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Posts from the ‘Agricultural’ Category

Does Brown Meat Mean It’s Bad…?

A few evenings ago, I was consulted by a friend of mine about the color of meat and how to tell if it’s bad. She sent me this photo….

Dark MeatBack story… this woman bought these steaks, opened them up, turned them over, and found this…. She assumed they were bad and threw them out! She then went ahead to post the photo on Facebook with a comment about how upset she was her steaks were bad. Although I don’t know this woman, I wish I would have been able to let this woman know her steaks were perfectly fine. And it makes me sad that nobody on those 20 comments told her that either.  Read more

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Meat Supply in Danger…?

Lately I’ve been seeing confusion coming across our social media feeds in regards to the government’s plans for sequestration and the meat industry. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on, you should be. After all, it could affect all of us. And to us in the industry, it’s a scary thing.

So what’s all this about…? Well last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that, in order to meet the required budget cuts demanded by the sequestration plan, federal meat inspectors would be required to go on a two week furlough. So what does this mean..? Basically, all meat production under federal inspection will cease to exist for two weeks. Read more

Bacon Shortage…?

I’ve seen a few people joke about it… I’ve seen a few people seriously ask about it.. And I’ve seen news media all over it. Is there really going to be a bacon shortage…? The simple asnwer is no. Well, because, bacon requires pork so in order to be a bacon shortage, there must also be a pork shortage. I’ll get into the whys and how comes a bit later. First, let’s talk about BACON. How many of you actually know what cut of the hog bacon comes from…??

Where does BACON come from…?

Bacon, as we know it here in the United States, comes from the belly of a hog. If you remember from WAY back when I posted this in depth write up about how we take a hog from hanging on a hook, cut it up, and send it out the door in packages.. You can find this image:

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Every Little Bit Helps…

Some of you may recall my “war with words” I had with one of our local newspapers, Chico News & Review over Lean Finely Textured Beef or what some people call “Pink Slime”… Words were exchanged, everyone had their own opinion of what happened, it appeared in the paper for about two weeks, and then nothing ever came of it.

Fast forward a few months later… We receive an envelope in the mail from Chico News & Review, figuring it was just another attempt to advertise, we opened it anyway. Low and behold, there was a letter. A hand written letter. From the General Manager. And in the first paragraph of the letter, an apology. I must admit, I was rather shocked. I mean I thought I had ruffled feathers that would never lay down again.

But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t write a letter to editor simply to poke them with a stick. I wrote that letter to the editor because I was sincerely upset with how my industry was being portrayed. And that in fact, my local newspaper was giving people of my own town false information about a product produced by my industry. It was in fact my passion for the meat industry that pushed me to sit down and form my thoughts. It was that I was going to stand up for what I believe in, regardless of the outcome, that pushed me to put the words to the page and hit the send button.

Being an advocate for agriculture has its ups and downs, some days you aren’t going to be popular with people. Somedays your local newspaper will smear you in their pages. Somedays people will wish all kinds of awful things on you… But don’t let harsh criticisms of others stop you from standing up for what you believe in, what your livelihood has been, and standing up for all those people out there who work longer than a 9-5 to feed the rest of us. And here’s proof that although sometimes it feels like your response may lay on deaf ears or that what you have to say doesn’t make a difference.. It does. So continue sharing your story, continue to initiate and foster conversation about agriculture. Every little bit helps!

Chico News and Review,  it’s apparent to me that, clearly, we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate agriculture together. If your way of supporting agriculture is doing so by promoting local agriculture than so be it. I will continue to promote all facets of ag, both large and small, commercial and organic.  In my last post to you, I entitled it, let’s be in this together and I am glad that you took the initiative to accept my apology and hold out your hand to mine. Thank you.

Wordless Wednesday: Heaven on Earth

The other day I was wrapping a beef and I saw something that stopped me in my tracks…

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If you missed my feature here than you missed me praising short ribs. And these short ribs literally took my breath away! They are gorgeous! Yes, meat can be gorgeous! Don’t you agree!?

