This post is from a facebook live we did this last week. you can find it on our facebook page if you would like to watch it.
I had a few people privately reach out with feed back and I want to publicly answer some of the common questions.
Q: Some times my cuts are not cut great.
A: We do not, nor are we allowed to do any of our own cutting. We have to use a licensed, inspected butcher. Most butcher shops that are inspected will not work with small producers like us and only work for mass producers (feedlots). Those that will work with small farms are in high demand because of their scarcity. Most of them we have to schedule months in advance because they are booked up! That means that we have very few options and cant just say “hey if you don’t do better ill go somewhere else”. We have been lucky that the two butchers we use have been good to work with, for the most part. If you have an issue please take a picture that we can show them and help them understand what wasn’t right. And so that we can work on not having the issue repeat. One example is some one got some New York steaks that were thick on one side and thin on the other. I took the picture to the butcher and he explained that that was the end of the loin and that he didnt want to put good steak into ground beef. Now he takes the two end pieces and marks them and we dont sell them.
Q: Your labels are for Tooele valley meats and C&S meats. Why are your names not on there.
A: Tooele Valley and C&S are the two butchers we use. They are small mom and pop shops. Both are family owned with three generations working together and they only butcher one animal at a time so we know we are getting our meat back. To get our own labels we would have to apply for each label (each cut, each flavor ect) to the USDA and they would have to approve everything on them. From the font, to the wording, everything. If something isn’t right they send it back and say its wrong but not what it wrong. That you have to guess and try again. Once you finally get it right you have to choose from a handful of approved packaging/label providers and order your labels. These have to be done in the thousands. This is a very time intensive and financially exhaustive process. Our butchers allow us to use their labels (we are working on adding a sticker that says butchered for Henson Heritage Farm and we think that will be approved and we can print them ourselves and the butcher will put it on the packages separate from their label) again this is a way to keep our prices down.
Q: I’m not comfortable with some of the ingredients, like dextrose, in some of your sausages and it makes me question your credibility.
A: like labels (see question above) getting recipes approved takes a lot of time. We cant just mix it in the kitchen at the farm. We have some that we would love to offer with better ingredients. The process is not always strait forward. You have to creat the recipe, figure out percentages, and then send it in to get approved by a usda Inspecter. Once that is done you create the label and then send that into USDA in Washington to get approved. Our bacon was approved for wholesale. A new inspector came in, didnt like the label, and said it needed to be redone. Again you dont get told what’s wrong just to fix it. We have had it sent back to Washington 6 times and it is still pending. Each time they can take months to reply. So we are working on new recipes but in the mean time we can only use what is already approved. On this point: we realize that many if not most of our customers are part of the holistic community, BUT, not every one is in the same place on their holistic journey. Out of the over 100 meat products we offer only the sausage and bacon have any other ingredients. If these are not something you want to feed your family we offer pork belly to make your own bacon as well as plain ground sausage to make your own sausages. There are other products on the market that do offer sausage with out dextrose, however the commercial products that offer it often are not all meat products and contain “scraps” or our from industrial farms from animals not raised as ours are. We are working on providing the best product we can. And are always striving to better the products we have. But it takes time!
Q: some of your products from other businesses are not things we like. And again make us question your practices.
A: Many of the products that we offer, either seasonally or year round, are from other small family producers that are located close to us. We know how hard it is to make it as a small farm or producer and with heavy winters we do not have year round farmers markets where we live. The products we carry are because customers have asked us to deliver them with their meat orders and as we are already out and about it helps other family businesses be able to get their products to people year round. While not all of them are products that you may love they are all made with love and it gives us the opportunity to talk to these producers and give them ideas on products that they could expand on as more people ask. Jams with no corn syrup and organic bread. Again not every one is on thee same natural path and we want to provide all of our customers with products that they are interested in and use these opportunities to talk to customers and producers about natural ingredients.
6 years ago we lived a mile from Disney Land. At that time we had no idea what all went into producing a pound of sausage. We have spend hours pouring over books, on the phone with other natural farmers, taking classes on meat cutting to understand where each piece comes from, talking to USDA Inspectors, attending conferences with people like the Salitans, trying to make the best decision for our farm. We do it for our family. We do it for your family. We are not perfect. We are still learning. We value your feedback. And we hope that knowing us, knowing how we farm and why we farm will be what you base our credibility on.