It’s Here: Pepperoni

We received our batch of pepperoni from the charcuterie shop this afternoon.  This is a custom recipe featuring 100% Wrong Direction Farm pork.  If I were to describe the eating experience, I’d say it starts with the salty/sour pork base, then layers on the aromatics, and finishes off with a flash of red and black pepper.

Sure, you can buy Applegate pepperoni (owned by Hormel, the folks who are so committed to healthy foods that they also produce Spam) and maybe find it a little cheaper pound per pound, but this product is something different.  And something better.  This is from pigs raised on our farm with care and attention, processed in a butcher shop where the employees are known and valued, so they take good care of our animals even through the one brief bad moment in their lives, and then cured into pepperoni by an extraordinarily meticulous group of salami craftspeople.

I’m not sure how to best emphasize this, but what separates this pepperoni from any mass-market natural pepperoni is at the heart of what we hope to achieve at Wrong Direction Farm.  Through each step of the process, the animals that become the pepperoni and the people who make it happen are all treated with respect, individuality, and dignity.  We could discuss the impacts on animals and land, but the aspect that stands out most to me presently is the impact on the people.  Once a product is produced in the volume required to appear on the shelf at Shop Rite or Whole Foods, or in the box from Amazon or Blue Apron, there is no way that it can be produced with the same level of care.  The food itself may remain objectively wholesome, but these systems depend on interchangeable and easily replaceable people doing the farming and meat processing.  Industrial food must have people specialized into tasks that can be done by rote for the least cost.  Once the process can be automated, the people performing those jobs will be dispensed with.  Until then, they are paid the least possible amount.  On our farm and in our family, we want to find ways to appreciate people, to show them respect, and to reward them for a job well done.  We want to increase human involvement, to create opportunities for people to take an interest in their daily activities, and to find satisfaction in their lives.

Can you taste integrity?  I hope so…

Pepperoni Pizza

The kids celebrated the occasion by making pepperoni pizza (of course!).

3 Comments on “It’s Here: Pepperoni

  1. What a wonderful post! It made me so happy to read this. Thank You !!
    From a huge…
    Pepperoni lover

  2. This recent study from Stone Barns left me thinking the exact same thing as the thrust of your blogpost. – I’m sure nothing in it is news to you Dave, but for your blog followers, the chapters on economics of grass-fed beef are fascinating. They drew up four case studies of extant grass-fed programs and added in one more hypothetical US based grass-fed beef program producing 10,000 head per year. There are currently 0 US grass-fed beef farms that big. They propose that at that scale the vertically integrated monster CAFO feedlot-slaughterhouses of the plains would not have significant scale or distribution efficiency advantages.

    I spent a few minutes fantasizing about what it would be like to own/manage a farm of such massive scale and promptly rejected it as something I want no part of. I kept circling back in my mind to the fact that the low cost per lb of product the biggest slaughterhouses attain comes at a high human price in repetitive motion injuries, mindless work spent doing the same single cut day after day, and other abuses. There are a number of potential hang-ups for me, but the biggest is I’d feel too terrible about being part and parcel of a system that exploits its labor so egregiously.

    • It seems like I started reading the Stone Barns document but I must have been interrupted without getting too far. Or maybe there was an overview in a recent edition of Graze or Stockman. Whatever the case, I’ll definitely go back and read it thoroughly. Thanks for the link.

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