Farm to fork...for local pork
At the base of the hills between Newberg and Dundee, a Berkshire pig roams among a grove of overgrown Christmas trees at JL Fisher Farms.
Jered Lee Fisher, who’s owned the 110-acre spread for 20 years, lives there with his family and 60 pasture-raised pigs bred for meat production.
Fisher’s pigs are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. “People don’t like antibiotics in food because it reduces immunity and makes them more susceptible to diseases,” he said.
His pigs also have lots of exercise, which isn't the way it works in commercial feedlots, where pigs are packed in as tightly as possible.
“Typically, commercial pigs sit around all day getting fat,” he said. “Mine get to run around the Christmas trees and develop more muscle.” He added that more muscle results in more flavor.
It’s a seven to eight-month process, from the time a pig is born on the farm to the time its meat is served to restaurant patrons. He splits his production between a pair of restaurants — Newberg's Ruddick/Wood and Portland's Laurelhurst Market.
Once a pig reaches 300 pounds, Fisher takes it to either Dayton Natural Meats or Carlton Farms on a Monday morning. He picks up the meat and delivers it to his clients three days later.
Dayton Natural Meats is a USDA-approved facility for the slaughter of hogs, chickens, turkeys and cattle. Reg Keddie, who also raises poultry in Dayton and Aurora, has served as general manager for two and a half years now.
Keddie follows USDA health and safety requirements. He has 16 hours from the time a pig is slaughtered to cool the carcass to 40 degrees, and he takes care to hit the mark. “Suffice it to say, they walk in and then go out cold,” he said. “That’s why Jered brings his hogs to us.
“There are specific expectations with the USDA plant. It’s also how he’ll be able to sell it to Ruddick/Wood.”
Fisher sells the Newberg restaurant half a pig every other week. Ruddick/Wood, which opened two years ago, also buys meat from a farm in Yamhill.
Paul Losch, co-owner and head chef, has spent most of his life in the food industry. He started working at his parents’ snack bar, at a Pennsylvania state park, when he was 13.
At Ruddick/Wood, he tries to support as many local farmers as possible. “A majority of our produce comes from local suppliers,” he said.
Losch breaks down the half pigs himself, using ever part possible.
“We try not to waste anything,” he said. “We use the skin, the head, everything.”
Losch said the restaurant can serve at least 100 plates from a half pig, using the majority of it in less than a week.
He serves an Italian dish called porchetta di testa made from a pig’s head and face muscles. Other pork-based dishes include pork loin, bacon, smoked ham, sausage and pulled pork.
For more information about Ruddick/Wood, visit www.ruddickwood.com. To buy a half or whole pig, and have it butchered and wrapped, call Jered Fisher at 503-481-2045.