Better meat makes better cured meat, and better meat relies on humane husbandry.
Over the last decade+ of our business, we have worked to support the kinds of farm systems and animal husbandry practices that we believe in. This has meant working closely with the farmers who raise the pigs we buy to develop standards and protocols for the animals in their care.
We are proud to purchase a majority of our pork from farmers whose husbandry has been third party audited by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5 Step Program. 75% of the pork we currently purchase has been certified by GAP and 53% has been rated Step 3 (Pasture Assisted) or higher.
All of our suppliers adhere to the following protocol:
- No crates or cages - all pigs must have room to move around and socially congregate and be able to root in deep bedding. This respects the pigs’ social instincts and natural behaviors.
- No pigs from CAFOs (large animal confinement facilities).
- Pigs must not receive non-therapeutic antibiotics, ionophores, hormones, or synthetic hormones. Our farmers can treat illnesses, but they do not use hormones or antibiotics to artificially promote growth.
- Pigs may not be fed animal byproducts, which helps avoid numerous health and environmental problems.
Here are some of the fantastic producers we are lucky to work with:
Heritage Foods Farms, Osage County, MO
This Missouri-based farmer-owned company is our primary supplier for our Americano line meats and produces pork according to these demanding standards. We will soon be offering cured meats made with Heritage Berkshire pork that is verified Pasture Assisted (Global Animal Partnership Step 3) and fed only Non-GMO Project verified feed.
The heritage-breed Tamworth pork we use to make Tamworth Smoked Pancetta and Tamworth Prosciutto also comes from Heritage Food Farms. Four farms in Osage County, Missouri (Russ Kremer, Glenn Backes, Mike Buscher, and Bob Street) raise their animals in pasture-based systems, using the hillsides of the Ozark Mountains. Their animal husbandry is outstanding and meets the Step 3 standards of the Global Animal Partnership.
Russ Kremer raises our Acorn Tamworth hogs. For the last three-four months of their lives, these pigs forage freely in a fruiting oak and hickory forest. An estimated 60-75% of their diet consists of acorn and hickory nuts. This gives Russ an sustainable way to make use of the wooded hillsides on his property, the pigs a happy life, and their meat an incredible depth and richness. Russ' program is rated Step 4 by the Global Animal Partnership.
The verified Pasture Raised pork (Global Animal Partnership Step 4) for our Ridgetop and Wood Run Prosciutto is raised by American Pasture Pork, a group of family farms in Missouri and Kentucky. We've worked with Jack Whisnant and his family since 2014, building our collaboration steadily. These pigs are pasture raised outdoors on wooded ridgetops & hillsides. They roam freely and engage in the activities that make for happy pigs: foraging, rooting, and wallowing.
Curly Oak is a partnership between Herb Eckhouse and Ken Kehrli, a prominent heritage breed developer and producer in Northeast Iowa. Ken raises our Cinta hogs - the only herd of these hogs in the US.
The purebread Iberico pork that we use for our Iberico Americano line is raised in Bluffington, GA through a partnership between Will Harris ( White Oak Pastures, GA) and the Oriol Family (Cobacha Farm, Alburquerque, Spain). The pigs live their entire lives at Iberian Pastures, forage on pecans and peanuts, and are pasture raised in accordance with Certified Humane™ standards, with no use of antibiotics or GMO feed.
Read more about this partnership HERE.
It is not sustainable agriculture if your farmers go out of business, so instead of commodity market-based pricing, we work on a negotiated, "fair trade" style price. The farmers determine how much they need to be paid for their meat. That's what we pay. Swings in the commodity market can be ruinous, especially for smaller growers; this way, we work with farmers and farmer-owned marketing companies to insulate the farmers from these risks.