Frequently asked questions
What does “Full-Circle Farming” mean?
Riverview Farms practices Full-Circle Farming. That means that their land supports their livestock, and the livestock supports their land - building soil fertility for growing all of their animals’ feed and produce. It’s a balancing act and essential to understand the capacity of the pastures, fields, and forests, in order to never use artificial or toxic means to force the land or the animals to yield more. Full-Circle Farming techniques exceed organic standards and harken back to a time when farming did not depend on outside, artificial support. It means living in harmony with the cycles of nature. It means using natural cycles to increase the fertility of the soil over time: cover cropping, crop diversity, composting, and rotational grazing through pasture and forest. The vitality of the soil is the bottom line for every farming decision.
It means that animals happily roam in the fresh air of the pastures, forests, and swamps of their home, every day. The animals at Riverview Farms are bred, born, and raised on the farm, and they grow everything that the animals eat. Now, with Pine Street Market, the Full Circle concept extends to your Butcher. The Bacon, Sausages, fresh pork & beef that you buy from Chop Shop exist only inside this circle.
One bite and you’ll know the difference that full-circle farming makes. When you taste succulent heritage pork or a fragrant juicy melon, you can take comfort in knowing that this good-for-you-and-the-world practice is not only sustainable, it’s delicious too!
What is "Whole Animal Butchery"?
Pine Street Market has been practicing Whole Animal Butchery since opening in 2008. It is a craft recognized by the Butcher’s Guild, which was established in 2011 after recognizing the growing trend of local butcher shops that are committed to practicing whole animal butchery, and to help to preserve the craft and ensure that the next generation can carry on the art.
'Whole animal' or 'whole beast' refers to using the entire animal -- all the bits that are left after cutting out the mainstream cuts that most people are familiar with (i.e. Ribeye, NY Strips, Tenderloins, etc.). The benefits of whole animal butchery are multi-fold: 1) you know where your meat came from, 2) you know the quality standards of the small local farmers your butcher works with, 3) the freshness of the meat is superior to almost any meat you can buy in the grocery store, and 4) using every single piece of an animal, instead of throwing food out, is important for creating a sustainable food system.
It is generally more expensive and more labor-intensive for Butcher Shops to practice Whole Animal Butchery for multiple reasons. Pine Street Market does it because they believe in minimizing waste and promoting a sustainable local food system - it’s important for our community. Chop Shop believes the same. Not only is whole animal butchery a craft that requires skill, it requires local infrastructure, such as farmers, distributors, and processing plants. All of these entities were mainstays in every town 60-70 years ago, but since World War II, our food system has become increasingly centralized, originating from the need to feed American troops stationed abroad and further growing due to “institutional inertia” – it was easier to keep promoting the same mentality when the war ended than finding alternative uses for the new infrastructure. People have been the force to halt that “institutional inertia” by taking a greater role in understanding where their food comes from, caring about the impacts of commodity farming on the well-being of the animals and the impacts on our environment, and caring about minimizing waste and utilizing everything we can in innovative ways to enrich our food experience. Related, whole animal butchery begs the question, “What exactly can I do with all the parts of the animal?” Pine Street Market’s butchers get creative and make wonderful charcuterie like Rillettes, Pâtés, Cured Meats, Salami, and Terrines, not to mention their assortment of Artisan Sausages and specialty provisions, such as Leaf Lard, Tallow, Beef Butter, Bone Broth, and their delicious signature Bacon Jam.
Does the meat you sell contain hormones or antibiotics?
Nope, not ever!
What exactly does pasture-raised mean and why does it matter?
“Pasture Raised” means that the animals were raised on pasture or with access to a pasture, not continually confined indoors. Raising animals on pasture is not the industry standard; the vast majority of dairy cows and beef cattle are confined indoors or in outdoor feedlots for a portion of their lives and fed a high-grain feed ration, rather than being allowed to graze on pasture. The vast majority of chickens and pigs are raised inside with no access to the outdoors.
Pasture-Raised animals are not only happier and less likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but their meat and fat contains significantly more vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants than those raised in confinement. These nutrients aid in reducing inflammation and cardiovascular disease as well as promoting good overall health. In fact, the lard from pasture-raised hogs has been found to contain up to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per tablespoon and contains less saturated fat and more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat than butter and coconut oil.
Is your meat humanely raised?
Absolutely. Chop Shop’s primary source of meat is Riverview Farms. Riverview Farms practices Full-Circle Farming, adhering to humane and sustainable farming practices. In addition to allowing their animals to freely roam their pastures, forests, and swamps, they follow high animal husbandry standards.
Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock and deals with the feeding, breeding, housing and health care of livestock. According to World Health Organization (WHO), ‘health’ is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. A healthy animal eats, drinks, and sleeps well. These are the values embodied by Riverview Farms.
Raising healthy animals begins at birth. When calves and piglets are allowed to nurse longer, it allows them to receive much of what they need to stay healthy from their mothers' milk. Healthy piglets and calves can then transition to enjoy a diet full of their favorite foods, whether that be foraged melons and acorns or grass and grain.
In addition to Riverview Farms, we source from farmers that adhere to strict humane and sustainable farming practices. We are proud to support several local farmers and ranchers that we not only buy from every week but have built a community of friends and colleagues that share the same passion for raising humane meat, local sourcing, and a dedication to educating and enriching the collective we serve. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with some of the best farmers in the southeast that play such a vital role in our society and food community.
