What We’re About
We believe the food we eat can delight us each day. We strive to offer a memorable eating experience - one that causes you to stop and savor the moment.
Great food is more than great taste. It is healthful, nutritious, and pleasurable. Great food satisfies the senses and the body, the emotions and the mind. It is part of a responsible food system that sustains you, the producers, and the craftspeople, restaurants, and stores who support their communities and respect the environment.
careful adherence to the best of tradition, and the judicious use of modern tools.
We started La Quercia to create premium quality American prosciutto, then applied what we learned to other cuts of pork. Our appreciation for cured meats grew out of the three and a half years we lived in Parma, Italy, prosciutto's area of origin, where we saw how the careful treatment of fine materials resulted in an accessible, sublime and entirely regional cuisine. Our ambition to create our own prosciutto came from our desire to take the bounty that surrounds us in Iowa to its highest expression. We seek to contribute to the growth of premium artisan-made American foods by offering unique dry cured meats of the finest quality.
La Quercia (pronounced La Kwair-cha ) means the Oak in Italian.
The Oak is a traditional symbol of the province of Parma, our home for three and a half years, and, through its acorns, has been associated with the production of premium dry cured ham for millennia. It is also the state tree of Iowa.
We are always working to make our operations and activities more sustainable and decrease our carbon footprint.
- First and foremost, our pork comes from sustainable producers who treat their animals and their land responsibly. There’s a lot to say about this, and you can read about our standards and the farmers who help us meet them in great detail here.
- Second, we buy our raw material, the pork, right here where the pigs are. We focus our meat supply, so that the vast majority of our meat comes from slaughter houses within 200 miles of our prosciuttificio. Most of the pigs are raised within that radius also. The way we see it, it makes more sense to send cured, rather than raw, Iowa meat to the coasts. We take locally-produced meat, trim it, cure it (taking out most of the water weight) and then ship it out.
- We use organic spices whenever possible. Oregon Spice Company has rigorous safety controls to ensure the purity and integrity of their spices.
- We use sea salt from the United States.
Design and Equipment
- When we opened Prosciuttificio La Quercia in February 2005, we built it with energy efficient materials and used the latest, "greenest" refrigerant. The new curing space we added in 2009 incorporates high density, non-ozone depleting polyurethane foam; Freon R404A; heat recovery from the refrigeration compressors to provide most of the heating, and computer optimized compressors to minimize horsepower on-line.
- We've landscaped using low maintenance prairie grasses, native flowers and oak trees. See Kathy's post--"Oak Savannah" for more information. Like all gardens, it’s a work in process and sometimes things move slowly, but it’s already evident that we are providing habitat for a great variety of birds and insects.
- We've installed high efficiency fluorescent lighting and on-demand hot water heaters to cut down on electricity and gas use.
- We added our first packaging made from plant sources for our Iowa White Spread. Made from corn or other biologically sourced sugars, the tubs are biodegradable. Learn more here.
- We use Eco-tite shrink bags that their manufacturer Curwood says use less energy, less material, cut CO2 emissions, cut transportation fuel use because they are lighter, and produce less wastewater. Learn more here.
- We made choices with the packaging for our sliced meats to reduce waste. We use:
- Lighter plastic films to avoid putting more plastic in landfills.
- Recyclable paper sleeves over our pre-sliced packs, rather than a heavy plastic tray.
- Biodegradable, compostable interleaving.
- Eco-Tite bags that are made with recycled material.
- We use unbleached boxes with a minimum of 90% recycled content. Boxes are pre-printed or stamped to eliminate unnecessary stickers.
Sustainability is also about the people--this is one of the themes that Kathy has been very strong on, and we were pleased to see that it was highlighted at Slow Food Nation in 2009.
- We participate with a "co-employment" company that enables us to offer health benefits. We want to provide a work environment that is fair and productive to everyone involved.
- We buy our meat on a sustainability basis--it is not sustainable agriculture if our suppliers go out of business. So we work with them on a cost-plus basis, independent of pork commodity prices.