I’d promised more about our adventure acquiring Chuck (our nickname for the side of grass-fed beef), and here it is. I’ll try to make it interesting, but…well, today is one of those days when there just isn’t enough coffee in the state of Ohio to knock the menopausal brain-fog out of me.
When I called Jon Berger and asked about buying some of his pastured beef, he suggested we pay a visit to White Feather Meats in Creston, Ohio – the people who process his beef exclusively – and buy some in their retail store before we made up our minds. So we did, and we were very pleasantly surprised by what we found.
We’d been in the retail stores of a local beef farmer before – bustling places with huge counters stuffed with just about every kind and cut of beef you can imagine and people waiting in line to be served. This was not our experience when we arrived at White Feather one Saturday morning at about 10 a.m.
First, there were no long counters full of meat waiting to be weighed and wrapped, just several freezers full of vacuum-packed meats, a small counter and a window into a back room that was dark and quiet. A tall, dark-haired young man who introduced himself as Seth Perkins greeted us and asked if he could assist us in any way.
And assist us he did – answering all of our questions patiently, not only about their relationship with Green Vista Farm but their own business, which isn’t confined to Jon’s grass-fed beef. In addition to processing and selling the products of many local farmers, including beef (both pastured and grain-finished), pork, lamb and some chicken, they also raise, process and sell their own bison.
It’s darn tasty, too. Yup, in addition to several cuts of Jon’s pastured beef (which included a brisket) we bought some ground bison along with a couple of bison steaks, a bison brisket and some bison stew meat (I’m going to make chili with the stew meat in the fall). We were so impressed with the quality of the beef and bison, we’ve been back several times and purchased pork chops, sausage, bacon, lamb chops and ground lamb – I haven’t gotten around to the lamb yet, but I have to tell you the pork we’ve purchased is so good that we’re going to source a whole pig through White Feather, as well.
It isn’t just the taste and quality of the meat we’ve purchased that has made us such strong advocates of White Feather Meats and the Perkins family, it’s their passion for and knowledge about what they do. On one of our subsequent trips to their farm, we spoke to Seth and his brother Scott about their processing methods and just couldn’t have been more impressed. They explained to us, chart in hand, about the various cuts of beef, where they came from on the steer (only steers go to market as beef) and how they should be cooked. These young men also did a marvelous job in explaining the advantages of pastured beef – so much so that they accomplished something in twenty minutes that had taken me weeks: convinced Beloved that this was absolutely the right thing to do.
I was also very upfront in questioning about their slaughter methods; Scott, in turn, was very upfront about answering. Not only are their methods humane, they far exceed the USDA requirements as outlined in the Humane Slaughter Act. They are also USDA certified, which means there is always a USDA representative on the premises during the slaughter process. All of the meat is then dry-aged for at least 14 days in temperature-and-humidity-controlled facilities before it is cut to customer specification, vacuum-wrapped in USDA approved material and quickly frozen.
And they don’t prevaricate or fabricate in order to gain business – when I asked if the pork they sell is pastured, Seth was quite honest in answering “No.” But, he explained, the farmer they do business with treats his animals ethically – they are housed in clean, uncrowded living spaces, never given growth hormones or treated needlessly with antibiotics and are never fed any of the dangerous garbage and GMO-laced feed that are the normal diet of industrial, CAFO animals.
“We wouldn’t do business with him otherwise,” Seth said.
All reasons we are vocal advocates of supporting small, local businesses, ethical and sustainable farming operations and the folks at White Feather Meats. They have loyal customers here at the Sushi Bar.