Do you remember the meat of your childhood? Do you remember buying meat that didn’t have a tagline, didn’t have a trademark on it, and the only logo was your local butcher writing on the white paper that he wrapped your meat in? I remember that and I am the ripe old age of 41. Over 30 years ago when I was a small child my Grandpa Vernon used to take me to Smitty’s Meats. We would walk in and all I could see at my height was meat! Right there, behind the clean glass of the display, was row upon row of rich, red meat. We could buy pork, beef, chicken, turkey, mutton, lamb, and other meat that was raised on family owned farms and purchased by the butcher to sell in his shop. Grandpa would tell the butcher exactly what he wanted and we would have that for dinner that night. It was meat with flavor, texture, and had fat on it that we all wanted to eat along with that gorgeous muscle. My grandpa knew the farms that worked with his butcher, the man who really was our family butcher.
Where did that go? Industrial models of BIGGER-BETTER-MORE and efficiencies in food production have helped to bring the price of meat down to a price for mass consumption. A lower price for consumers’ pocketbooks has led to a high cost to many elsewhere. Farmers, consumers, and the animals themselves have suffered from the new price of doing business in our modern agricultural system. Cheap meat is costly when it means that animals are housed tightly in buildings for their entire lives, never see the sun, and are given sub-therapeutic antibiotics to counteract the biological dangers brought on by their living conditions. When we eat meat that has not had the pleasure of being outside, spending the majority of their days in the sun, and running in pastures we are eating subpar protein. It is filler. Calories without joy. Pork without natural color and meat without texture.
Multiple breeds of livestock have found themselves in a perilous predicament because of our modern food system. Factories found it difficult to fit their equipment around the various animal shapes and sizes of the multiple breeds so they began to demand farmers raise animals that fit the equipment. Pig A in Slot B, again, and again, and again. Any pig that didn’t fit the “Pig A” mold found themselves not being raised in the same numbers as their modern counterparts. After a few generations of disfavor many of the traditional breeds like Large Black Pigs became endangered and some like the Curly Coat Pig became extinct. Our world has been forever changed by the way we choose to produce meat. Unfortunately for some breeds, our efforts to eat higher quality meat but to do so less often has come too late. At Lucky George Farm we are trying to change the fate of Large Black Pigs by focusing on ‘Conservation through Consumption” and supporting artisan butchers as part of the solution. The more people who try Large Black pork and enjoy the experience of eating some of the best pork available creates more people who will ask for it. If your local butcher, grocer, restaurants, and farmers hear your requests for pork from a traditional breed like Large Black you are part of the conservation of the breed. You become part of the legacy and effort to keep this majestic breed on our planet for the enjoyment of future generations.
We believe if a life is to be enjoyed while living or as meat we must treat the animal with respect, raise them outside in as natural an environment as possible, and ensure that their entire life is lived to the fullest from birth to butcher. We take our Large Black Pigs to Story City Locker in Story City, IA (www.storycitylocker.com). We know of many butchers in Iowa and even Missouri that would be closer to our farm but Ty and Bobbie Gustafson along with their staff are keenly in tune with the needs of small farmers like us. They treat us and our animals like a part of their extended family. They are patient with us, our customers, and every single animal that we take to them to transition from living being to pork perfection. The fine folks of Story City Locker help us to remember the butchers of yesterday and the meat of our childhoods. Ty can Vac-Pac your meat if you choose but isn’t there just something about opening up two glistening pork chops from their white butcher paper wrappings? We think there is and because of it we will continue to provide you with Real. Simple. Meat.