By R.J. Anderson
It’s no secret that sales of locally grown and processed meat have accelerated at a rapid pace in recent years. For many current and prospective meat producers, raising the animals is the easy part. Knowing how the meat is cut and the sausage is made is not always as instinctive.
Helping producers figure out that piece of the puzzle is a series of meat processing and marketing classes co-organized by SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) Harvest New York economic development and sustainability program. The most recent of these classes focused on pork and looked to provide greater understanding of pork cuts, pork marketing, food safety and sausage making.
Held at the SUNY Cobleskill Meat Laboratory, the one-day workshop was led by Meat Lab Manager Betsy Jensen, Harvest New York Livestock Processing & Marketing Specialist MacKenzie Waro and Culinary Arts Instructor Mike Lapi, who led a hands-on training session.
It was the interactive, hands-on portion that proved to be the highlight for nearly every attendee, from novice to experienced producers.
“I went to the workshop hoping to learn more about using different cuts of the pig and figure out what might be compromised if we tried harvesting new cuts,” says Riley Warren, whose family has a successful farm that sells grass-fed meats, eggs and other products in farmers markets throughout eastern New York and New York City. “The hands-on portion was so helpful in allowing me to process that information. I’m a visual learner and can watch YouTube videos and see stuff online, but this allowed me to see the cuts being made and ask direct questions as I thought of them.”
For SUNY Cobleskill and Harvest New York, whose goal is to expand and enhance CCE’s regional agriculture programs and spur agricultural development in the state by developing educational programs, the 15-person class marked the second time they had collaborated on a sold-out event. A third event will be held October 11, when participants will learn how to process and market a poultry carcass. The cost for that class, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SUNY Cobleskill Meat Lab, is $50 per person, which includes lunch and classroom materials.
“We continue to be impressed by the hands-on class interaction between industry leaders and participants for these seminars,” says Waro. “Based on the attendance as well as the post-event feedback we are getting, this is a much-needed learning opportunity.
“And what’s really driven the success of this programming is the collaboration and cooperation between Harvest New York and SUNY Cobleskill,” Waro adds. “SUNY Cobleskill’s Meat Lab is a cutting-edge facility perfectly suited to help Harvest New York meet its educational goals for meat processing education as we look to grow the meat industry in the state. It’s a relationship that’s beneficial to both of us as well as producers in the eastern and northern parts of the state.”
To register or for more information, call Linda Serdy, SUNY Cobleskill Office of Professional and Continuing Education at 518.255.5528 or SerdyML@cobleskill.edu.
R.J. Anderson is a staff writer/communications specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension. He can be reached at email@example.com.