Tag: pasture-raised


Slow Meat Symposium 2015

A vegan, a butcher and a cow walk into a room… And started talking

 

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From Thursday, June 4th through Saturday, June 6th over 200 delegates from 40 states and 12 nations gathered in Denver for roundtable discussions aimed at progressively revitalizing a meat system that is currently wasteful, inhumane, and… well, not as delicious as it could be.

 

  The diverse group included producers, policy makers, distributors, retailers, press, chefs, farmers, & ranchers. Discussions were focused on points of transition and difference, collaboration and future partnerships –the take away was action based.   

  One theme of the conference raised in many conversations was: How do we organize local and regional collaboration to increase the national impact of the better meat movement? To begin, we can support each other through industry – sharing resources and knowledge, and helping to create trade for better meat so it becomes a larger percentage of what’s available on the market. Another discussion central to the conference and Slow Meat movement was: What might we have to forgo as a broader community to have better quality meat available on our tables? Does it mean not eating meat one or two days a week? Does it mean only eating a certain quality of meat? Erin Fairbanks dives into this discussion in Episode 236 of The Farm Report. Changing the way we consume meat might mean spending the same each month on meat as families are now, and just eating less of it. Interpretation of the Better Meat, Less Campaign was a hot discussion amongst delegates.  

 

Producers in attendance wondered if the positioning would discourage consumers from supporting an already small segment of the meat supply chain rather than disrupting the unabated consumption of cheap meats made available by the commodity market.  One aspect of the campaign delegates were able to agree on was that eating Better Meat, Less might also mean moving away from the quick fix of the prized loin to eating more braising cuts, which pack a ton of flavor and are a fortifying addition to vegetable and grain based dishes.

One point well received was that our guiding light should, in part, be supporting the efforts of farmers who are working to improve the flavor of meat, as well as the health of the land and animal.

The Symposium was followed by the Slow Meat Fair, which was open to the public on Saturday. Temple Grandin gave the opening keynote. Temple continues to point out aspects of animal husbandry many of us overlook. Find her insightful keynote speech on Heritage Radio Network.

 

  During the fair Heritage Foods USA collaborated with Steve Kurowski, President of the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, and Great Divide Brewery to produce a breed and brew tasting. At the tasting Mary McCarthy, Director of Operations at Heritage Foods presented historic and breed specific information on Berkshire, Red Wattle, Old Spot, and Tamworth breeds while guests tasted the four breeds of pork side by side. The meats were carefully prepared by Chef Matthew Raiford, who weighed out the same salt and pepper for each loin.  

 

The 3rd Annual Slow Meat is scheduled to be held in 2017, but you can get involved now through your local Slow Food chapter. Visit Slow Meat online for more information.

Heritage Pork Taste Chart

Pork Breed Histories and Heritage Pork Taste Chart

TasteChartPork

Berkshire [Fatty] smooth and creamy flavor

Berkshire pork is elegant, luscious and smooth. The meat boasts a round and buttery flavor that melts on the tongue.

Red Wattle [Fatty] flavorful, earthy, minerally, bold

Red Wattle meat is charmingly inconsistent and can be earthy, vegetal and herbaceous with a hint of cinnamon. Its expressive porky flavor is concentrated and bold.

Duroc [Lean] clean, mild flavor, lean

Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are polished and easy on the palate. Duroc pork is a standard, not to fatty, not too strong pig.

Old Spot [Very Fatty] milky, nice marbling and fat ratio

Old Spot has the creamiest taste of any of the pig breeds. The Old Spot tastes like a tour of the fruit orchard where they famously grazed in old England!

Tamworth [Very Lean] balanced flavor, sweet, very lean

Tamworth is the leanest of the pork breeds that we sell, but still has incredible tenderness and flavor. It is rootsy like the woods it ranges on and has a clean finish.

We had a great time taste testing these breeds and hope we have come up with some words that truly describe the characteristics of the pork. We would love to hear your thoughts!!! Please send us your taste comments to info@HeritageFoodsUSA.com so that we can add your words to the list!

Taste the difference with one of our breed variety packs!

 

Heritage Lamb is a Hit!

 

Ewes in DWP

Spring is here, and so is lamb season. Lamb is closely associated with Easter feasts, but did you know that the lengthening of days matches up with a lamb’s natural mating patterns?

Unfortunately, rare and heritage lamb breeds lack the industrial-sized methods of production which yield mass-produced, individual lamb cuts found in grocery stores. To avoid waste, Heritage Foods USA has moved into the half lamb game. Purchasing half lamb from our farmers is the best, most cost-efficient way to enjoy these gastronomical masterpieces.

