Heritage Foods, based in Brooklyn, NY, is a farm-to-table online butcher dedicated to supporting family farmers raising livestock with old-school genetics on pasture. These farmers cannot rely on the commodity market for sales because their animals take too long to grow. Turkeys, pigs, lamb, goats, chickens, ducks and geese are all purchased nose-to-tail and sold online in cuts to customers in all 50 states as well as 130 of America’s best restaurants. Heritage genetics are famous globally for their gastronomic attributes and ours are raised with no antibiotics, using traditional farming methods.
How We Got Started
Patrick Martins first walked onto Frank Reese’s Kansas farm in 2001. At the time Patrick was President of the still nascent Slow Food USA, a nonprofit education organization aimed at promoting the relationship between environment and gastronomy. Slow Food had just begun boarding rare foods onto its Ark of Taste. It was a figurative ark with the goal to protect foods that are part of America's heritage by creating a living catalog promoting these delicious and distinctive foods. Back then Frank Reese was the only farmer in America raising true heritage turkeys with recorded lineages tracing back more than 150 years. Patrick knew instantly he’d found a unique moment. This was an opportunity to go beyond acknowledging these breeds as being jeopardized and to actually DO something to save them. Patrick asked Frank to ramp up production and made a promise to him that if he would raise ‘em Heritage Foods would sell ‘em.
When Patrick started Heritage Foods he was only a kid from NYC. He didn’t have any farming or butchering experience, but he had a deep love and respect for food and understood the gastronomic importance these unique and threatened breeds represented. Frank taught him early on the only way to save heritage breeds from extinction was to get more people to eat them. This idea seems counter intuitive but you have to understand this lesson to understand what Heritage Foods USA does. We help create a market for delicious meats from heritage breeds of pork, beef, turkeys, lamb, goat, duck, geese and chicken. We protect the breeds that have been abandoned by commercial agriculture in favor of new hybrid animals that take half the time to grow and yield more consistent sizes and shapes. What these hybrid breeds lack though is depth of flavor, character and the safety that comes from having diversity in our agricultural system. Without access to niche markets farmers are forced to sell to the commodity market—one that rewards standardization and pays pennies on the pound for hard work. A system that forces farmers to use cruel practices designed to capitalize on the confinement of animals and ultimately jeopardizes the health of Americans. That’s why we do what we do, selling nose to tail—committing to buying everything our farmers are able to raise so they can continue to grow their operation knowing that we will help them find passionate cooks who appreciate their rare products.
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