We’ve been thinking a lot about slaughterhouses over the last few weeks at the marketumbrella.org office. Mostly because of our meat vendor, Justin Pitts, who has recently shared with us the challenges he faces finding a slaughterhouse that fits his needs.
Slaughtering an animal for retail is a complicated business. Gourmet
outlets, like urban farmers markets or high-end restaurants, require
specific cuts of meat with specific thicknesses. Then there are the
complications associated with packaging, labeling, and freezing the
product, as well as the enormous hassle of driving to and from the
facilities to drop off and then pick up the meat. Not to mention the
legal obstacles of transporting meat products across state lines. Any
animal product that goes from Mississippi to Louisiana, for example,
needs to have a USDA-approved sticker on it, which is on all of
Indeed, Justin is as attentive to the death of his animals as he is to their life. He takes incredible pride in monitoring the lives of his cows, pigs, and sheep while they are on his farm, so it makes sense that he would drive nearly a hundred miles north of his farm in Ellisville, MS, simply to get to his USDA-approved slaughterhouse, one of only two in the state.
For Justin, the farmer-slaughterhouse relationship is based on trust. Even if there was a more conveniently located abattoir, Justin would probably still take his meat to his current slaughterhouse, run by a man who he knows will give him the level of service and reliability that he has come to expect.
His is a complicated business, and there are very few folks like him. Moreover, his meat is fantastic. When you taste his products, like the bacon and lamb he’s been selling at market, then you’ll understand where all the love, time and attention have gone. If you ask, he’ll probably even tell you a little bit about the animal’s life.
Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.