This year, we were fortunate enough to acquire four rare breeds from four family farms, spanning from Vermont to Montana.

Tunis – Sandstone Ridge Farm, Wisconsin:

Sandstone Ridge Tunis
Tunis Lamb from Sandstone Ridge

Having originated in North Africa, the Tunis is especially heat-tolerant and was the most popular breed of sheep in the Southern United States until the Civil War, when nearly all Tunis flocks were wiped out. Slowly but surely, through the efforts of farms like Sandstone Ridge, this breed is being brought back. The Tunis is an excellent grazer and produces meat that is flavorful, yet delicate.

When James and Lisa Twomey found their “piece of heaven” in La Farge, Wisconsin, the land was overgrown with weeds and shrubs. They decided sheep were the best animal to help them manage their pastures and settled on the Tunis, one of the oldest breeds the world. The Twomeys aren’t the only fans of the Tunis—both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson raised flocks of this personable, good-natured breed.

Dorset Horn – Tamarack Sheep Farm, Vermont:

Dorset Horned Sheep
Dorset Horned Sheep from Tamarack Sheep Farm

Nestled in the pastoral valleys of Central Vermont, Ben Machin and Grace Bowmer are continuing a family tradition by raising sheep from the same genetic line as the flock started by Ben’s great-grandfather. Tamarack Sheep Farm is committed to the preservation and continuation of heritage lamb breeds and is excited to work with Heritage Foods for the first time, offering their Tunis-Dorset Horn lambs for Easter.

Ben and Grace love these breeds, not just because of their history, but also because they possess qualities beneficial for both farmer and customer. The Tunis is a sweet-natured sheep with a docile personality. As a breed known for heavy milking, the Dorset Horn ewe makes a particularly good mother, raising sturdy lambs with good appetites. Crossing these breeds ensures vigorous lambs that produce excellent quality meat.

With fewer than 1,000 registered in existence in The U.S. and less than 5,000 globally, the Dorset Horned lamb is on the ALBC’s Threatened list. Thought to have descended from an ancient breed native to southwestern England, Dorset Horned sheep boast a milky, almost airy meat that is incredibly tender and delicately flavored.

Katahdin – Clover Creek Farm, Tennessee: 

Katahdin Lamb

The Katahdin is a meat breed, not a wool breed. As a result, it tastes delicious. The Katahdin sheep is the product of innovative thinking on behalf of a farmer named Michael Piel. In the 1950’s, Piel brought three sheep from St. Croix to his farm in Maine. He crossed these “African Hair Sheep,” as they were known, with his own flock of “Down” breeds (more typical wooly meat sheep found in New England), producing a lamb he called “Katahdin” after the highest mountain in Maine. The Katahdin does not need to be sheared and produces a well-muscled, lean but meaty carcass.

It is for these reasons that Chris Wilson has been raising Katahdin sheep on her farm in Tennessee for more than 18 years. Following the motto “farming in harmony with nature,” Chris raises Animal Welfare Approved sheep using rotational grazing methods. In 1999 Chris was named Conservation Farmer of the Year. The Katahdin lamb has delicious, succulent meat with nutty, full flavor.

 

 

Icelandic – Willow Spring Ranch, Montana:

Icelandic Lamb
Gremlin and Tiramisu, two of the Icelandic Lambs from Willow Spring Ranch

Brought across the North Atlantic Ocean by the Vikings, Icelandic sheep were able to survive the harsh conditions thanks to their double- coated fleece and natural inclination to forage on pasture. Katy and Richard Harjes choose to raise Icelandics on their ranch in Montana for these reasons.

Founded in 2009 by Katy and Richard Harjes, Willow Spring Ranch is grass-fed certified by the American Grass-fed Association. The Harjes use organic, humane practices and raise their Icelandic lambs on a 100% grass diet, as soon as they are weaned.

Icelandic sheep are a true triple-threat, known for their creamy milk, luxurious wool, and fine-grained, clean-tasting meat. In fact, Icelandic meat is mild enough that it has been known to convert self-proclaimed “lamb-a-phobes.”

This year’s heritage lamb project was a huge success. Eighty lambs were sold in total, thirty-eight of which were purchased within the first week. In fact, we sold all of our Tunis sheep within the first week! As always, we’d like to thank those who were able to participate in our project and helped in making it a huge success. Your support allows our farmers to continue breeding and raising new lambs, and ensures the preservation of heritage breeds for years to come.

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