You may recall that a few weeks ago we excitedly announced a new line of organic salumi. Judging from what our customers have been saying, you guys were pretty excited also. Getting into the organic game required a great deal of research and work, and also the participation of one of our Farmer Partners in this endeavor, Jude Becker of Becker Lane Farms.
Jude’s family came here from Germany and established their farm in 1850, so they’ve been at it for a few generations. That’s part of what attracted us to them. Much like Oliviero learned his craft from his family, Jude learned about raising pigs from his. Jude understood that being successful at raising pigs didn’t mean that you couldn’t be ethical about it, and took Becker Lane down that path whole-heartedly in 2004.
Becker Lane Farms is our sole purveyor for a new line that we’ve introduced, and one that’s only available at Whole Foods: Gusto. Whole Foods is pretty particular about their products. As much as possible, they like for their products to reflect the region and growers in the area of each individual store. They’re also extremely exacting as to what is allowed in a product, with requirements about storage, ingredients, ethics and animal welfare, GMO labels, and much, much more. The farmers that provide products for Whole Foods have to meet a pretty heavy list of requirements.
Whole Foods works with the Global Animal Partnership to certify their suppliers’ animal welfare practices. What they use is called a “5-Step” rating system. Step 1 says no crates or cages. Step 2 asks for an enriched environment. This means things for chickens to peck at or cows to rub against. They want to stimulate the natural behaviors of the animals. 3 says that while your animals may have the benefit of a safe, indoor environment, they are given regular access to the great outdoors. Step 4 gives animals access to free pastures for roaming and foraging. And at Step 5 the farmer has demonstrated that his operation is all about the animals. Business and money comes second.
We’re somewhat of the belief that if you take care of those 5 steps, you will create a superior product, and your business will flourish, but that’s just us.
Jude started this journey in 1999 with six pigs. Today he normally has somewhere near 400 and is fully certified as a Step 3 farmer. He’s pretty darned close to getting his Step 4 certification, and with his mindset, it’s only a matter of time before he gets that Step 5. On his website, he says, “Every day, I stand in my pasture and see animals I know have been properly looked after, and I think to myself that this is humanity making food for us all.”
Jude is raising great pigs that we love turning into great organic cured meats. As long as he keeps doing this, he’ll certainly have our business.
Somewhat like our Olli Organic, Gusto is an organic salame available in three fabulous flavor profiles – Sopressata, Genoa, and Piccante. The Sopressata uses sea salt, garlic, and black and white pepper, with whole black peppercorns giving it a robust flavor. The Genoa is a mild salame, with just a bit of salt and white pepper. And the Piccante (one of our favorites!) is spicy with paprika and chili pepper. Somewhat like our Organic Chorizo, but with a bit of organic shiraz wine.
We’re pretty excited to be adding another new line of products, and we’ll keep adding newer ones as Oliviero continues tinkering in the curing rooms. In the meantime, check out an Olli Organic or hit your local Whole Foods and ask them for some Gusto.