We Only Serve White Meat Here

Diversification. Using the whole animal. Sourcing locally. Eating with the seasons.

All these were once part of the American culture and are now virtually non-existent. What would it take to bring them back?

Now we have:

Same old, same old. Disconnectedness. Parts and Pieces. No variety. No food seasons.

What else?

What can you visualize being the perfect fix to using the whole animal? What could you do to do your part?

When was the last time that you asked your farmer what was in plenty and then found a way to use that?

I wish I had a dime for every email that I receive from customers angry because we don’t have eggs right now. Or upset that we’re sold out of bacon – AGAIN. Is it haughtiness that drives them to ask this? No, I think its ignorance. Due to the year round, endless supplies in grocery stores, we’ve created generations of ignorant consumers. After all, what the customer wants, the customer gets, right?

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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22 Responses to We Only Serve White Meat Here

  1. alison says:

    Wow. I feel your pain, but at the same time I’m guilty of that exact same thing. I’ve never even thought of asking what my local farmers have in excess! (I’m a little afraid of what they would say!) 😉

    We deal with the same kind of customer complaints at our shop. If we sell out of 1 type of bread people give us heck for not making “enough”, not realizing that once we decide on a batch size, we mill the wheat, we soak the flour in a preferm overnight, and then spend hours the next day making it into bread. You’re absolutely right. Ignorance is the product of bread isles, and enldess supply of product at the fingertips of the consumers.

  2. What a great post. We are living in a generation in which we can get anything pretty easily, not just food. Technology has made our lives so convenient.
    Great idea though, I haven’t asked my farmer for what’s in excess, I’ll have to start asking. Thank you

  3. Rachel says:

    Very interesting! Here in Israel, produce is local and seasonal. Due to the warm climate, some things are available year round (tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, and peppers), and a lot, especially fruit, is not. I value the Polyface philosophy, but would have to take a VERY deep breath before giving up regular access to milk and eggs.

  4. Lack of knowledge is a big problem. I am guilty of wanting strawberries in January. But now I know better and try to plan and put up. I read somewhere once that it takes years to change the public opinion on an issue. We’ve got a long road to haul to get people educated and encourage them to change their habits. I will have to shock my farmers and ask what they have in abundance and purchase it. Well, maybe purchase it. I don’t eat tongue and offal at this point. Sorry.

  5. Kenny F says:

    Request: make me a less ignorant person by labeling the cuts of meat in the picture. (I’m not even sure which animal it is!)

  6. Stacey Smith says:

    As a gardener, I know when fruits and vegetables are in season. Except for bananas, pineapples, and citrus, I generally only buy fruit/veg items locally when ready.

    I DON’T know when certain animals are prepared. (Well, except for turkeys. That seems obvious.) How can I find out when to expect fresh beef, chicken, and pork?

    By the way, I’ve been buying from one of your former interns at J&L Green Farm up here in Shenandoah County!

  7. Jen says:

    Sheri, do you have layer pullets in the brooder right now? Based on the two year cycle for laying hens, I would think that 2009’s would be culled for stewing this past fall and that 2010s would be in the hoophouses but molting/taking their seasonal break. Am I on track with understanding the lack of eggs for retail?

  8. Amanda Reifsnyder says:

    I also will have to be slowly won over to tongue and offal, but I may get there; who knows! One thing I think would go a long way in assisting this change in the minds of consumers would be tools specifically aimed at helping them (me) take a fledgling knowledge of seasonal eating and using the whole animal, limited production and how to make use of surplus and move forward in tangible ways. A “re-writing every kitchen rule you’ve ever known” primer, if you will. My fantasy version of just such an item would have a cursory explanation of the principles, a break down of what is generally in season when, a basic rundown of food preservation (canning, freezing, root cellaring, etc.) and recipes BY SEASON!! That last bit would be a HUGE help! I often want to cook more seasonally, but only have a handful of recipes dedicated to a specific season’s bounty, so then I fall back on my recipes that know no season (handed down from other family members who can bake a mean chicken breast, but had no clue that beef should be the meat of choice come winter time). It’s pitiful to beg knowledge from those who are working so hard to grow the food in the first place, but honestly, I’ve yet to find any other guides. And I want to know! I want to change! I want to be part of the solution! And I’m a consumer, so I want those things now! (just kidding on that last bit, by the way!) =)

    Happy day.

    • Amanda Reifsnyder says:

      Oh, and sorry you’re catching flak from ignorant folks. That’s not fun at all. Good for you for turning that into an opportunity to “educate”! Hope people get a clue and start being nicer!

  9. Margaret Schaefer says:

    We have a on-line food Co-op here in Nebraska, and the first year we joined, I discovered that I couldn’t order chickens in the winter. I learned pretty quick to keep enough in the freezer or do without. Last summer real eggs were in demand in our area, so I learned to get to the farmers market by 8:00 am, or get my co-op order in early. There is a learning curve for those of us who are staying out of supermarkets.

