacon cheeseburger (below), because it was one of three burgers on the menu that came with Mug sauce.

Lee Ann ordered The Cuban (shredded pork, ham and bacon on traditional Cuban bread baked in-house. See photo leading off the post). We both also had the fresh-cut fries (below).

I'm thrilled to report my burger was delicious -- and grease-free, which no doubt helped the fact that the bun stayed firm and in one piece throughout the meal. The fries were tasty and wonderful, and Lee Ann got a sample of the coleslaw.

I tasted the slaw (below), and I loved its freshness, although I disliked the bits of onion in it (I'm not a raw onion fan, and I ordered my burger without the inclusive red onion). Most slaws are made without onion, but an occasional recipe -- such as this -- will include it, so I'm wary of ordering a slaw unless I know its onion "status."

We each also ordered the fresh-brewed root beer (also delicious), but our server told us root beer refills are not free, which confused me because when I pulled up the menu online after our trip, the menu says the first root beer refill is free and that a fee is charged only on any refills after that. (There are no fees for refills on other soft drinks).

Because The Mug is a drive-in, you have a few dining options: 1) order and dine at your parking spot (a server will deliver your meal), 2) order your meal inside and dine at an outdoor table (there are lots of tables there, as evidence by the first picture below), or 3) order inside and sit at the inside bar (space is limited). We decided to dine outside, and immediately regretted it because of the hornets and flies that pestered us pretty much throughout the meal. The hornets not surprisingly focused on our root beer drinks.

A drive-in station (above) along a parking space behind The Mug, and a copy of the menu (below).

When we had learned about The Mug before taking the trip out there, we saw that the drive-in gets all of its ingredients from Tyner Pond Farm in Hancock County, created by software entrepreneur Chris Baggot and farmer Mark Farrell. After visiting the farm's website, we saw that it had a store on its premises. (Tyner Pond Farm also runs a meat service that delivers free Mondays through Fridays within a wide range around Indianapolis. Also, the owners built a large, modern farmhouse with a state-of-the-art kitchen on the grounds to rent to people interested in spending two or more days at a time to experience life on the farm. You can learn more about that at the website). Since we were already in Hancock County, we decided to visit the farm and check out the store.

Tyner Pond Farm is a nice spread about five miles southeast of Greenfield (a full compliment of photos from the farm appear below the text). The store operates on a self-serve basis; proprietors trust you to pay for what you buy and they leave instructions on how to do so with cash, check or credit card. Perishable products (primarily meats) are kept in a series of freezers marked with signs on the outside, and non-perishables (honey, barbecue and marinara sauces, bee pollen, popcorn, etc.) are on shelves. Just in case you think you can bolt from the unattended store with a ton of free food undetected, the store has a sign warning visitors that security cameras monitor the store's interior around the clock.

To give Tyner Pond Farm a try, we bought almost $70 worth of meat (mostly pork, some chicken) and a few non-perishables (we're trying the bee pollen, barbecue and marinara sauce), stuff we would have sought out elsewhere at some point. We figured if the meals we enjoyed at The Mug were so tasty and enjoyable, we can't go wrong with the take-home products. We'll see. We paid for our purchase using a credit card and had no difficulty using the provided iPad option.

As always, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is especially important if you access the post on a mobile device.

Above and below: A few of the main buildings on the grounds of Tyner Pond Farm.  

Above: A nice row of trees line East Hancock County Road 200 South in front of the farm.

Above: The modern farmhouse available for rent by visitors. The structure sits just inside the east gravel access drive and within very easy walking distance from the store.

Above: A few of the cattle who graze very near to the store (below), which also is near the east access. 

Instructions on how to pay for products purchased in the self-serve store (above) and a look at some of the non-perishables (next four below), including a Tyner Pond Farm cap.

Above: Signs on one of the freezers stocked with meat.

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