From Pasture to Plate: Northfield Farms Edition

Today while at Northfield Farms, we got our first look at an on-farm butcher shop that shares their "pasture to plate" story quite well. Jan was very passionate about sharing the story of his farm with us before showing us his livestock and butcher shop. Since we toured a similar butcher shop in Minnesota, the St. Paul Meat Shop, we noticed the main concepts of selling meat at a small butcher shop wasn't too different from the United States.

For starters, both butcher shop's main goal was to provide a high quality, safe and wholesome product for their consumers. The meat counters both contained numerous meat cuts that cater to various palates and customer's specific needs. Both butchers sold bacon that could be sliced to a specific thickness and quantity; however, Northfield offered dry-aged steaks that could be cut the same way.

Nick Mangigian- St. Paul Meat Shop

Marc Andrews- Northfield Butcher

Not only does Northfield Farms operate a butcher shop, they also run a 100-head cow herd and 80 ewes on their farm while the neighbor raises their free-range pigs. With that, they are raising the animals from birth until butcher, which offers more traceability. Also, they work closely with the Prince of Wales' herd manager to sell his beef. Jan said he goes to the farm and handpicks the animals they want to sell in their shop. Each piece of meat in England has a specific label that allows the consumer to trace the product back to the original farm. At the St. Paul Meat Shop, they are sourcing their meat from two beef farms, one hog farm, and one sheep farm in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The St. Paul Meat Shop receives the whole carcass after butcher at the Linden Hills location, where it is further broken down into primal and sub-primal cuts for easier marketing.

Meat Case at Northfield Farms Butcher Shop

Meat Case at St. Paul Meat Shop

Due to their primarily forage-fed diet here in England, animals take longer to meet customer's expectations of an adequate finish. The heritage breeds of beef raised at Northfield finish around 36 to 48 months of age, they are dry-aged in an Italian Dry-Aging Cabinet. In the temperature and humidity controlled cabinet, the meat is hung as a primal cut for around six weeks. The cabinet is also equipped with UV lights to kill any bacteria that may be on the meat while it is hanging in the cabinet. During dry-aging, water loss helps concentrate the flavor while the muscle decomposes, making the meat more tender. In Europe, they have seen a rise in demand for cow and bull meat, which makes dry-aging the perfect process to produce a tender product for the consumer.
Italian Dry-Aging Cabinet

Dry-Aged Rump

Both of the butcher shops had a consumer focus in mind by offering a small grocery store. Northfield offers pastas, honey, sauces, oils, crisps (chips), cheeses, and vodka and gin that is distilled on-site. Similarly, the St. Paul Meat Shop offers pasta, breads, sauces, and soft drinks. Something unique about the St. Paul Meat Shop was the utilization of the whole animal by making their own soup stocks and tallow.
Vodka and Gin Selection at Northfield Farms
Pasta and Pantry Selection at Northfield Farms
Grocery at St. Paul Meat Shop

While one of these meat shops is located in the middle of the city in St. Paul, Minnesota and the other is on the rolling hillside in England, they are both striving to "meat" their customer's needs. England is lucky to have a passionate farmer and meat shop owner that lives and breathes farming!

English Word of the Day: Cade Lamb- hand-reared bottle lamb

Maggie and Paige


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