Just as tomatoes and strawberries are best in the summer, so too do our animal chums have their own seasons, and being tuned in helps teach us respect for the natural order of things — the miracle of Earth orbiting the Sun and giving us the joys of spring, summer, winter, and fall. These days it’s not so obvious, in the supermarket, anyway, because all meat is available all the time. But when naturally bred animals are ready for slaughter, in season, that is Earth speaking to us.
Eating meat at its naturally most robust, ready-for-market time of year is part of our covenant as responsible, sustainable, thoughtful, spiritually sound human beings, and it’s humbling in a way that makes us all feel part of something much bigger than us.
And when the season strikes, buy these animals in bulk and freeze what you don’t eat fresh — to embrace livestock by season means more than just laying out a single lavish holiday meal. You can make it your fashionable protein for weeks. Think sandwiches, and then meat for chili or ragù for your pasta. Almost any animal, including lamb and turkey, makes a great burger!
The Projects of Heritage Foods USA coordinate with the natural cycles of animal agriculture. Pigs and chickens and cattle breed year round and are available on our site for sale always. Other animals like GOATS, TURKEYS, DUCK&GEESE and LAMB are seasonal and our Projects revolve around the time when they are naturally ready for harvest.
For the past decade Heritage Foods USA has partnered with farmers who raise the Tunis, Katahdin and Dorset Horned breeds. In addition, we bring in smaller amount of Navajo Churro and Icelandic breeds.
Many of the country’s best lamb farms are not at the level yet where they can break up those animals into pieces and still keep their business viable. Buying a twenty-pound half lamb, butchered to your specs, is the only way to eat the elite at this point in time, and the best way to help the farmer. Still Heritage has partnered with some farmers to also sell delicious heritage breeds in cuts.
Visit our website every March and April to see what’s for sale! Half lamb are always available at this time and are the best way to help the farmer while also tasting all the cuts that a lamb can produce, nose to tail.
The Tunis sheep is amongst the oldest breeds of livestock in America and was developed in 1799 from a cross between a Middle Eastern fat-tailed sheep from Tunisia and local American sheep. Tomas Jefferson is said to have loved this sheep and many generations of the breed once lived on the White House grounds.
It is said that Maynard Spigener (1849-1913) is responsible for having saved the Tunis breed in the United States from extinction during the Civil War. Spigener hid 30 head of pure-bred Tunis lamb in the swamps near a river that runs near Columbia, South Carolina. After the war, Spigener sold ten head of his sheep to James A. Guilliams who entered the Tunis in the Crawford Indiana County Fair where the stock was awarded for its meat, wool and breeding qualities.
The flavor of the Tunis is subtle, lean, woodsy and rootsy, smooth, silky, herbaceous and minerally with notes of buttermilk. It is not lamby or pungent, has a bouncy texture and tastes seasoned even without seasoning.
The Katahdin sheep is the result of the innovative thinking of a Maine farmer named Michael Piel. In the 1950's, Piel brought three sheep from St. Croix in the Caribbean to his farm. He crossed these "African hair sheep," as they were known, with his own flock of "Down" breeds (more typical wooly meat sheep found in New England), producing a lambs he called Katahdin after the highest mountain in Maine. The Katahdin does not need to be sheared and produces a well-muscled, lean but meaty carcass. The Katahdin lamb is a meat breed and not a wool breed, making it especially flavorful and delicious with nutty, full flavor.
The flavor of the Katahdin is savory, mushroomy, with hints of honey, spicy and peppery, barky and woody with undertones of clover and creamy fat.
Dorset Horn sheep were imported into the United States about 1860, though the breed did not appear in large numbers until the 1880s. The Continental Dorset Club was organized in 1890. The Dorset is an ancient breed likely developed from white faced, horned, short wooled sheep that thrived in the sheltered valleys and lush hill pastures of southwestern England.
