Author: Patty Lee


Ode to a Great Year & A Look to the Future!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For the first time in the history of Heritage Food USA, I feel as if we are not part of a revolution, but part of a genuine, mainstreamed movement. Everywhere we look we see genuine farm-to-table restaurants, a new wave of artisanal bakers, pasta makers, cheesemongers, and truly knock-out coffee shops and chocolatiers. Everything is, against all odds, getting better.

Since the 2001 New York Times article by Marian Burros announcing that Slow Food USA would sell heritage turkeys raised by Frank Reese, Heritage Foods USA has rumbled and sometimes tumbled laying the foundation for an alternative national meat supply.

Our challenges were myriad — finding partner farmers and processors who would help bring the best heritage breeds to the market consistently; finding trusted shipping partners to move our food around the country; finding wholesale and direct-to-home outlets for all the many cuts of livestock we sell; learning the ins-and-outs of maintaining an engaging website, running social media campaigns and managing our blog and marketing materials to help us reach a discerning customer base and engage them in our mission; finding the right team of leaders in the office, which has never been stronger; and learning how to make it work financially for all the parties involved.

Fifteen years ago this seemed like folly — when it came to being a purveyor of sustainable, humanely sourced meat, nothing was known or predictable. But right now we are clearly seeing a long-term future with incredible rewards.

Paradise Locker, our partner in all things butchery, has doubled their capacity after 15 years. This means more sustainably raised meat coming to market, and more infrastructure for good, clean, and fair food. Our farmers are investing in the future, too – there is talk of David Newman giving up his teaching gig to return full time to his farm in the Ozarks. Craig Good is starting to raise the Tamworth breed of pork for the first time. Ben Machin is expanding the number of farmers raising rare breeds of lamb under his flag.

More good news: With security comes more collaboration. This year we are following up the success of our universally beloved porchetta with more items from Swiss butcher extraordinaire Thomas Odermatt. Stay tuned for a Standing Cordon Bleu Roast (!!!),  where Swiss Raclette cheese is rolled into the loin of our Old Spot pigs, using his acclaimed porchetta spices. The tradition of meat and cheese working together in a roast goes back three hundred years to Swiss traditions passed on to Thomas from his generation of butchers. Also from Thomas we’re looking forward to his own invention, the “turketta” — an entire heritage turkey deboned and rolled with delicious paprika and other earth based spices.

In Virginia, master charcutier Sam Edwards is celebrating the 90th year of his family business, and to celebrate, he is producing in limited supplies for the first time ever rare lamb prosciutto, meant to be sliced like the world’s greatest hams. We are also expanding our menu of patés, which met with critical acclaim last year. Salumi too! Stay tuned for rare breeds of rabbit, and new bacons, hams, and sausages in our Samplers and Subscriptions. We will also feature a new harvest of the world’s most delicious anchovies, bathed in various oils by our very own Di Liberto clan.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of hubbub surrounding a WHO report claiming that eating meat is dangerous. And we agreed. Commodity, industrially farmed meat is dangerous — and we have always zealously advocated a turning of the wheel away from those cruel practices. Heritage Foods USA is not part of that system. There is no controversy for us — we are proud to sell what might be the world’s best meats from the most innovatively traditional farms.

Of course none of this would be possible without our fantastic customers. We are so very committed to working for your business, and cannot possibly express the gratitude for having faith in Heritage Foods USA.

Wishing all of you a healthy, and delicious New Year, on behalf of over forty family farms and everyone in the Heritage Family, Thank YOU!!!

 

 

Founder & President

Heritage Foods USA

2015 Heritage Turkey Flock

Every morning it’s the same routine for poultry farmer Frank Reese. Frank walks several thousand turkeys from their barn out to pasture, where they spend the day foraging in the rolling Kansas plains. In the evening he opens the large barn doors, cuing the flock to head indoors where they can roost safely for the night.

Exercise and access to natural forage help to keep heritage turkeys strong and healthy. It also enables the birds to develop fat, nutritional content, and flavor. Not too long ago this was how all turkeys were raised, but Frank has gone to great lengths to preserve traditional standards of raising turkeys. Each year, as his flock is developing, he closely watches the birds mature. At the end of the season Frank will select the individuals with the most desirable traits to parent the next generation.

This yearly cycle drives the sustainability of Frank’s operation. All of his turkeys mate naturally, have a long and productive lifespan, and develop at a healthy rate – simple traits that really allow his flock to stand out from commodity production.

Follow our blog for more 2015 heritage turkey updates!

 

 

 

Tunis Lamb

Heritage Breed Tasting at Lupa Osteria Romana

A heritage breed tasting event was hosted at Lupa Osteria to celebrate our long standing partnership and their commitment to sustainability and biodiversity.

The Renaissance Forge

The Great Artisanal Ham Tasting 2015

In 2014 the team at S. Wallace Edwards & Sons invited us to co-host a tasting of exquisite long aged prosciutto style hams. The kind of hams Parma, Italy has made famous, but these hams were not from Europe. They came from all over the US, from producers who have been practicing traditional curing techniques for many generations.

The goal of the tasting was not to pick a winner– we were not ranking hams. Instead we were developing a vocabulary or lexicon to better describe the subtle nuances of American dry cured, long aged hams. A tradition with a long, rich history, but one that has been eschewed in favor of European hams.

