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Farm-to-table route meets public demand

Delmer Martin sees vertical integration as key to meeting consumer demand, the impetus behind The Farmer’s Cut. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Meeting the growing demand for healthier meat products and more transparency in food processing while maintaining all the flavour is a tall order, but one a new venture aims to fill.

The Farmer’s Cut in Waterloo is a farm-to-table meat shop where customers know exactly where their food is coming from. The variety of Canadian meat products on offer – from pepperettes to pork chops – are all courtesy of Delmer Martin’s Peel Sausage Farm in Drayton. 

What is particularly unique about the business is that Martin has complete control over the supply chain, starting with patented animal feed, grazing pastures, farm operations, all the way through to the final product.

“We want to give people a healthier product for the table,” said Martin. “It’s all about eating good food.”

The livestock are raised on the family-owned Peel Sausage farm. Currently, they are fed with non-genetically modified organism (GMO) grains, hay, corn, proteins and other starches. 

Once the animals have grown to the proper size, they are sent to the provincially licensed slaughter plant, also owned by Peel Sausage. Following this, they are sent to The Farmer’s Cut processing plant. The organization has created a vertically integrated operation that begins with the feed and ends at the table.  

“One of the things that we wanted to do is offer not just the regular cuts of meat, but value-added products,” said co-owner Brian Schallhorn. “For example, pork chops that are apple, onion and sweetened honey mustard marinades.”

A wide-ranging variety of meats are made with considerable care and utmost consideration for food safety. Beef, chicken, pork, and ready-to-eat options are all available in-store or online.

Among products on offer include bacon, beef chilli, beef stew, boneless chicken breast, kabobs, meatloaf, pulled pork, sirloin steaks, smoked pork chops, and flattened chicken.

Patrons have the option to select their favourite style of meat – for instance, sausage is available in plain, garlic, cooked, or smoked apple butter. Pepperettes, a particularly popular item, are available in mild, hot or honey garlic flavours.

Schallhorn said that for the past couple years, there is a strong demand to know where one’s food comes from, and that The Farmer’s Cut meets that need.

“We attribute that to The Food Network … there are now all these new foodies that are out there. People really understand now what it is that they’re eating,” said Schallhorn. “So they know the cuts of meat, and they know how to prepare the products more than they did … say, 10 years ago.

“So what we think we’re able to do here, is all these value added products are going back to the original butcher-style of cutting and wrapping. The people … that’s what they want because there are a lot of foodies out there again.”

Starting early 2020, The Farmer’s Cut will incorporate a barley feed program: a portion of the traditional ration will be replaced with barley grass for the animals. The business found that there were many benefits by doing so, through years of research and experiments at the farm level.

Co-owners Martin and Schallhorn were inspired to collaborate to create The Farmer’s Cut through these years of testing – Shallhorn’s business began sprouting the barley, and did the trials on the livestock at Martin’s farm. They found they had an excellent final product, and decided to move forward with the business.

The barley feed program is beneficial to the animal, as the enzymes within barley break down complex starches into easily digestible sugars. This minimizes stress on the animal’s gut and promotes weight gain. 

It is also healthier for the customer given that barley adds the bonus of creating Omega 3’s in animal’s fats while lowering the percentage of saturated fat. The final product is juicier and more tender.

The Farmer’s Cut recently celebrated its grand opening at 620 Colby Dr. in Waterloo. More information can be found online

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