  10. Amy says:

    When we process a steer, hog or lamb, we get everything. Oxtail makes great ragout or soup stock, shanks are great braised and served with potatoes, tongue is even good, cooked with plenty of spices and made into tacos. All the scraps are ground up into sausage or burger. Everything is usable. I think a big part of it is the willingness to step outside your comfort zone and eat something that you wouldn’t have thought of eating before. You might just like it and it expands your culinary abilities!

  11. Michele says:

    Great post.
    One book I enjoyed that addresses the “seasonality” of food is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I suspect however, that many of your readers have already read it.
    If not, consider it a very basic “primer” of what it means to eat seasonally, at least regarding the constraints of VERY local (home garden) production.
    Even has How-To’s: recipies are given throughout.

  12. PeterPansDad says:

    We are butchering a couple of hogs for our own use this weekend. I have a friend who wants the chitterlings, my dog loves the trotters but it’s hard to use the head. Yes, I know the old timers had no problem with it but I’m not an old timer. I’m just not sure I’m up to head cheese yet.

  13. Marci says:

    It is amazing what people thing these days. I have a brother that won’t eat the eggs from our farm. His words are they come out of our chicken’s butts. I asked where did his eggs come from… the store. Where did they get it… As long as he doesn’t know, he is fine. Sad, sad, sad.

    I will say you threw me off today. I know you, Sheri are the Friday chick on here. I saw your name and thought I lost a day somewhere.

    • Elisa says:

      Love your comment! We grow pastured poultry, primarily egg layers and we have a family member that said the same thing! I just can’t believe it!

  14. Lisa Carrelli-Kraus says:

    Great article! You haven’t experienced true appreciation for a thing till that first strawberry of the season or that first batch of wild ramp soup:) We’re 18c living history buffs, so the concept of eating seasonally is nothing new for us, but something we strive to improve upon with every passing season. Being an artist I have a unique opportunity to truely use every part of an animal… bones and feathers get turned into jewelry, horn into containers, antler into cutlery handles, wool spun into yarn, hides tanned, etc. We smoke, can or dry everything we can and try to keep freezing to a minimum. Lard or tallow is rendered and used in cooking, on leather and made into soap. Casings are cleaned for sausage and parchment, and yes head cheese, organ meat and tongue are all part of our table. Blood is even composted. Currently I’m visiting California and one of the most exciting part of my trip is indulging in local and seasonal food not currently available at home:)

  15. Kelly Albright says:

    PeterPansDad, you might look to the european community during this time of year. I work with a man from Latvia and he just told me last week how they eat the entire head on a platter for the holiday meal. Basically everyone takes pieces from the head, ear, jowl, etc. and eats on it during the meal. Just a thought!

  16. Sheryl lebman says:

    The part of this chapter that fascinated me was the travelling. We have a no chain rule,and stop at a lot of town center cafes when we travel. It slows us down, but we usually aren’t going very fast.

  17. Martha Androsian says:

    Totally new to your site. I’ve enjoyed the two books by Joel that I’ve read. Thanks for this site. God Bless.

  18. Stephanie says:

    I realize you guys were here days or weeks ago, but i just found you and am currently reading Joel’s great book, so I’m jumping in here.
    I come from Austrian heritage (my mom was born there and all her relatives are there). I know from my uncle that he uses all the parts of the animal on his farm. But being an American, mostly raised here, I have such a hard time thinking about acting organs or other parts. Turns my stomach, really, and I consider myself open minded and am an aspiring, one day farmer. It shows me how far we have come in this country from just even 150 years ago. These concepts were not foreign to the pioneers or farmers. And it makes me almost angry that we’ve lost our connection to our food so quickly– that we’re raising generations of kids that don’t know the sources of anything. We have seven kids and I try very hard to make sure they know food does not regenerate on grocery store shelves. I take them to farmer’s markets and farms and orchards. But I still feel like a hypocrite when my mind and body revolt when it comes to the thought of using everything on an animal. I also have a phobia of bugs ( just certain nasty kinds, but I don’t like bugs in general), and am really hoping I can just get over all that when we have our farm!

  19. Rob Thain says:

    Folks This Ain’t Normal, you can say that again !!!!
    We have just found out that, here in France, more and more slaughter houses are turning 100% Halal. Not for religious reasons, but for financial ones. The law states all animals have to be stunned before ‘transforming’ (that’s cutting up to you and me) However there is a religious loophole so Halal meat does not need to be stunned, they just cut its throat, viens, windpipe and all. So its a lot cheaper and all the meat ‘can’ be sold as Halal.(7% of the population in France.) Even though most of the meat is not marked as Halal.
    This first started to become apparent with out breaks of E-Coli , and the death of children. When the wind pipe is cut there can be a return from the stomach and the stomach bacteria can infect the meat.

    In the Paris region ALL slaughter houses are like this, you have no choice.

    When it comes to cutting costs , any reason/excuse is a good one.


  20. Bob says:

    This is good stuff! I love it. I was raised eating seasonally, so nothing new. Vegetables came in cans, oranges rarely, and wild fish and game fresh or out of the freezer. I love everything – liver, tongue, gizzards. Our rule: if you’re genuinely hungry, you’ll eat it. If you’re not hungry, that’s okay.
    Is your bacon considered organic and/or grass-fed?