Long before Lucinda and Adam Cramsey met, married, and started a family of their own, they grew up on family farms. After Lucinda’s father passed away when she was eleven years old, her family struggled to make ends meet on their 1,500-acre property near La Belle in northeast Missouri. Her mother worked two jobs. Adam grew up on the family farm near Liberty in western Illinois.

As young adults, Lucinda and Adam both moved to the east coast. Adam’s friends set them up on a date, and Lucinda and Adam bonded over his signature homemade meatballs during a barbecue. The meatballs were wrapped in bacon and then grilled on a smoker. He called them “Moink”—a contraction of Moo and Oink. Lucinda loved them.

At the time, Adam worked as an engineer, and Lucinda set up organic produce boxes to sell to consumers in Florida. The couple eventually married and had children. That’s when the Cramseys decided they would return to their rural roots. They moved to La Belle, near Lucinda’s family farm.

Brad Ingram’s old barn above is near Rolla.

From the beginning, the Cramseys slowly worked to acquire certified organic designation for the family farm. The ultimate taste test may have been when Adam began raising grass-fed hogs in their woods. For seven years, Lucinda refused to eat pork because of how most hogs are raised, but she approved of how his hogs were raised. She thought the meat from Adam’s animals also had amazing texture and flavor that met her exacting taste standards.

But how could the couple get this meat into the hands of individual consumers? Without an established supply chain, many farmers don’t want to risk the financial success of their farms by following biodynamic practices. Biodynamic farms strive to establish soil fertility through use of composting, cover crops, and crop rotation as well as targeted and rotated grazing by animals. As other farmers and friends who knew the Cramseys also started questioning how to get their sustainably raised chickens and beef into the hands of consumers, the couple developed their concept for customizable meat subscription boxes. And Lucinda knew just the right name for the new company—Moink.

The Moink farmer group soon began, using the tag line “Ethical Meat. Exceptional Taste.” Drawing on her previous experience with produce, Lucinda began developing meat boxes full of animal protein from a number of small farms for direct sales to customers.

Each meat box featured a selection of humanely raised animal proteins. Sourced exclusively from family farms, the boxes featured grass-fed and grass-finished beef and lamb as well as pastured pork and chicken and wild-caught salmon sourced from independent Alaskan fishermen.

Lucinda and Adam and their two children, Henry, 3, and Fiona, 12, work together on their farm. Fiona raises chickens.

Participating farmers shared a common goal. As the Moink website says: Our vision? To become a go-to source for humanely raised and ethically sourced meats for the consumer, as well as an outlet for grass-based farmers to sell their proteins.

With farms at Boonville and Sedalia, David and Mariah Boatright work with Moink to distribute about half of their pastured lamb and three-quarters of the chickens they raise on their Fed From the Farm property.

“They pay a good and fair price, and they have the same passion for quality food produced with regenerative methods of agriculture. We’re healing the land while producing nutrient-rich food through our agricultural practices,” David says.

Since Moink began, Lucinda has worked to create a marketplace for farmers who strive to produce animal proteins without confinement. The young business kicked off its national launch in 2017 with a contest. After signing up on the company website, a lucky winner received a free, full year meat box subscription. That meant nearly 160 pounds of humanely raised animal protein or 480 servings, with a value of nearly $2,000.

Moink beef is pasture-grazed. This curious critter is on the Bertolla Farms in Alabama.

Several things may contribute to meat quality, Lucinda says. Diets, how the animals are raised, and how the meat is processed may all make a difference. For example, some chicken raised in confinement is dipped in bleach to kill pathogens, Lucinda says. Moink meat is processed without that step. Moink cattle graze on grass, rather than being fattened on corn and other grains in feedlots. Moink pigs may eat the same grain as feedlot pigs, but they’re raised outside where they can still forage.

The Cramseys and other Moink farmers want to change the food system while feeding America and still being able to put food on their own tables.

This means their livestock are raised without the use of growth hormones. These animals also feed on non-GMO grains, and their meat lacks added colors, nitrites, or nitrates. Moink farmers add no solutions to their packaged chicken, and there is no sugar in Moink bacon or breakfast sausage.

The Moink website profiles participating family farms and provides a glimpse of the stories behind the food on their customers’ dinner plates.

These hair sheep are on Brad Ingram’s farm near Rolla. Hair sheep produce a course hair rather than wool that has to be sheared.

Moink is based on a cooperative business model. It provides participating farms and farmers a guaranteed market and better prices than they might receive from working with the big four food companies, who control 80 percent of the meat market, according to a USA Today March 2019 story. This mindset allows them to put their primary focus on creating quality meat versus mostly focusing on the quantity they sell.

