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This is a middle-meat culture and our national eating habits have created a conundrum for small sustainable livestock farms like ours. With pork for example, we get calls all the time for bacon and pork chops (the middle-meats). Restaurants, food stores, people of all kinds, want to buy a disproportionate amount of those cuts. The question we’re always left with is who will buy the remaining 70% of the animal.

 

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Most people have a sense that there’s a lot more to a pig than bacon and chops, but the industrial food system, with all its side chutes and back doors, doesn’t stimulate any thought about what happens to the rest of those muscles. For the industrial food system and by extension the consumer, it is out of mouth, out of mind when it comes to the rest of the pig.

The food industry doesn’t give anyone the sense that there could ever be a shortage of pork loin and a surplus of ham. It’s a perennial issue for us since, unlike the industrial food system, we don’t have national or international markets to help consume the less-loved but distinctly underrated end-cuts. That is why we are announcing our Cheek to Cheek campaign.

Our Cheek to Cheek campaign encourages local meat eaters to think about eating pork, or any animal protein for that matter, in proportion to the way it is arranged on the animal. When we eat pork, we are not consuming the cuts proportionately. We are used to routinely eating high on the hog, preferring loin cuts to everything else.

By eating this way, we are missing out on some of the tastier parts of the pig. For instance, shoulder meat and ham have a more robust flavor than most of the middle-meats. Additionally, the center-cuts are usually more expensive than the less popular end-cuts. Eating “Cheek to Cheek” may require a food renaissance of sorts, but the flavor benefits and monetary savings alone make it a worthwhile endeavor. There’s also the satisfaction of reviving a kind of meat literacy and cultural awareness as we re-discover the many culinary traditions that make exquisite use of the whole animal.

Eating meat proportionately may seem like a trivial matter compared to the fact that most Americans are eating too much meat to begin with. Our simple advice for eating sustainably, is to eat less meat, but to eat it more thoughtfully. Eat a wide variety of cuts that come from animals raised on socially-responsible farms. Our suggestion for eating meat sustainably is that it shouldn’t be consumed absentmindedly but with awareness and gratitude, savoring the full flavor of sustainability--from Cheek to Cheek.