When I first began my quixotic journey, I had grand ideas of bringing all the locally raised organic meat I could find in Pennsylvania to stores in Southeastern, PA. I met with chicken farmers, pork and beef farmers and even egg producers. All of the farmers I met were great people who believed in what they were doing and I assume are still doing it today. I found out quickly, however, that handling more than one type of meat as essentially a broker was way too complicated. It meant different farmers, different processors, different locations and multiple transportation challenges. I focused on beef, as you know, but I really wanted to include pork if for no other reason than Paul and Ember Crivellaro of CountryTime Farm.
Paul and Ember raise heritage breeds and love the work they do. They do their best to get their pork into area restaurants and retail stores, but it is tough going. It is tough for all farmers like Paul and Ember. People clamor for local, organic, small, family farmer, healthy, wholesome, all-natural, free-range etc, but so few put their money where there mouth is. If you’re looking for cheap pork, you won’t find it from any farmers like Paul and Ember. It’s impossible. But you will get the type of pork you expect from nature or as close to ‘from nature’ to get.
Paul and Ember are regulars at the Phoenixville Farmers Market and Paul is always happy to bend your ear about farming, pork and the stores and restaurants he works with. He doesn’t see what he does through rose-colored glasses and he will speak his mind if you let him. He’s a real character and someone you should meet if you want to understand farming and the business of farming at his level.
Ember is the sweetest farmer I met on my travels. She loves what she does and, like Paul, loves her animals. Many people don’t understand how farmers could love their animals while at the same time be planning their demise. Well they do and that is what makes the whole farming cycle real to these farmers and should make it real to consumers as well. They don’t see their animals as commodities and the care and love they give them rivals the Japanese who raise Kobe beef like their own infant child.
Ember even confided to me one day that she got so close to their sow, that when it came time to slaughter her she turned the duties over to Paul. The hogs were one thing, but when it came to the animal that produced these many hogs and had been with them for so long, Ember further reinforced the humanity of farming.