Heritage Foods Buys From Family Farms

Slow Films

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It seems Patrick has always been around the business of food. Heritage Foods is proof of that.

After working in Italy to help launch Slow Food USA, this born-and-bred New Yorker moved back to helm its national office. Mr. Martins was everywhere–founding the magazine for Slow Food, writing the Slow Food Guide to New York Restaurants, Markets and Bars, and generally making sure Slow Food was writ large.

In 2001, taking slow food a step further, Patrick founded Heritage Foods USA with his business partner, Todd Wickstrom, as the marketing arm of Slow Food USA’s Ark project. Their goal was to help family farmers market their artisan foods and to provide an alternative to industrial agriculture.

 This from the Heritage Foods website:

The first Ark products to be sold were Heritage turkeys raised by the foremost breeder of Heritage poultry in the nation: Frank Reese. Many breeds of Heritage turkeys (Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff) are on the endangered species list for farm animals. They are endangered because they are not the breed of choice for corporations who desire fast growing inbreds with abnormal amounts of white breast meat. The only way to save the true American turkey, the one eaten in this country in the 19th century, is to raise them as food. That is what the partnership between Frank and Slow Food USA accomplished and on Thanksgiving 2002, about 800 Heritage turkeys were sold to Slow Food members around the country. Today hundreds of farmers raise Heritage turkeys including Frank Reese and his team at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch who will raise about 10,000 this year. As a result, numerous breeds have been removed from the critically endangered species list.

The best way to help a family farmer is to buy from a family farmer.

The Heritage Turkey Project, which helped double the population of heritage turkeys in the United States and upgraded the Bourbon Red turkey from “rare” to “watch” status on conservation lists, was Heritage Foods USA’s first foray into saving American food traditions.

Heritage Foods launched as an independent company (from Slow Food) in 2004 and has never looked back. When Patrick says ‘the best way to help a family farmer is to buy from a family farmer’, he absolutely means it.

Heritagefoods.com explains:

Today Heritage Foods USA purchases 200 Heritage pigs a week, each and every week, from a network of about 25 independent farms. These pigs are processed and cut into parts under the watchful eye and skilled hands of our partners at Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri. Breeds like Tamworth, Gloucestershire Old Spot, Large Black, Berkshire, Duroc, and Red Wattle are delivered on Mondays and Tuesdays as the Heritage Foods USA office take orders from a network of more than 250 restaurants around the country. For a full list of these restaurants click here. Together the wholesale and mail order division of Heritage Foods USA move over 50,000 lbs of Heritage, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free meat a week.

All from family farmers.

And, if that wasn’t enough, to broadcast the good word about good food Patrick started the Heritage Radio Network.

Today HRN features more than 30 weekly shows about such topics such as food technology, beer, cheese, food history and politics, and cocktails. In May 2012 more than 1 million people clicked onto HRN to learn about artisan and handcrafted foods.

Here’s one more quote from their website:

In 2011, the Heritage Meat Shop (HMS) opened in New York’s historic Essex Street Market on the corner of Essex and Delancey Street. HMS is the first all Heritage breed meat shop in the United States and features fresh meats and charcuterie from this country’s best curemasters like Sam Edwards, Armandino Batali and Allan Benton. An in-house cured meats line and sandwiches are other reasons to stop by and try some delicious foods.

Patrick and his team are all about fighting the good food fight, and it looks like they are winning.

Have you tasted the difference between a heritage breed and conventional breed animal?

Photo credit: Slow Films