Mark Faille didn’t mean to become a farmer. He was just a mechanical engineer living in Virginia when, in the 1990s, long before the local and organic food movement gained steam, he started worrying about the chemicals and pollutants present on the food he was buying at the grocery store. He didn’t want his family ingesting harmful chemicals, so in his spare time, he started raising some produce and livestock of his own. He started handing some of that pork and other meat out to friends and neighbors, and it tasted so good they kept coming back and asking for more.
“At some point,” Mark laughs, “I had to tell them, ‘hey, this is costing me a lot of money. Eventually I’m going to have to start charging you.’”
So that’s what he did -- he quit his job, sold his house, bought a farm, and moved his family to live on it full-time. He started by raising chickens, then added heritage breeds of pigs and cattle. Early on, discerning restaurants in Princeton caught on to what Mark was doing with small-batch, pasture-raised meats on his farm, and approached him to buy for their dinner menus.
“That was really helpful early on,” Mark explains, “because those chefs could tell me what was good and what was not quite as good. Their advice and their feedback helped to get us where we are today.”
Where they are today is pretty awesome: Mark and his family own several parcels of land across New Jersey and Virginia; and it’s on their Virginia farm that they and farm manager Travis Kitzmiller are raising heritage pigs on non-GMO feed. The pigs -- including Mangalitsa and Berkshire breeds, along with several other less common heritage varieties -- live entirely outside except for the retrofitted barns they can move into if they want, when the weather gets stormy.
The meat is firm, moist, and full of porky flavor. You’ll love it.
For three years, we've been traveling across America and beyond, seeking out the most delicious and unique beef from independently-owned farms, from Pennsylvania Angus finished on ancient grains to the world’s rarest steak, Olive-fed Wagyu, which hails from a remote Japanese island.
Now we're expanding our appetite to pork, searching out the country’s highest-quality, independently raised pork not available in stores. Among the types of pork we're seeking out as we become a marketplace for craft producers are heritage and unusual breeds, farms with innovative feed programs like locally sourced hazelnuts, and meat with regionally distinct flavors. We'll continue adding pork offerings as it finds exceptional new farms.
Before factory farms became the norm for U.S. pork production -- and with them, dry, bland-tasting meat -- heritage breeds abounded on small farms. Today, a movement of small-scale pork producers around the country is working to save heritage breeds, while also giving eaters tastier, richer meat. Heritage breeds range in flavor from Berkshire on the one end, known for being tender and rich in fat, to Red Wattle on the other, a rare, flavorful variety bred by New Calendonians and later New Orleaners to star in Cajun cuisine.
Pasture-raised pork can cook a little faster than industrially raised pork. For chops, use the reverse-sear method: cook the pork in the oven, to your desired doneness, then transfer to a skillet to quickly sear. Braises also work well for pasture-raised pork. Bacon is best treated to a nice, quick pan-sizzle. Read on for more on the cooking techniques you can use.
Tips & Tricks