That Old Meat Hobby

February 6, 2011

This has been a big week!

I am no longer just a meat enthusiast experimenting in my kitchen.  And over the past year, I did quite a bit more than just build myself a  “man-cave” in the garage. I built a USDA Inspected and Approved Meat Processing Facility, and did so in a very small and unique space. The project is complete, the USDA gave me the green light to get to work, and Link Lab Artisan Meats is in business!

Here’s a partial list of some of the tasks and challenges I had to solve getting to this point:

  • Learn to make  great sausage, and decide I’d like to do it full-time. (This was the easy part. It took 12 years of practice but what doesn’t?)
  • Identify city, county, state, and federal rules and roles relevant to my commercial meat production plans. Every agency has their own unique role to play.
  • Read and re-read the Code of Federal Regulations to understand USDA/FSIS expectations for meat processing in this country
  • HACCP training (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).
  • Lots of interaction with the USDA, confirming that my plans were going to be acceptable to them.
  • Construction
  • Write, document, and formalize EVERYTHING. This includes HACCP plans, Pre-requisite programs, Decision making documents, flow charts, floor plans, and lots of other fascinating material authored by me. (Maybe someday, Art Spiegelman will help me re-craft everything into a comic book format.)
  • Identified and met some amazing farmers and local meat suppliers. They are worth supporting, and I will.
  • Worked and worked and worked….and told my doubters to become vegans.

I plan to continue updating this OinkMoo blog as Herschel the prosciutto ages and as I take on new personal meat projects.  But as you can imagine, my time and priorities are shifting to the new business, Link Lab Artisan Meats.  I hope everyone who enjoys this OinkMoo blog will consider following Link lab on Facebook, and also Link Lab’s blog. There is a lot going on these days…

I guess Jim Jackson said it best in 1927 when he sang,I heard the voice of the pork chop say, come unto me and rest.”

Wish me luck.