Welcome back to our Behind the Scenes blog series. So far you’ve meet the dynamic Produce and Deli teams. Next up, the department that is packed with protein, meet the Meat Department.
Did you know?
- All of the fresh beef and lamb are local grass fed and grass finished meats.
- None of the seafood products contains Sodium Tripolyphosphate.
- The Meat Department offers a variety of fresh house-made chicken and pork sausages daily.
- All of the fresh meat and seafood is custom cut and packaged in-house daily.
- The brown eco-friendly meat trays used for packaging are manufactured in the USA and Non-GMO project verified, tree-free, recyclable and BPI certified compostable trays.
The Meat Department is just seven employees and one giant packaging machine named Digi. Even though they are small in number, they are big in quality and hard work. From hand cutting fresh meat and seafood to ensuring the organic integrity of your protein-centric holiday dinners, the Meat Department is always on point.
Assistant Manager Brian Swift (pictured above on the right) is no exception. He also brings quite the sense of humor to the crew. Brian has worked in the Meat Department for 10 years and as Assistant Manager for the last three. He gave me a glimpse into the day to day shenanigans. I mean operations, day to day operations.
Describe a typical day in the meat department.
A typical day in the meat department? Hmm… Well I start with a six shot espresso and gaze out our window, looking at the beautiful mountains. Then I look up, out of our skylight, and see the beautiful blue sky. I finish my sixth shot of espresso and get back to reality and realize I'm in a room with no windows or skylight. However, I’m surrounded by top quality meat and seafood, good people, and Sinatra on the radio. This is my life and I love it.
What is your bestselling item?
Our bestselling item is definitely salmon. Depending on the season, King, Coho or Sockeye sell the best. The 20% ground beef is popular as well.
Tell me about some of the cool farms the AFC Meat Department sources from.
Some of my favorite farms are Emerald Hills and Magnolia Farms. Both are small farms near Roseburg. If you have the chance, I strongly suggest visiting them if you are in the area.
If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take 3 items from the Co-op with you, what would they be and why?
Stranded on a desert Island? Yeah right! I work in rooms ranging from 33 degrees to 48 degrees. You will never catch me on a desert Island. However, if I was ever stranded in Alaska, I would take my knives, a lighter and J.R. from the Deli to cook all my meals.
Share with us one of your favorite "meat-centric" recipes.
I’m a big fan of using a smoker to cook my meats. My three favorites are brisket, pork shoulder and baby back ribs. I like to use a simple dry rub of chipotle powder and brown sugar, let it sit overnight and then slow smoke the meat the next day.
Anything new or exciting coming down the pike?
We recently installed all new energy efficient meat cases that have very nice LED lighting. Also, we now carry Kinder Organic BBQ sauces and started stocking Gary West jerky, a local favorite from Jacksonville.
As summer approaches, grilling is hot on everyone’s mind. For your outdoor, or indoor entertaining, here are some Meat Department Staff favorites.
Niman Ranch Chipotle Cheddar Sausages - Sam Roberts
These sausages have a lot of flavor and are great for summer grilling. The cheddar and chipotle combo works perfectly together.
Emerald Hills Flat Iron Steak - Graham Pedersen
Their beef has excellent flavor. It’s a delicious cut of meat, no matter how you cook it.
Magnolia Farms Lamp Chops – Chris Romero
Magnolia Farms lamb chops are my go-to. I like to pan sear the chops with olive oil and herbs, then bake in the oven.
That’s a wrap on the Meat Department. Next up, we’ll visit the land of bulk beans, world class chocolate, diapers and everything in between, the Grocery Department.