We personally visit the farmers who raise the pigs we buy and have worked closely with many of them to develop standards and protocols for the animals in their care. It is very important to us that all of the pork we use comes from suppliers who subscribe to humane practices. To us, this means:
- All pigs must have access to the out-of-doors, 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.
- 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.
- We use no pigs from CAFOs (large animal confinement facilities).
All of our suppliers adhere to these protocols. Some are also Certified Organic. We work especially closely with our smaller suppliers - B&B Farm, Becker Lane, Berkwood Farms, and Heritage Acres. It is not sustainable agriculture if they 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 pigs to make a reasonable profit, then how much to charge for the different parts we use. 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.
Here are some of the fantastic producers we are lucky to work with:
B&B Farms: Grinnell, IA
Suzanne Castello and Barney Bahrenfusen of B&B Farms farrow and raise purebred Berkshire pigs in lovely Grinnell, IA. For the last 2 years, they have pasture-raised the hogs for our Acorn Edition subscription program. Hogs included in this program are fed a diet consisting of at least 60% acorns for three months, in addition to wild forage and high-quality grains.
Becker Lane Organic Farm: Dyersville, IA
Jude Becker, sixth generation farmer, raises the pork for our Organic Green Label Prosciutto in northeast Iowa. He farrows and raises Berkshire/Chester white crosses according to the USDA Organic standards.
Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, Osage County, MO
We use heritage-breed Tamworth pork to make Tamworth Smoked Pancetta and Tamworth Prosciutto. The Tamworth pigs come from 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.
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.
This coalition of independent family farms raises the 100% Berkshire meat we use for our La Quercia Berkshire Prosciutto. It was founded by Kelly and Nina Biensen and is unusual in having purebred Berkshire pigs, rather than crossbreeds.
This Missouri-based farmer-owned company produces much of the pork for our Americano offerings. Heritage Acres prioritizes humane animal treatment and does not allow the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics and animal-by-products in feed.
Comprising over 650 independent farmers and ranchers, this iconic company is the other source of the pork for our Americano varietal. All Niman producers have agreed to follow standards of humane treatment, feed their animals strictly vegetarian diets, and never expose them to antibiotics or growth hormones.
This farmer-owned organic cooperative provides premium Berkshire-cross jowls for our Organic Green Label Guanciale.