America’s first domestic sheep were small, rugged Churro sheep from Spain, brought by Francisco Coronado in 1540 and Don Juan de Onate in 1598. Sheep were used as a source of meat for the explorers and for the missionaries who followed and established a chain of missions throughout the region that is now Mexico and the southwestern United States. During the "Golden Age" of the southwestern sheep industry (1788–1846), master weavers from Mexico promoted their skills, and the trade in textiles and livestock was significant. In 1807, Zebulon Pike reported that a single flock of Spanish sheep could number 20,000. The Navajo-Churro sheep is a hardy breed, adapted to the adverse conditions found in hot, dry deserts and sub-zero climates. – ALBC-USA.org
In 2010 Heritage Foods USA opened the Heritage Meat Shop in New York’s historic Essex Street Market. The market was opened in the early 20th century by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in an effort to get the push cart vendors off the streets of New York. Years later the market on the Lower East Side fell into disrepair but in the early 2000s, led by a new breed of vendors like Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers, the market turned into a destination again like it once was. Today about 30 vendors are open for business and the Essex Market, located on the corner of Delancey and Essex streets, is the best spot in New York for cheese, meat and chocolate.
The Heritage Meat Shop butchers butcher only rare and heritage breed whole carcasses of cattle and pig each and every week. They also feature delicious salamis from the exclusive supply of Armandino Batali in Seattle as well as cured ham from S. Wallace Edwards and Sons and Nancy Newsome. The bacon comes from Al Benton and Paradise Locker Meats. In addition to these delicious meats you can find Goat, Lamb, Turkey, Ducks and Geese in their season. The head butchers at Essex Market are Emile Frohlich and Dionisio Silva. They can be reached for custom cutting at 212-539-1111.
Since Heritage Foods USA started we have seen fads melt and trends rise and fall. We’ve seen the food world morph into fashion, where sizzle rules the day no matter where the steak came from.
But the spate of fancy events and color photographs and chef competition shows on television has done little to help American independent farmers sleep at night—or to improve the chances that our planet might survive the current onslaught of corporate farming and the looming realities of climate change. We are drowning in recipes and food porn—when it comes to the real issues that concern our farmers and the health of America’s food supply, the food media is failing. It isn’t much more than a beauty pageant.
The revolution needed a voice, something to punch through this insipid wall of tawdry, feel-good fluff—so in 2009, largely inspired by Carlo Petrini’s 1975 pirate station in Italy, Radio Bra Onde Rosse, we began the Heritage Radio Network, an Internet-based radio station out behind Roberta’s restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Carlo rescued an old military surplus transmitter to start his station; we built ours out of a couple of recycled shipping containers and put a garden on the roof. Chris Parachini, Brandon Hoy, and Carlo Mirachi had opened Roberta’s a few months earlier, and were at the vanguard of a new generation of restaurant at once cool and sustainable. Roberta’s was unlike any other in America — the restaurant itself was built by the owners themselves out of an old auto body shop with rescued and recycled materials, in an industrial district that nearly burned to the ground during the great blackout of 1977. Now it is very much at the hub of a fantastic new food movement, and the food that comes out of the pizza station and kitchen is delicious.
Heritage Radio now reaches millions of listeners a month. At the core of the station are thirty fantastic weekly shows—hosted by a diverse group of chefs, authors, visionaries, lunatics, journalists, historians, and hedonists — about food technology, beer, cheese, food history, politics, and cocktails, to name just a few of the myriad, plus a few outlier shows covering alternative music, arts, and pop culture. The station started as something of a clubhouse for subversive foodies but has grown into a legitimate media outlet—we are a source for hard news and opinion, a beacon for like-minded progressives who do not view food as simply fodder for the style section.
Visit HeritageRadioNetwork.org everyday for news stories that change on a daily basis.
In October farms all over the world are exploding—this is harvest season, when the spring’s efforts are ready for the table and it’s time for us to fatten up for the winter. But at Heritage we’re most excited about October’s bounty of goats — in fact, we call it Goatober.
Goat is consumed in more places on the planet than any other livestock, with wonderful recipes and traditions representing a mosaic of cultures.
Goats naturally mate in the fall, and they reproduce easily, usually birthing twins in spring. When fall comes, you either eat them, especially the males that do not produce milk, or you’ll have to get them sleeping bags to get through the chilly evenings. They’ve spent their summers munching on green grass and by early fall they are at their peak, before they get too old, tough, and gamey.
