Meet the Meat Department

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.

More Co-op News

2018 Electronic Coupon Schedule

To further our sustainability efforts and to serve you better, we began offering Electronic Owner Coupons in January 2017 at the register.

No more forgetting to bring your owner coupons. No more waiting for your newsletter to arrive. Cashiers simply ask if you want to use your owner coupons when you check out.

As we enter our second year of Electronic Coupons we wanted to share a couple of friendly reminders and the 2018 month by month schedule.

Please note:

What Does Democracy Have to Do with Cooperatives?

By Annie Hoy, Marketing Manager

We often refer to cooperatives as “democratic enterprises.” But what does that really mean? The Ashland Food Co-op, like all other co-ops in most economic sectors, is owned and controlled by the people who use its services.

Proposals Sought for the 2018 Community Grants

The funding cycle for the 2018 Co-op Community Grants for nonprofit organizations begins in February.

Every spring, for more than 20 years, we’ve been donating to area nonprofits through our Community Grant program. We are committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities and this program helps us fulfill that commitment by supporting the amazing work of local nonprofits. The Community Grant program is also the highlight of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community, and is something we take to heart.

From the General Manager’s Desk

By Emile Amarotico

As we commence our lap around the sun in 2018, I wish to recognize the longstanding contributions of an amazing group of professionals. We are blessed with the dedication of eleven department managers expertly coordinating the daily flow of people, products and services that breath life into our Co-op!

  • Lynne (35+ years’ tenure) our Grocery Manager oversees keeping the aisles abundant with shelf stable products and coolers full of fresh perishables.

The Role of the Board in Co-op Governance

By Gwyneth Bowman, Vice President

After serving on the AFC Board for fourteen years my passion for the Co-op model has strengthened my commitment to the Cooperative Principles and Values. Of special importance is how we work together as a governing body with one voice. We are the ultimate decision-makers of our Co-op and hold a trusteeship for the benefit of our owners and community.

Fall Favorites from the Co-op

Like it or not, the cool weather has arrived. Whether you are heading out for a hike or enjoying a good book by the fire, the Co-op Deli has what you need to fuel your favorite fall activity. Stay warm with these comfort food recommendations from the Co-op Deli.

From the General Manager's Desk

By Emile Amarotico

A recent visitor commented that our parking is totally inadequate to our business volume. What’s true is that we cannot create more parking due to space and municipal code constraints. Thus, the value of each available space is increasing over time. Assuming only half of Co-op shoppers use automobile parking, each space supports at least $200,000 in annual sales.

Meet Board of Director Julie O'Dwyer

When not working on Board of Director efforts, my profession is an Interior and Building Designer. I own the Ashland Design Studio, located in the Historic Railroad District, and have a design services studio there - JulieO Design. I have been in the architectural design business my whole life; from crawling around my father's architectural studio to traveling around the world working on buildings large and small to now having created my own niche in the local building community. I took a few years off this path to own and run Tease Restaurant here in Ashland.

5 Reasons to Love Co-ops

October is National Co-op Month, so what’s the big deal? Being a co-op is special. Yes, we know we are biased, but being a cooperative enterprise means we do business differently. We don’t have a single owner living on their private island drinking margaritas all day without a care in the world. We are owned and governed by you, our 10,000 members. We share the burden in hard times and share the benefits in the good times. We put people, the planet and our principles before profit.

From the General Manager's Desk

By Emile Armarotico

This spring, National Co-op Grocers recognized Ashland Food Co-op as a Co+efficient Sustainability Star for our excellent sustainability efforts.

Our Sustainability Vision aims at being carbon neutral by 2030. We’ve taken a great stride toward this by installing a 39 kilowatt solar electric system on our rooftop with the capacity to generate approximately 7% of our electricity usage. The cost was partially offset by a $27,000 REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) Grant.

Local Starts at the Co-op

When we say local, we mean local. We source our local goods from within 200 miles of the store. By purchasing goods from local producers, we aim to create and maintain a healthy local economy and support family farms. What could be better than helping your community by buying local goods?

With all the local products that we offer, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But that’s exactly what we asked our staff to do. Here are some of their go-to local eats.

Your Fruit. Your Cider.

How often can you browse the shelf at your neighborhood grocery store, see a bottle of hand crafted, local cider and say, “Hey, I help make that!” Well, at the Co-op you can.

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

Many of us wait all year for this moment. We spend the winter months dreaming of a certain fuzzy stone fruit, its sweet juices dripping from our face and the buttery golden pie crust those yellow-orange slices will inhabit.

Good news! The wait is over. That local, sweet orb of sunshine has finally arrived. That’s right. Rolling Hills peaches are here!

2017 Board Election Results

The Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors is pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Board Election. There were five excellent candidates running for three Board positions. In total, 733 votes were cast, representing 9% of owners. 
Congratulations to the following candidates who will serve three-year terms on the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors.

We're Sustainability Stars!

Deep in our hearts we've always known we were sustainability stars, but now we have an award to prove it.

We recently received a Co+efficient Sustainability Star award from National Co-op Grocers (NCG) recognizing our positive environmental and community impacts.

Co+efficient, NCG’s sustainability program, measures social, environmental and local economic impacts from participating food co-ops across the country.