Ultimate Meat Guide: Meet the Makers

Columbus Monthly Staff
Katherine Harrison of Harrison Farm

Three commercial pork industry veterans noticed a hole in the market when they couldn't find locally raised, quality pork. Luckily they knew a guy-third-generation farmer Jack Sommers-and in February 2013 they started Saddleberk Pork, raising all-natural Berkshire pork on Sommers' Urbana-area farm. "It's more tender than regular pork, and you get a little bit higher fat content," says co-founder Greg Lehman, who also co-owns Watershed Distillery. "It's a marbled pork chop. It looks more like a steak." Because Berkshire is more costly and time-consuming to produce than other types of pork, Saddleberk is more of a passion project than a money-maker for the founders, who all have day jobs as well. Says Lehman, "It's all done nights and weekends and anytime we can break free and tell the story."

Where:Kroger Marketplace locations and a handful of local restaurants, like Gallerie Bar & Bistro

"I am the fifth generation of my family to work this land. When I was growing up here, my grandfather ran what was a traditional farm for that era; he raised corn, wheat, soybeans, but his primary love was raising sheep. In my youth, I idolized him and spent as much time as I could following him around the barn.

My extended family has a slaughterhouse and I ran it for several years. A lot of people, in my experience, when they try goat, they like it. It's just getting over the mental block, because Americans don't think of goat as a primary protein. Goat meat is such a healthy meat because it's extremely rich in iron and low in fat for a red meat.

For me, I really see that circle of life. As humans, we are different creatures, just as every other species of animal is a different creature, and we all fit into the circle in a certain way. I will honestly say that I have a great deal of affection for my animals. I spend time in the barn with them, I assist the mothers to make sure the babies grow up well, and there's nothing cuter in this world than a baby goat. I'm very invested in the well-being of my animals, not only because of it's my responsibility as a farmer, but also because the joy I get from working with the animals. Being in the barn and seeing them do well is one of the paramount joys in my life."

Where:To purchase Harrison Farm meat, call Harrison at 614-271-0304.

Before they started Bluescreek Farm Meats in 1993, Cheryl and David Smith were dairy farmers. But they were ready for a change. Bluescreek-named for the creek that runs through their Marysville farm-began selling beef at their North Market stall and soon added lamb, pork, goat and veal. Bluescreek has always been committed to quality meat, says Jamie Johnson, Bluescreek's marketing manager and the Smiths' daughter. "The premise has always been no growth hormones or antibiotics," Johnson says. Bluescreek sold its products only direct to consumers until about 10 years ago, when they began selling to restaurants, too. "People are more aware of where their food comes from," Johnson

Where:Find Bluescreek Farm Meats at their stand in the North Market, as well as local restaurants including Alana's Food & Wine, Till Dynamic Fare, Skillet, Dan the Baker and The Table.

Forget what you think you know about grass-fed beef. Alex Chamberlain is out to change that perception. "A lot of people think it's tough and doesn't have a lot of fat," says the co-owner of Ohio Pasture Proud, a grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken purveyor that distributes to area groceries and restaurants. "But that's not the case. It just tastes like great beef. There's a lot of good fat."

Three years ago, the former marketer in the sustainable food industry teamed up with cattle farmer Phil Greenlee in Bidwell, Ohio, to form Ohio Pasture Proud, which offers ground beef, steaks and all cuts of chicken. They've since established a 60-head herd of Lowline heritage cattle-a small number by conventional standards.

"Their genetics are bred for converting grass to fat," Chamberlain says. This is the way cows should taste, she argues-full of good fat produced by a proper diet. Compare their grass-fed beef to grain-fed, and the marbling is every bit as beautiful, she adds, and just as tender. "That comes from good genetics and smart farming."

Where:Grocery stores, including The Hills Market, Huffman's Market and Weiland's Market