No Goat Left Behind is an annual project launched in 2011 designed to introduce goat meat to American diners and develop a sustainable end market to support farmers in the Northeast. We are proud to partner with 14 New York State and Vermont family farms to sell hundreds of goats to restaurants and home consumers every October. They are all processed at Eagle Bridge Custom Meats. For a list of available cuts please visit our website every Fall. For a list of restaurants check out the Heritage Foods USA restaurant list at the beginning of October!
The flavor of goat is delicate and grassy. All our goats are pasture-raised animals with no growth hormones or antibiotics. The five breeds represented each year include: Oberhasli, a dairy breed developed in the mountainous regions of Switzerland Nubian of mixed Asian, African and European origin, known for high butterfat milk production; Saanen, which surpass all the other breeds in production of milk and butterfat; Boer, which were selected for meat production and originally hail from South Africa; and Kiko, which are recognized for greater parasite resistance and good meat yield.
For more information on No Goat Left Behind call us at 718-389-0985.
In November, don’t be a turkey, eat one! Left to their own instincts, turkeys do it in the late winter and early spring and are ready for harvest in twenty-four weeks, which conveniently turns out to be Thanksgiving, when as a species, they want to be eaten. And that is why the tradition exists. But don’t leave it there—you could be eating turkey sandwiches and beautiful turkey breasts and drumsticks right through till Christmas, and don’t forget the ground turkey for burgers or chili! Today, of course, turkey sandwiches are everywhere all year round, but nature pushed hard to put that bird on the Pilgrims’ table. If you are eating a fresh turkey in July, well, you can bet that turkey was not the product of a satisfying sexual experience—there wasn’t a tom anywhere near a female when that bird was conceived.
Every August for the past ten years Heritage Foods USA has had the great honor of announcing the arrival of a new generation of Good Shepherd Ranch Heritage Turkeys and a new chapter in the history of an endangered species (you have to eat them to save them). Since our Turkey Project began numerous breeds of turkeys have been upgraded from the critically endangered list because more people are raising and consuming them and they are becoming a more active part of the marketplace. Examples include the Narragansett, Black, Bourbon Red, Standard Bronze and Slate.
While many farmers now use the term, Frank Reese and his team raise the truest example of the original Heritage Turkey: according to the USDA, they remain the only farm allowed to use the name “Heritage” on their label thanks to certification by the oldest agricultural organization in North America, the American Poultry Association.
Thanks to everyone who bought Heritage Turkeys for their Thanksgiving, millions of dollars have been funneled to independent Kansas family farms and processors. When Frank started in 2002 he hatched 900 eggs in his barn. This year 20,000 eggs will be hatched.
Good Shepherd Ranch is the only large farm we know of that produces chickens and turkeys without the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics from hatching to processing. Routine use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in feed is unnecessary and dangerous when raising food-animals.
In more recent news, two years ago The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) made Frank the first farmer to receive a $150,000 Grow Your Farm Grant. The profits from Frank’s expansion will repay the grant money so that the ASPCA can give again to another deserving farmer, thus making the grant perpetual. Your purchases have strengthened the backbone of sustainable farming, raising awareness, and making these kinds of grants possible.
We hope you reserve your healthy, naturally mating, flying Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, White Holland, Royal Palm, Black, or Narragansett turkey this Fall! We guarantee these are the best tasting Turkeys ever or your money back.
Heritage Turkeys from Good Shepherd Ranch go on sale in August and are raised in very limited supply so order early! All turkeys are delivered fresh the Tuesday before Thanksgiving via FedEx overnight, in their own custom-built turkey box!
December is Dickensian and, once again, the time for ducks and geese. For Americans, they may seem a bit Old World and intimidating to cook, but the truth is they are no more difficult to prepare than a chicken or a turkey, and they are an incredibly tasty alternative. Stephen Barber, the chef at Farmstead restaurant in Napa, calls geese “rib eye in the sky” because they are that meaty and wonderful.
Every year Heritage Foods USA partners with a group of family farmers including Frank Reese and his group of Good Shepherd Ranch poultry farmers to raise heritage breeds of ducks and geese. These animals are pond-raised and include breeds such as Embden, Toulouse and American Buff geese and Pekin ducks.
Heritage Ducks and Geese are available starting in November for delivery fresh the week of Christmas!