Happy Wednesday everyone! And in case you missed my response in the feature. I did the leg work for you…

Jenny: I am just going to put this out there and I keep saying this but short ribs are like heaven! You have to know how to cook them. They have to be cooked for a long period of time much like a chuck roast. But they are worth it and super easy to cook! The Pioneer Woman http://thepioneerwoman.com has some amazing recipes! I’d say that cooked correctly I’d take short ribs over a filet steak. There you have it, straight from a butcher’s mouth (laughs). Filets are good but they cost a lot more. If you’re looking for something cheap, delicious, and you’ve got time to cook them, short ribs are it!

Wordless Wednesday: Cutting Up a Hog

Last week, we were invited to the local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter (http://www.westonaprice.org/) to do a demonstration on cutting up a 1/2 hog. And we were so honored to find out that over 100 people attended! We feel so privileged to be the “meat” voice for 0ver 100 people and share our knowledge of 45 years with them. Last week really cemented for me that we should start hosting public seminars to educate the everyday consumer about what it is that we do, because they want to know. They want to ask questions. And we love to answer questions and show what it is that we do! So enough words for wordless wednesday… I brought my camera along and captured some photos.

This is what a half carcass hog looks like

Tools of the Trade

Pulling the leaf lard (fat)

Showing the carcass

“Breaking” (separating) the shoulder from the rest of the carcass

The pork shoulder (boston butt)

He is explaining something 😉 Love the knife in his hand.

“Breaking” (separating) the loin from the belly and spare ribs

Ta-Da! The pork loin!

Mmmm…Bacon. The pork belly!

The spare ribs, which came off the belly!

Answering questions.

Thank you so much  to the local Weston A. Price chapter for hosting us, inviting so many members, and making us feel like meat rock stars! I didn’t capture all of the parts of the process SO if you are interested, please check out my blogpost on cutting up a whole hog from START to FINISH with photos! http://chicolockersausage.com/2011/08/25/where-do-your-favorite-pork-cuts-come-from/

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Eat some pork today!

 

California Association of Meat Processors Convention

Ever since 1984, Chico Locker & Sausage Co. has been attending the California Association of Meat Processors (CAMP)’s annual convention. CAMP is a great organization full of wonderful people, many of whom have become like family. People who are willing to share their knowledge, expertise, and passion. Every year CAMP hosts it’s annual convention in the spring and this year we were lucky enough to host it in Chico! The turn out was amazing, one of the most successful we’ve had in a long time. Over 30 meat processing plants from all over California drove up for the weekend. Many new faces as well as students with a passion for the meat industry. For the “old timers” in the association this is exciting, the younger generation is taking an interest in what is slowly becoming a lost art. The younger generation is realizing that this organization is a wealth of knowledge and that if left untapped, it will not be shared and continued.

The convention begins Friday with checking in of meat into the Cured Meat Competition. Products are entered into specific categories and are then judged by some of the best in the industry on external appearance, internal appearance, aroma, flavor, texture. Points are given and then calculated in order to find out who placed first, second, and third in each category. Judges and assistants work hard for two days and during our closing session on Saturday, awards are given.

But this is just a portion of what goes on at our conventions. There are also two days of workshops on all kinds of topics. Making ham and bacon, cutting up a lamb, making snack sticks… Just to name a few. Lots of valuable knowledge is shared. I was given the opportunity to speak on utilizing social media for your business. I spoke about the success of this blog as well as Twitter. And really shared with everyone the passion I have found through educating people about meat. I was pleasantly surprised that many people found my presentation motivating and hopefully in the next few months I will be able to share with you all some new blogs that are popping up!

I am extremely honored to report that we took home FIVE awards from the Cured Meat Show as well as received one of the highest honors, The Wayne Hall Excellence in Curing Award. Some of our products that brought home awards were: teriyaki jerky, peppersticks, potato sausage, bone-in ham, and bacon. The Wayne Hall Excellence in Curing Award is a memorial award that is awarded to the individual who has the highest combined score in the following categories: bone-in ham, boneless ham, bacon, and smoked turkey. So it really is a testament to quality of your cured products.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Good people, good food (that’s a given when you’re dealing with MEAT people!), and lots of good times. My family hosted the President’s Party on Friday night at our house. My best friend and fabulous chef Amber Kirpes of recipeshmecipe was gracious enough to travel from Santa Cruz to cater the appetizers for the party. And let me tell you, they were fabulous! She did an amazing job and our guests were raving all night long. That’s saying something because these people know their food. If you are in the Santa Cruz area and looking for a caterer for your party or you want a tasty recipe to cook for dinner, please check out Amber’s blog. http://recipeshmecipe.com/

