Heritage Meat to Market
It has been a very interesting journey building a ranch that focuses on Heritage Meat. There have been many rewards and challenges. Our biggest reward is the fact that we are doing something in a sustainable manner that is actually preserving the integrity of genetic diversity in the livestock breeds that remain on our planet. To this end, we are proud and happy to say that are animals from every indication and action that they share are also very happy about the situation. Granted they have "one bad day," so says my husband the Swine Manager, but they truly live very long healthy and happy lives compared to commercial breeds : grazing in the field, gleaning the fruit and playing in the pasture.
Heritage meat is unique and has been scientifically analyzed at several universities to be very healthy for us to eat in regards to various amino acid concentrations that are highly beneficial to brain health and a proper immune system. The taste is also incredible and we have a good clientele to substantiate that fact, but the challenge of getting this great tasting meat to market is a big one.
Many of our clients just tell us to start selling it at the farmers markets, but even that process is daunting. Each state, county and organization have their own rules that one must abide. The biggest challenge for a small ranch that specializes in pasture raised meat is to get the animals to a USDA facility . While this may sound easy enough, we quickly discovered that there are very few USDA facilities available in Norhtern Calirofnia, for that matter there are very few facilities avaiable to small ranchers no matter where they may be located.
Our ranch is a bit lucky to have facilities that are within a fair distance to make it work. I am always concerned about the USDA facility. Our pigs, sheep and chickens have lived a beautiful life and to take them into that facility is not the most desirable, but for right now it is the law of the land and in order for us to meet the needs of our customers, give attention to the growth and propogation of the heritage breeds, this is the only method. Maybe in the future their will be more mobile USDA dispatch units that can help small ranchers and help the community access the goodness of fresh local heritage meat.
For right now, we will be on the road at 4;30 am tomorrow morning, taking our beautiful Tamworth pigs to USDA. Ill try to right a bit more about the experience tomorrow and share what I can to help other Heritage Meat Farms and Ranches across the country.