Why Does Farm-to-Table Food Taste Better?
When we purchased The Kentucky Castle in 2017, it was very important to us to create a farm-to-table experience for our restaurant guests.
Why is that so important to us? Well, besides being able to taste the difference in terms of flavor and quality of our foods, this philosophy creates a level of respect between our farmers, animals, and guests.
We're working directly with farmers that share our general philosophy. Eventually we’re working towards a “nose-to-tail” paradigm, which means we purchase entire animals at a time and creatively serve them—including the lesser-known cuts of meat--to our guests.
While the modern nose-to-tail trend emerged around a decade ago, it’s actually an age-old approach. In more primitive times, farmers would raise a pig, butcher it, and then preserve it to last the whole winter, making use of every part.
Nose-to-tail cooking is all about sustainability—not being wasteful, and valuing the whole animal. Getting our meats from local farmers has its other advantages, too. For example, we ran out of our pork chop special last Saturday in the restaurant. While most food establishments would have simply had to tell disappointed guests there would be no more pork chops for the duration of the evening, we had a different solution. Since we have a close relationship with Farmer Cody who supplies the bulk of our meat, our chef gave him a quick call. Cody then delivered more pork chops directly from the farm in the middle of restaurant service so we could continue serving them to our guests. How cool is that?
We love having Farmer Cody as one of our meat suppliers because his general philosophy is exactly in line with what we believe. Cody’s farm uses environmentally sound and sustainable practices that create happier and healthier animals, which in turn produce nutrient-dense meat.
“My love of farming far exceeds any real reason that we started down this road,” said Cody. “It’s just in my blood.”
Raised on a traditional hog farm, Cody grew up participating in 4-H and already had an understanding of what it takes to raise pigs.
In 2016, Cody’s family purchased a farm in Franklin County with a goal of producing meat and eggs for themselves and some neighbors.
Young Farmer…….and Younger Pig
Cody had read about a farmer named Joel Salatin and others who were doing more environmentally sound farming. He watched videos and learned about certain heritage breeds of pigs and decided to invest in Berkshires and Herefords.
Cody’s first foray into pig farming was successful and the meat was tasty. But he felt the pigs weren’t happy being raised in the barn, so he decided to take a “free range” approach and let the pigs spend time outdoors during the day.
Cody’s Happy Pigs
“I noticed the pigs would spend tons of time near the woods edge digging up acorns and walnuts and really ignored the standard feed we had even though they were also on pasture,” Cody said. “That’s when it hit me...those hogs need to be in the woods all the time.”
When he got the second round of pork back from the pigs that were raised in the woods, Cody was blown away by the flavor. He then experimented with a breed called Mangalitsa with the same free-range approach.
“The pork we feel is just phenomenal,” Cody said. “We literally can't stock it fast enough.”
Cody also makes sure his farm habitat is healthy and the environment is well cared for.
“We do not want to leave this farm worse than when we got here,” he explained. “So we allow goats to go in the pig pens to remove a lot of under brush. We cut any dead trees and allow more sunlight in on the paddocks and remove other invasive species too. The pigs in return will root up pasture ground which lets the dirt breathe and we go back and drag out, reseed and graze lambs on.
The Goat “partners” on Cody’s Farm
“This (farm philosophy) makes me very excited because I love it,” Cody added. “My kids love it too. Even though I sweat and get hurt and work extremely hard, I feel like I am on vacation every day.”
We’re glad you feel that way, Cody, because we do too!