Emphasizing farm fresh at The Meat Market

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media


Local is not a buzzword — it’s a lifestyle. It’s about you. It’s about where you live. It’s about making connections. It sustains jobs, land stewardship, animal welfare and is a way to be devoted to good health, your community and agriculture.


Just by shopping and eating from people you seek out and trust to feed you responsibly-made honest food, you make a difference in our food ways that benefit the future of farming and not Big Ag, storage and distribution of processed food with little nutrition.


When you “live local,” that connection to real food from real people fosters communication and wellness. Our collective conscience as consumers throws a wrench in the gears of industrial farming and the family farmer may finally have its heyday again. So let’s make hay while the sun shines!


And the sun is shining! Just over the state line in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, seek out The Meat Market where Jeremy Stanton wants to change your food life as much as I do. Stanton puts his money where his mouth is at his gem of a butcher shop and café you must frequent to shop for locally-sourced farm fresh food — be it lunch, an event or a whole smoked ham this season.


After years of running a catering company, says Stanton, “out of the back of trucks and borrowed time in commercial kitchens, buying whole animals direct from farmers was routine practice.” In August 2011 he elaborates, “we expanded our vision of whole animal utilization, support of local farms and exceptional food production by opening The Meat Market, a place that supports our high-minded ideals for sustainability, health (personal and planetary) and excellence ….where food is made, recipes tested, and charcuterie cured.”


Their website reads, “The Meat Market is a meeting place for farmers and friends; it is the place betrothed couples taste the dishes we will serve at their wedding. The Meat Market is absolutely a fun place to visit.”


This holiday, that’s no different. It’s a family affair at the Stantons’! They purchase only grass fed whole animals directly from local farmers for their butcher shop and company known as Fire Roasted Catering, supplying our community with fresh cuts of the highest quality, healthiest and tastiest meat available, holding back the pieces that are crafted in the shop into their delectable supply of fresh sausage and charcuterie.


The café uses “less commercial cuts” that are lunch-a-licious (did someone say Cuban?) and available as refrigerated products all fresh, some pickled and they provide one-stop shopping that’s super. Waste is not tolerated at The Meat Market and farmers are celebrated as the real rock stars in food. “We love working in close relationship with farmers, keeping us closer to the earth and farmers closer to the money side of our business,” Stanton explained — and that benefits the farmer!


Stanton started cooking as a kid from rural Pennsylvania on the edge of Amish country and working at the surrounding farms — first picking peaches and then “working the hay fields for the neighbor across the way for the pay of $5 a day. I didn’t last long at that job!” he joked explaining he was 12 years old.


Inspired in the kitchen by his grandmother, Betty — never mind her house dish of pickled beef tongue, pickled beets and dark bread served with Hellman’s mayonnaise she reliably crafted each visit — she introduced Stanton to cooking and he stayed by her side and learned to navigate the kitchen.


One of five siblings, Stanton said he, “Grew up in a huge house with tons of people and old milk cans filled with fresh milk they would divide into gallon jugs for the fridge — there was no option — we ate what was grown around us: tomatoes, onions, squash — all kinds of squash and corn — all local.”


When he was around 14, the Stanton family moved to the Berkshires via North Plain Road on North Plain Farm where his parents still reside today. His brother Sean farms the land producing pigs and chickens (both for meat and egg laying) as well as vegetables while running Blue Hill Farm in the Monterey, Massachusetts, selling locally to The Meat Market and Fire Roasted Catering and others, in addition to his respective role as “Selectman” in the town of Great Barrington. Stanton’s older brother, Peter, is founder of The Nutrition Center — inspiring a healthy relationship with food — clearly a family value!


Straight from the farm, Stanton started working in the restaurant business “since the moment I could!” He gained experience at a Stockbridge restaurant called La Bruschetta, where he took over in later years, to Martha’s Vineyard with the “most amazing experience cutting fish” at Poole’s Fish market (established in 1946).


In 1999 he launched The Stellar Pasta Company, ventured to Terra Madre, found inspiration from Argentine pit master Francis Mallmann and worked for Tom Gardener of New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy at Stafford Premium Meats, funded by the Cabbage Hill Foundation where Stanton really learned about value added meat products and the importance of the nose-to-tail whole animal philosophy. Sustainable practices are vital to being a carnivore.


After his “job folded,” Stanton launched the Fire Roasted Catering company to create and cook unique food over huge open fires for guests to experience rugged elegance at their venue of choice. And it worked! Committed to supporting local agriculture, buying grass fed whole animals and paying family farms a fair price — and more than the living wage — created an opportunity for a viable livelihood for Stanton and his own family (partner and wife Emily Stanton, a local veterinarian and their two young children) which led to lots of exploration farming, fabricating and fermenting year round at a new home base in an agricultural community in the heart of the Berkshires.


The Meat Market works with 20-plus local farms, serving lunch in a butcher shop soon to be your new favorite spot that sells stocks, soups, sauces and pickled everything. There is never any waste and his team, which he calls, “great people who organically came together,” make Jeremy Stanton the caterer of choice on the sole basis of smart agriculture, performance in cooking and appreciated food.


This holiday, like the Stantons, honor the effort and contribution of the farmer to your table and celebrate the culinary heritage we support eating local to sustain health and wellness for generations to come! That’s worth celebrating! A toast to The Meat Market, Jeremy Stanton and family farms everywhere … FarmOn!


Contact the author at tessa@ or on Twitter at @FarmOnFarmOn.


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