The 1st Great Artisanal Ham Tasting took place under a veil of discretion in our private Brooklyn warehouse. The evening was MCed by outspoken ham evangelist Dave Arnold and food science expert Harold McGee. Chefs from the finest restaurants in New York, top curemasters, and passionate ham enthusiast joined us to taste almost 30 hams side by side.

The event was a huge success and we immediately began planning a tasting for the West Coast.

The Great Artisanal Ham Tasting 2015 was divided into two events. The first was held in San Francisco at artist Angelo Garro’s legendary art studio, The Renaissance Forge. The second was hosted by Chef Stephen Barber of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, an idyllic vineyard and farm in the heart of the Napa Valley. Once again we invited top chefs, this time from the Bay Area and Napa Valley, along with expert curemasters, butchers and local gastronomes to assist us in defining and identifying the subtle flavors which result from differences in cure method, breed, diet, terroir, and aging conditions.

The long history of American Country Ham is one rich in tradition. We look forward to continuing to celebrate the expert craft of the American curemaster.

Check out the gallery bellow to see the results from all 3 tastings side by side along with photographs from the events.

Interested in hosting your own tasting? Let us know in the comments and we’ll help you arrange your own personal tasting!

 

Cattle Share from the Kitchen of B&B Ristorante, Las Vegas

Participating in our 1/8 cattle share program challenges you to eat like a true chef. Cattle shares are the most direct way to support sustainable farmers and are a great way to access exceptional beef produced outside of commercial scale.

Our partnering chefs and loyal customers have come to love our yearly cattle shares. This marks Chef Jason Neve’s second year bringing in a 1/2 cattle to B&B Ristorante, Las Vegas. He wrote a wonderful thank you note to farmers Craig and Amy Good, which we are delighted to share with you along with photos from the restaurant.

“I think we are the ones that are privileged to be working with such a great product.  I have been in the kitchen since 8:30 this morning like a kid in a candy store cooking up this part and that part.  I LOVE IT.

 Just finished the Neck Ragu that we will serve as a pasta tonight.  It took 24 hours to cook, and you can taste every minute of care from the time that you put into raising a great animal, the Fantasmas’ care in slaughtering and our time cooking it.”

For more information about purchasing a cattle share of your own click HERE.

Jason Neve

Chef Jason Neve

Born and raised in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Jason grew up around the water and all of its fresh seafood. An early interest in cooking for family and friends evolved into an education at the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated in 2003. Jason moved to New York City to train at AIX Restaurant under Chef Didier Virot. In 2005, Jason was part of the opening team at Del Posto. Jason’s aptitude in the kitchen and his passion for cured meats lead him out west to Las Vegas in 2007. After five years at the helm of the kitchen at B&B Ristorante, Jason was appointed Culinary Director of B&B Hospitality Group’s Las Vegas operations.

Heritage Foods USA at the United Nations

We are most at home with our boots on while visiting farms, but we’ll clean up our act when the occasion calls. This past weekend we shined our shoes and donned our best for one of the most exciting invitations we’ve received. We were off to visit the United Nations!

 

UN Group LgUN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann

 Heritage Foods USA was invited to attend the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an annual conference addressing issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights within indigenous communities. While the contribution to our worldwide food system by indigenous cultures may not be immediately obvious, they are responsible for fostering and preserving critical agricultural biodiversity. Indigenous cultures have spent millennia developing crops that thrive in their native regions. Did you know there are over 4000 varieties of potatoes? I bet you wouldn’t guess where most of them originated: The Quecha community in Peru farms high in the Andes Mountains and are nicknamed the ‘Guardians of the Potato’ for their agricultural work preserving the areas abundance of biodiversity.

Unfortunately many of these indigenous communities are struggling to preserve their agricultural traditions among growing pressure from rural development and climate change. Worldwide there are 300-400 million indigenous people making up a total of 5% of the global population yet they account for 15% of the world’s most impoverished. One delegate, Anneli Jonsson from the Sami people in northern Sweden spoke of the high rates of depression and suicide amongst the Sami youth. She explained “All of the outside threats on their traditional lifestyle make it difficult for the youth to feel hopeful for the future.”

UN Speaking 2UN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann

Indigenous peoples face unique challenges and these meetings give them the opportunity to consider solutions for their communities. Many of these indigenous groups are taking action to protect their agricultural traditions by creating community seed banks and passing their cultivation techniques to the next generation. While the attendees varied greatly in location – hailing from just north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, the Sonoran Desert in Mexico and Taiwan – they all shared the similar struggle to feed their communities.

We collaborated with Slow Food USA to provide lunch for the indigenous representatives while they discussed Food Sovereignty – the right UN Foodof peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. It was truly humbling to provide a meal for the very people who created the rare varieties of food we love and are striving to save at Heritage Foods USA. We have also had the pleasure of working with several indigenous groups over the years including the Anishinaabeg of Minnesota who make the delicious Native Harvest wild rice and the Iroquois White Corn Project of the Haudenosaunee in New York State. We are delighted to help bring these products back to the market for these groups that have collectively contributed so much to our food system and look forward to partnering with other indigenous groups in the future.

 

 

UN SpeakingUN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann

 

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