Now enough with my babble about this weekend, here is the convention captured in images:

Some of the food presented at the party Friday night

Salmon Dip and our carved and garnished Smoked Turkey

More delicious appetizers

Meat people know how to party

Woo hoo! Accepting our awards! Congrats to our employees who made many of the products we won with AND they got to accept their own awards!

Two Reserve Grand Champions!

Our owner, David Dewey, upholding his title with a Grand Champion bone-in ham

Receiving our Excellence in Curing Award from Wayne Hall’s son Dale. It was a special night!We are so honored!!

This photo is near and dear to my heart. Two of the greatest experts in curing meat you will ever find. Who also happen to be good friends. 🙂 I love it.

Viewing of all the products entered into the competition

140 products total entered, so to win amongst all of the entries really shows you the quality of your products.

Our award winning bacon everyone knows and loves!

Well that’s all folks. We are ready for a normal week back at the shop and are going to need it to recover from this weekend! I have some exciting things coming up for this week. So stay tuned for Wordless Wednesday and Fun Meat Fact Friday! Also I’d like to thank all of you who took the time to read our feature on Meat Me’s blog. I am utterly blown away at the number of views we received. So thank you! To all of you for the support! Without all of you out there reading, I wouldn’t have this passion for sharing! Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend and let’s have a GREAT week!

Wordless Wednesday: Meat Me Feature

Well it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for… And hopefully some of you have as well! Remember this…?

Our feature on Meat Me was finally released yesterday! And we could not be more excited!! The feature is full of beautiful images as well as a wonderful narrative (which I worked hard on for two days, editing) about what it is that Chico Locker & Sausage really does. And how we started. A little glimpse into our day-to-day lives so to speak…

So if you are interested, and you have some time… We would love for you to check it out! Direct link can be found here: http://meatmeblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/meat-true-love-story-jenny-dewey.html

Again, I don’t think enough gratitude can be expressed to Sean and Laura for driving all the way up here and putting in a lot of hard work and dedication to share with the world what it is that we have been doing for 45 years. Helping us tell our story and share with people knowledge about the meat industry. He really is helping us reach more people than I could have ever dreamed so THANK YOU!

What Chipotle Doesn’t Tell You

There was no denying that Sunday night, most of America spent the evening watching the Grammys. In fact, the 2012 Grammys went down as the most watched since 1984. But I am not writing to hail the wonder that is Adele or to give a tribute to the late Whitney Houston. No, I am writing in response to Chipotle’s new marketing campaign video, Back to the Start, shown during the Grammys. If you happened to miss it, here it is:

A few months back this video was actually released via the Chipotle website and Facebook, but thanks to it’s showing during the Grammys, Chipotle’s marketing campaign was really brought to the forefront. And since then, it has caused quite an uproar in the Agricultural community. Why you ask?

Well although the video may seem light-hearted and gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, in all reality, it is bashing modern agriculture and presenting “facts” to consumers that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chipotle is banking on the fact that as a consumer, this video makes you feel warm and fuzzy but also makes you question or criticize modern agriculture, when it is possible you know nothing about it. After all, I’ve read a couple times that something like 2% of our entire population make up farmers and ranchers feeding the rest of the 98% of our population. This statistic tells me that the majority of people out there have never even stepped foot on a farm or a ranch. It also tells me that it is my job being part of the 2% in agriculture to educate the rest of the 98% on what it is that my family does and has done for the past 50 years and that we strive to produce a safe, quality product that you can put on your dinner table and nourish your family. And I guarantee you that all farmers and ranchers share that same goal with me. But rather than sit here and nit pick at Chipotle’s video and criticize it, I am going to take this time to provide you with resources and statements about agriculture that are factual and true, not based upon a light hearted cartoon with a celebrity singing the lyrics.

