Belcampo Meats Wants to Bring Animals All the Way From Farm to (Your) Fork
|Angus cattle, like the kind currently chewing its cud at Belcampo Meat's farm.|
Belcampo Meats is introducing a different model of bringing meat to the table. If we were talking about commodities and retail chain stores, we'd call it vertical integration: Within the course of the next year, the new company is aiming to bring pasture-raised meats from its farm to its own slaughterhouse in far northern California, then shipping them south to its own retail stores in the Bay Area. Only a few small enterprises in the United States are trying anything similar.
Belcampo CEO Anya Fernald -- organizer of Slow Food Nation and founder of the Eat Real Fest -- first developed the business plan working as a consultant to Todd Robinson, an investor who owned a 10,000-acre parcel of farmland in the Shasta Valley as well as plots of undeveloped land in Uruguay and Belize. Fernald recently closed down her consulting business to run the new venture. (The Uruguay and Belize ventures will be run separately, though there are some interesting cacao and rum projects afoot on the latter site that Americans will soon be hearing more about.)
|The Shasta Valley farm.|
The company just broke ground on a slaughterhouse in Yreka, which, pending USDA approval, is slated to open in August. The slaughterhouse will process all the animals from the farm. "In the long term," says Fernald, "we're hoping 50 to 80 percent of the volume will be from other farmers." At the moment, Shasta Valley is too far from major cities and slaughterhouses for the farmers there to raise animals for meat on a larger scale; Fernald hopes that by building the infrastructure, the surrounding community can make use of it.
According to Fernald, the first Belcampo Meats shop will open in Larkspur's Marin Country Market sometime in the summer, with a San Francisco shop to follow in the fall. At first, the Larkspur store will only sell packaged and prepared meats until the slaughterhouse is up and running.
In the meantime, Belcampo has been arranging "Meat Ups": advance-order sales of meat out of its offices at 65 Webster in Oakland's Jack London Square. The next "Beef Bonanza" will be held Thursday, December 22, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. (though you can order delivery for $20 extra). The prices, right now, are definitely on the premium side: six-to-eight-pound geese sell for $95, Angus stew beef for $125/10 pounds, and ten pounds of dry-aged Wagyu steaks for $350. To place an order, visit Belcampo's online store.