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Specialty Cured Pork Earns A Fat Premium
Your hogs have to be special before La Quercia will cure and market the meat. The specialty meats farm may be surrounded by Iowa hogs, but not just any hog finds its way into La Quercia’s prosciutto, pancetta or other Italian style cured pork products. Hogs are procured from select breeders who follow careful protocols.
  “We organize our product line around different breeds and feeding methods,” explains Ruth Holbrook, La Quercia. “We work on programs with farmers we have a relationship with.”
  Current breeding lines include Tamworth hogs, raised by 4 family farms in Missouri; a Berkshire/Chester White cross herd from an organic farm in northeastern Iowa; and Berkshire hogs also from Iowa.
  All hogs must be raised without hormones or antibiotics and without any animal byproducts. They also have to have access to pasture.
  Specially-fed hogs can earn their own product line. One Tamworth producer and an Iowa Berkshire producer feed their hogs a diet consisting of at least 60 percent acorns for 3 months. These Acorn Edition hogs get special care and receive special prices.
  A La Quercia Acorn edition ham is aged for 2 to 3 years. Sold through an online specialty food vendor, a 16-lb., bone-in ham was priced at $1,000...and listed as “sold out”.
  Less pricy and less specific, La Quercia pancetta was priced at $10 for 3 oz. Other cuts vary by origin and how they are produced.
  “We are seeing good growth. There is so much interest in this type of meat,” says Holbrook. “There is a lot of interest in heritage breeds and in specific animals.”
  The company doesn’t do any custom processing; however, they are interested in finding new producers who offer a distinctive program. Holbrook suggests that hog producers who meet the company’s overall requirements and would like to become a supplier should contact the office.
  “The first step is to talk to someone at the office,” she says. “Next may be to provide taste samples. If the company owners are interested, they may ask that animals be submitted to be cured, which takes 9 to 12 months. If we taste something distinctive after they are cured, the conversation continues.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, La Quercia, 400 Hakes Dr., Norwalk, Iowa 50211 (ph 515 981-1625; www.laquercia.us).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1