Ever Wonder About the Meat We Sell?
One of the great pleasures of working in Healthy Living and Café’s Meat Department is the opportunity to work with the finest farm-raised, locally-produced meats and poultry our region has to offer. In 35 years of work as a chef, food service director, buyer and manager, our Lead Meat Buyer and Manager Paul Hoffman has never come across this model anywhere else; a full-service, nose-to-tail butchery within the brick-and-mortar world of a full-scale grocery store.
We are able to take on the fun and fascinating work of snout-to-tail and full-service butchery because we have such great relationships with our local farmers, whom we trust to meet our high standards. We are in constant communication with these small operations, which means they can supply us with top-of-the-line animals and products when, and only when, we need them- guaranteeing you the freshest and best cared-for meats around. From superior cuts to our in-house charcuterie and sausages, we take the best of what New York and the Northeast have to offer and make it ready for your kitchen.
Who are some of these amazing folks with whom we are so very proud to work? Here are just a few…
Michael Gourlay of Hardwick Beef has labored the last 10 years building a network of 70 farms across the Northeast where 100% grass-fed beef is raised humanely and naturally without any antibiotics or added hormones. These farms in turn ship their beef to two abbatoirs (Maple Ridge Meat in Benson, VT and Leona Meat Plant in Troy, PA) and from them we receive sides of beef each week. These primal and sub-primal cuts are fabricated in our department, transforming into the beautiful steaks and ground beef you know and love.
LaPlatte River Angus Farm in Shelburne, VT has been awarded for its commitment to sustainability, partly due to the Kleptz family’s rotational grazing methods as well as their respectful and humane treatment of their cattle, but also partly due to their direct distribution; we actually get deliveries of primal and sub-primal cuts from John Kleptz himself. Their beef is the highest quality when it comes to flavor and consistency and John is actually working on opening a slaughter facility to improve the already amazing consistency of their products. As with Hardwick Beef, we take great pleasure in breaking each piece down into perfect, usable portions; we even dry-age some in-house for the best flavor imaginable.
Black River Meats, the newest venture of Vermont’s iconic food distributor Black River Produce Co, and a Healthy Living partner since our inception, now hosts the largest hub in the regional meat infrastructure. From them, we receive sub-primal cuts as well as ground beef and patties.
Ed Pacyna of Adirondack Rabbit Ranch (http://www.adkrabbit.com/), Lake Luzerne, NY raises rabbits and processes them in his own State of NY-inspected facility. He then proudly delivers the finished product to our doors in Saratoga Springs and we, in turn, share his amazing products with you.
Greenfield Highland Beef, owned and operated by Janet Steward and Ray Shatney in Plainfield & Greensboro Bend, VT, raises far-and-away the best grass-fed beef we have ever tasted: amazing, rich flavors with excellent marbling and unsurpassed tenderness. Janet and Ray maintain close relationships with their award-winning animals, whose genetics can be traced right back to their native Scottish highlands (making them the oldest genetics of Highland cattle in the U.S.); Ray can name each individual. They’ve started crossing their Highlands with Angus Shorthorn in order to produce animals that grow faster than Highland but still maintain the tenderness and marbling that they are known for, and we’re really looking forward to trying the results.
VT Heritage Grazers out of Bridport, VT, raise purebred heritage breed Berkshire pigs who eat better than any other pigs we know; their pasture-based diet is supplemented with non-GMO whey from local cheesemakers, all-natural grains, and organic veggies, fruits, and nuts fresh from their own farm, owned and operated by Alethea and Jeffrey Bahnck. The resulting flavor is simply phenomenal and it’s an honor for us to butcher these animals from snout to tail for superior cuts as well as our house-made sausages and charcuterie.
When you purchase with us, you are supporting a vast network of businesses large and small who are focused on improving the quality of meat and poultry, the environment, economy, and in no small way the entire food-shed of our region. We’re incredibly picky about the farms and abbatoirs who send us their meat, and the fact that our buyers, managers and staff members have toured these farms – walked the pastures, poked around the barns, not only laid eyes on but often touched the animals – be they pig, beef, lamb, or fowl, makes a world of difference.
So when you stop by our Meat Department, you can trust that you’re in good hands because of the trust we have in our local farmers. There’s nothing that can beat the quality and freshness of the local products we carry and having such close relationships with the farmers themselves is a rare and very special thing indeed.