Local growers don't like Zaycon's back-of-the-truck sales plan

A “drive-through” meat market stops in Portland on Thursday, delivering “quality food at unbeatable value, fresh from the farm to your family table.”

That’s the slogan at Zaycon Foods, a Spokane company that began in 2009 with a food-shopping model that is gaining traction across the country.

Billed as an alternative to Costco, the company offers steep discounts on 40-pound cases of chicken, sausage, bacon, steak and other products in bulk like milk, berries and raw honey. Customers can order online, pick up the food when the delivery truck stops in their city, and stock their freezers or split orders with neighbors.

The company’s next “sausage and bacon event” in Portland is Thursday, March 13, from 3 to 3:30 p.m. at Central Bible Church, 8815 N.E. Glisan St.

Portland customers say they appreciate the quality and convenience. After all, they don’t need to leave their cars to pick up their order. But in the land of hyper-local ingredients, the business model doesn’t fly with farm-to-table champions.

“Buying from Zaycon does not support local farmers,” Trudy Toliver, executive director of Portland Farmers Market, tells the Tribune after browsing the company’s website for about 30 minutes. “The sourcing of their product is from large production facilities. They sell only in large volume, which is very difficult for families on a budget and with minimal freezer space.”

Toliver also takes exception to their phrasing: “no added hormones,” which she says is an effort to “make the shopper believe that the producer is taking special care. That is a sham; USDA has not approved any hormones to be used in chicken for food production.”

Where does Zaycon get its food? A company spokeswoman says the chicken hails from Farmland Foods, in Crete, Neb., as does the bacon and sausage. The honey comes from Spokane and Honeyville, Utah. Fruit comes from farms in Washington, Oregon and California.

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