Fun Meat Fact #1: If you want to know how meat (or food) is produced or where your meat comes from, ask a farmer, rancher, or meat producer DIRECTLY, don’t rely on sources like documentaries such as Food, Inc. or Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. After all, farmers and ranchers are EXPERTS in the field and many have been practicing for generations and if you wanted information, who better to consult than an expert in the field?

Despite what Chipotle’s video may suggest, if you do the research, you will actually find that  according to MEAT Myth Crushers, Fun Meat Fact #2: ” Agriculture operations of any size can be managed in environmentally sound ways. But modern operations can benefit from sophisticated environmental controls.” A study conducted on modern beef production found that since 1977 advances in production practices resulted in:

  • 13 percent more beef
  • with 13 percent fewer animals
  •  uses 30 percent less land
  • and 20 percent less feed

This study conducted also yielded some interesting results versus grass fed and grain fed beef. Please check out the video and site for more information: http://www.meatmythcrushers.com/myths/myth-larger-modern-cattle-operations-today-have-a-greater-negative-environmental-impact-than-small-local-operations.html

But if you do even more research, you will find even more facts about modern agriculture. Explorebeef.org provides us with even more information suggestion that modern agriculture is indeed sustainable. And continues to strive to produce the best possible product they can for their consumers all while using less resources. In addition to the facts concluded by the study above it also finds that:

Today vs. 1977….

  • use 14% less water.
  • 85% of all land is not suitable for agricultural crops, but can be used to graze livestock.
  • A total of 2.8% of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to livestock production, compared to 26% from transportation.

So not only are we utilizing fewer resources to produce our beef, but we are also improving efficiency. Fun Meat Fact #3: In 1977, it took five animals to produce the same pounds beef that it takes four animals to produce today. According to an interview conducted by BEEF magazine of Dr. Jude Capper of Washington State University, Dr. Cappers tells us that: “Beef yield over that time has gone up fairly consistently,” she says, noting carcasses can’t keep getting bigger because of consumer acceptance and processing challenges. “What we can do is improve productivity, improve growth rate.”

For more information and to read the interview check out: http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/1014-modern-beef-production-green

So all it takes is a little research to find out that what Chipotle is trying to show us in their Back to the Start Video is not actually fact based and also presents a very skewed view of modern Agriculture. Now I would like to leave you with a video that does exactly the opposite. It indeed provides you with FACTS and FIGURES and shows you that indeed the Beef Industry is meeting today’s ever growing demand for beef while using less resources and producing that same quality, healthy, wholesome product.

If you are interested in what some other industry professionals say about the Chipotle ad, check out these reads:

Chipotle Demonizes Agriculture In Commercial On Grammy Telecast

Back to the Start- Chipotle Ad Draws Controversy

Chipotle Strikes a Nerve With Grammy Commercial

Food with Integrity Requires Marketing with Integrity

Chipotle Sparks Conversation

Chipotle Your Grammy Commercial Still Doesn’t Change My Mind

Also for more information about sustainable production of Beef check out these resources:

Agriculture Was Green Before Green Was Cool

Forage Quality and Efficiency

Conventional Beef Production is Eco-Friendly and Eco-Nomical

Raising Cattle for Beef Production Via ExploreBeef.org

Happy Friday Everyone! Today, I invite you to seek out a farmer or rancher. Get in contact with them. Ask them what you’ve been meaning to ask about food production. Share this article and the resources listed above. Let’s help to educate that 98% on what the 2% of us do to provide them with food and nourishment for their families and generations to come!

 

Wordless Wednesday: I Heart Beef

So today while attending the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA I learned about a campaign called I Heart Beef which kicks off in the month of February to coincide with Valentines Day and runs until June. This campaign aims to:

help strengthen interest in beef middle meats, cuts that have a proven return on investment for beef producers, by reminding consumers of their passion for great steaks like the T-bone and tenderloin. Not only that, but February is Heart Health Month.

So even if you missed out on beef for Valentines Day, there is still time to enjoy some delicious, heart healthy beef.
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And join the campaign for the rest of the month of February by sharing your favorite beef recipes! And include the tag I Heart Beef! Happy Wednesday everyone!

For more information on I Heart Beef, check out: http://www.beefboard.org/news/100120IHeartBeefRelease.asp