The venue? The rustic-meets-sleek spaces of Urban Enoteca, an event space south of Sodo, in Seattle, Washington.
The event? The "Women on a Mission" conference, sponsored by Seattle Good Business Network. The event was chock full of speakers, delicious natural and organic food offerings, rapport and energy. Near the end of the conference, I met Clarice Swanson, co-owner of Blue Valley Meats, and she gave me a sample of frozen pork out of the trailer she'd driven from Walla Walla, Washington (on the other side of the state). Later, the pork cooked up deliciously -- and really good pork is not always easy to find.
When Clarice started on the trip over Washington State's Cascade Mountains, the trailer had been loaded with meat deliveries for her clients.
Clarice gives us some great insights into running a relatively new wholesale and retail sustainable meat operation:
Karen for Gluten Free Safari: At the conference, you mentioned that Blue Valley makes its sausage using its own recipes. What other meats do you fine-tune with your own original blend of ingredients?
Clarice of Blue Valley Meats: Our butcher/co-owner, Christopher Galasso, develops all of our sausage and bacon recipes, including the Linguica and the Hickory Smoked Bacon served at the conference. For us, it’s not just a recipe -- it’s about fine tuning the notes of all the herbs and spices in harmony with the particular kinds of natural meats we use. To back up further, it really starts with a healthy, happy hog from a farmer who can bring out the best in his hogs . . . .
Karen: What are the most important factors influencing the quality of your meat?
Clarice: We really strive to put together a total package. Anything we put into our bodies is subject to so many factors. Meats are time-sensitive and temperature-sensitive products. That’s huge, but it’s even more then that. Meat quality is supported by everything big and small back down the line: how the meat is transported, how it’s stored, how it’s processed, and who's processing it. How is it slaughtered, how clean is it? How was it raised? These are factors we monitor and grapple with each and every day to make sure meat is safe and of high quality. 100% grass fed beef is vital. . . . .
Karen: What cities/areas do you deliver to and how often?
Clarice: We have two basic routes. Every three weeks we head down to Portland and make a half a dozen stops; the newest one -- the Rose City Co-op -- was just added this week. Then, we are in the Seattle area two weeks on and one week off. . . . . We go as far north as Marysville, as far south as Olympia . . . and as far east as The Grange Café in Duvall, which just started serving our meats this week.
Thank you, Clarice!