Category: News

Heritage Foods USA at Slow Meat 2015

Heritage Foods USA is headed to Denver this week to participate in the Slow Meat Symposium, engaging with over 200 stakeholders in the American meat supply chain. The event runs June 4th through 6th with a number of events designed to push the boundaries in how we think about raising, processing, and consuming meat.

Slow Meat is a movement that actualizes the culture of confinement issue and an event that brings together ranchers, farmers, butchers, chefs, eaters and more to share ideas on how we can turn the herd toward meat that is good, clean and fair for all. Slow Meat brings together ranchers, farmers, butchers, chefs, eaters and more to share ideas on how we can turn the herd toward meat that is good, clean and fair for all.

-Slow Food USA

On Saturday, June 5th, the day following the tasting, a Slow Meat Fair opens to the public. Heritage Foods USA will be hosting Breeds and Brews during the fair – an informative tasting of four heritage breeds of hogs with beer pairings from Denver’s own Great Divide.

In preparation for the event we picked up seven styles of Great Divide and compared them with the four pork breeds we will be showcasing during the event – Duroc, Berkshire, Old Spot, and Red Wattle.

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Founded in 2014, Slow Meat promotes several basic tenants including:

– Better meat, less

– Biodiversity

– Eating Nose-to-tail

– Understanding Food Labels

Heritage Foods USA also lives by these values and is proud to participate alongside Slow Meat in promoting better meat ethics and standards of operations in the meat supply chain


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!


Spring Lambing


Tunis Tamarack

Young Tunis lambs at Tamarack Vermont Sheep Farm bask in the warm spring sun.

Farmers affectionately refer to the birthing of baby lambs as ‘lambing’. Early spring is the traditional time for lambing, giving the young lambs time to fully develop before the challenges of winter set in.

In the winter lambs are kept close to the barn so they have solid shelter from storms.  In the spring the growing flock is released into fresh paddocks to enjoy tender clovers and grasses as the forage develops in summer fields. By the time summer comes the flock is has grown more independent and is ready to move on to well established grasses in more distant ranges.

Spring lambing is convenient for the farmer as ewes reach maturity within 5-12 months of birth. Sheep are typically bred once a year, in the fall. Ewes bred in the fall will carry for about 5 months and timed right lambing will occur just after the last snow.


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


Sourwood Honey


“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sourwood Honey


Taste Notes: Balanced, Smokey, Flower, Smooth, Light, Airy, Spiced finish
Wine is the expression of the geographygeology and the climate of a region as much as it represents a particular varietal of grape. In the same way honey represents more than the work of a hive. It is a unique and beautiful reflection of the environment, the season and the blooms pollinated in the pursuit of its creation.

A skillful beekeeper knows how to arrange their hives just so to ensure the bees pollinate a specifically selected flower. They select flowers and time the collection to produce exquisite and unique honeys that exemplify their provenance. Sourwood Honey is a celebrated but rare variety of single flower origin produced in the Southeastern United States.

Sourwood Trees, (Oxydendrum arboreum) are native to the United States and bloom from mid-June to late July, thriving on the rocky soils of Sourwood_flowers_closeup (1)the Allegany, Blue Ridge, and Smoky Mountains. Because they bloom later in the year, after most of the wildflowers, maple and tulip blooms, there is a narrow 3-4 week window where beekeepers can harvest this rare nectar.

Sourwood honey is prized by connoisseurs having won best honey in the world twice at the prestigious Apimondia World Honey Show. It is distinguished by a light amber color, slow crystallization and a spicy, gingerbread twang on the finish. Sourwood Honey is often in short supply as the nectar produced by the trees is very dependent on the climatic conditions. Sourwood trees are also declining in number because of habitat loss from development.

Mike Childers is a local beekeeper in Raleigh, North Carolina who brings his bees deep into the Great Smoky Mountains right beside National Park Service Property to pollinate on Sourwood trees well away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Lightly filtered, pristine, and straight from the bees to your table.

To learn more about Sourwood Honey and listen to an interview with Mike check out this piece on Heritage Radio Network.


For more information about purchasing Sourwood Honey click here

The Carnivore’s Manifesto at SVF Foundation

SVFoundationOn the beautiful Swiss Valley Farm (SVF), in front of a room full of local Newport foodies, farmers and chefs Patrick Martins boldly declared, “Local is a measurement of distance, not taste.”

Immediately the row of chefs in the back row nodded in agreement and the farmers sitting in the middle moved to the edge of their seats. Ever the instigator, Patrick went on to have a rousing conversation with the attendees about his book, The Carnivore’s Manifesto and the importance of preserving rare breeds of livestock.

Preserving rare breeds of livestock is at the very core of the SVF Foundation, who preserves germplasm (semen and embryos) from rare and endangered breeds. SVF freezes these rare genetics in tubes and stores them in liquid nitrogen. The collection will eventually be moved to the Smithsonian where the material will remain viable for at least 1,000 years. SVF has a network of farmers who bring their rare breeds to Newport, RI to spend a year enjoying the ocean air and contributing their genetic material to the foundation’s collection. By collecting 200 embryos and 3,000 straws of semen per breed, SVF is able to reawaken a breed with its full genetic diversity within one generation. SVF provides an important and necessary safety net to the mission Heritage Foods USA has been working towards for over the last 12 years, which is to preserve genetic diversity in our food system.

The talk at SVF was intensified by the learned audience who, already passionate about heritage breeds, was quickly asking the tough questions. “How do we determine which breeds are truly heritage? How can chefs best support small farmers when they are often working at different economies of scale? How can we develop a better processing infrastructure?” It was a powerful event and while there are no easy answers, it is only through these conversations and books like The Carnivore’s Manifesto that we can begin to address those issues.

A huge thank you to the SVF Foundation for hosting us and filling the room with passionate carnivores. Heritage Foods USA applauds the great work of SVF and their efforts to ensure the future for heritage breeds of livestock.


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