Each customizable meat box features thirteen to sixteen pounds of protein. The selection may include pasture-raised pork, chicken, beef, and lamb as well as wild-caught Alaska salmon, for an average of less than $4.50 per serving. Customers can order a somewhat customizable all-beef box featuring coulotte, petite sirloin, flank steak, kabobs, short ribs, chuck roast, French rib-eye, or ground beef.

Customers can also mix and match items in other core boxes too, which initially feature:

• beef, chicken, and salmon;
• beef, lamb, and chicken;
• beef, pork, and chicken;
• beef, pork, and salmon;
• chicken and salmon; or
• chicken, salmon, and pork.

Moink chickens are free-range and pasture-raised. No added solutions are injected into the meat.

Each customer order is packed fresh and delivered on dry ice. Orders ship via FedEx, every three, four, or six weeks—depending on individual customer preference. The meat has never been frozen.

Moink has also offered specials, such as twenty dollars off the first order plus two steaks, and free shipping is available to all lower forty-eight states.

“Folks like to know what they are paying for something, so it seems prudent to just say this is the price and it includes everything. Here at Moink, part of our core values is transparency. We put a lot of effort into being up front about things, and that includes pricing,” Lucinda says.

Lucinda and Adam knew that an ethically sourced meat subscription program with national distribution couldn’t rely strictly on Missouri farmers. Today, Moink’s network includes more than a hundred farms, which operate in twenty different states and beyond. Each of these family-operated properties produces quality food while employing regenerative agriculture methods.

“We currently source from eleven different Missouri farms, across four different animal species, and by year’s end will have over fifty,” Lucinda says. “We are actively bringing on new farmers, and in general, we reach out.”

How individual farms get their products to Moink for packaging and distribution varies depending on which animals they raise. “Each species has a different supply chain, and they all work differently,” Lucinda says. “It also depends on where the farm is located. We seek to have the animals processed as close to the farm as possible with a facility that meets our processing standards.”

Lucinda remains hands-on when it comes to packaging and distribution of Moink meat subscription boxes, but Adam is only occasionally involved as he still works at an off-the-farm job.

Moink sales topped $85,000 in 2017, and they reached $730,000 by October 2018. At that time, the company also boasted an impressive 71 percent subscription retention rate—no small feat for a company whose thirteen- to sixteen-pound boxes cost $159.

Moink subscription boxes vary by consumer choice but might contain rib-eye, roast, beef kabobs, chicken legs, chicken breast, flank steak, and wild-caught salmon from an independent fisherman.

The business transformed after Lucinda appeared on an episode of the popular ABC television show, Shark Tank, in October 2018. “Farmers don’t want a handout; they want a level playing field,” she said early in her presentation.

A feisty redhead with a matching T-shirt, Lucinda told the Sharks that after her father died, her mother worked two jobs just so they could keep the farm. Lucinda sought $250,000 for 10 percent of the company. She then served the Sharks samples of premium rib-eye steak and bacon.

Although the Sharks loved the taste and texture of the Moink meats that Lucinda served, several judges found it troubling that she was netting only 10 percent profit on her sales while valuing the company at $2.5 million. Each of the regular Sharks declined to participate with Moink.

But guest Shark and past entrepreneur presenter, Jamie Siminoff, offered $400,000 for 20 percent of the company. Siminoff had pitched the Sharks, himself, in 2013, and he left without a deal related to his video doorbell company DoorBot. However, Siminoff later sold his company, now called Ring, to Amazon for more than $1 billion.

In offering Lucinda a deal, Siminoff also advised Lucinda that she needed to put some infrastructure in place so that she could improve the profit margins for all involved parties. Lucinda accepted Siminoff’s offer without further negotiation.

“One small step for me, one large step for family farmers,” Lucinda said. “From a town of six hundred to standing here today—wow!” Then Lucinda danced her way out of the Shark Tank, flush with success and bright eyes blazing.

Visit www.MoinkBox.com.

Other Participating Missouri Farms

* Adam’s Dirt Farm, La Belle
hogs, chickens, sheep, and vegetables
* Brad Ingram, Rolla
* Fed from the Farm, Boonville and Sedalia
lamb and chickens
* Grassland Beef Farm, Canton
* McMurry Family Farms, Franklin
* Schnelle Farms, Unionville
beef and hogs
* Kenny Suter, Williamstown

Some of Moink’s Out of State Farms

* Bertolla Farms, Loxley and Daphne, Alabama
* Dettelbach Farms, Wynne, Arkansas
sheep and chickens
* Falling Sky Farms, Leslie, Arkansas
chickens, pigs, and beef
* Farm on Mill Creek Meadow, Charleston, Arkansas
chickens, turkey, hogs, and beef
* Mannix Family Ranch, Helmville, Montana
* The Other Side Farm, Marshall, Arkansas