What kind of farms do you work with?
We primarily source from Riverview Farms, but because Chop Shop endeavors to support our local community and offer an assortment of products to our customers, we work with several dairy and meat farms as well. We take a lot of pride in our partnerships with local and regional farmers and ranchers. We know our farmers by name, and they know us. We visit with the farmers we want to work with to ensure that our values and commitment to sustainability and humane farming is shared by all.
How fresh is the pork from riverview farms?
The pork available in most large grocery chains may be several months old, having been stored frozen for several months and thawed to sell as fresh cuts. Unlike most pork producers, Riverview Farms operates on a continuous harvesting cycle, which means that hogs are harvested every week and delivered fresh, never frozen. Pork arrives at Pine Street Market for butchering the day after harvesting, which means you have access to the highest quality, fresh pork available on the market. It makes a difference – you can taste the difference.
How can I find out about special offers?
JOIN THE HERD! Stay up-to-date on Chop Shop events, classes, and special offerings by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Does your meat contain sodium nitrate/nitrite?
USDA regulations require that all dry-cured meat products contain sodium nitrate/nitrite for consumer safety. Pine Street Market’s bacon, salami, and whole muscle cures contain small amounts of nitrates/nitrites; the amounts of residual nitrates/nitrites are very low in the final product. For example, a serving of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, beets, or lettuces has somewhere between 1,000-1,600 ppm of nitrates, while a serving of salami has 120 ppm.
Meat products that claim “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” are using vegetable powder or juice such as that derived from celery, instead of curing salt, though both contain the same nitrate compound; you may notice the asterisk underneath the claim “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” that states “except those naturally occurring in sea salt or celery powder.” The use of vegetable sources of nitrates allows these producers to make products loaded with sodium nitrate while legally being able to claim "no added nitrates." This is because the nitrates are in the sea salt and celery powder/juice.
What is sodium nitrate/nitrite and why is it used in dry-cured meat products?
Sodium nitrate/nitrite has been used since the 1800s to prevent meat spoilage. Sodium nitrate/nitrite is a naturally occurring compound that has antimicrobial properties when added to food. Sodium nitrate occurs naturally in all types of vegetables such as beets, celery, and greens as well as fruits and grains – basically, anything that grows from the ground draws sodium nitrate from the soil. Notably, when we eat vegetables, fruits, and grains that contain sodium nitrate, our body naturally converts sodium nitrate to sodium nitrite. Similarly, sodium nitrate is converted to sodium nitrite through the loss of an oxygen atom during the curing process. Importantly, sodium nitrite is the compound that is particularly effective at preventing the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that produce botulism toxin – one of the most lethal toxins known. Sodium nitrite is further reduced to nitric oxide, which reacts with myoglobin, a red protein containing heme (an iron-containing compound) that carries and stores oxygen in muscle cells.
To explain why nitrates/nitrites are used in dry cured meat, here is a bit of background on the meat curing process: The presence of curing salt (a mixture of sodium nitrate/nitrite and table salt) at the start of the curing process is necessary for the elimination of harmful bacteria, such as enterobacteriacea and Clostridium botulinum spores. Salt inhibits the growth of these harmful bacteria by drawing water out of the microbial cells through osmosis. As the unwanted bacterial population dies off, other beneficial bacteria such as those belonging to the Lactobacillus genus, begin to grow. These good bacteria utilize the sugar included in the cure as a food source, and their growth generates an acidic environment (around 4.5 pH) through the production of lactic acid. This process is a form of fermentation, and in addition to reducing the ability of the harmful bacteria to grow, it accounts for the tangy flavor of some cured meat products. Nitrate and Nitrite Compounds not only help kill bacteria, but also give cured meats that characteristic color you’ve come to know.
The usage of either compound is carefully regulated in the production of cured products; in the United States, their concentration in finished products is limited to 200 ppm and is usually lower. By comparison, a serving of spinach, beets, or lettuces has anywhere from 1,000-1,600 ppm of nitrates.
Do you host private events?
We do not normally host private events due to the size of the space and the fact that we are a Retail Butcher Shop, but we would be glad to discuss your needs with you to determine if we can accommodate your request.
Please, call our Store at (404) 370-1818 or email (email@example.com) to discuss with the Manager.
Why do you brine pork and poultry?
Why Brine? Brining makes lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, and pork juicier and more flavorful! How? Meat Science! Not only does the brining solution help prevent moisture loss during cooking but it also perfectly seasons the meat. Brining will give you piece of mind by helping your loins, chops, and hams stay juicy and delicious as they cook. Chop Shop sells Pine Street Market Hog Wash and Brown Sugar Bird Brine. With your purchase of brine, you will receive general brining instructions.
Do you do special orders?
We welcome special orders and we will do our best to accommodate your request. Please, email our Retail Manager for inquires (Rohaan@chopshopatl.com).
If you’re looking for a sausage Chop Shop does not offer, you may visit Pine Street Market’s Online Store and choose “Do Your Wurst,” which is a special 5-pound order of Artisan Sausage handmade by the Pine Street Market Butchers.
What's the best way to cook a steak?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked! Visit Chop Shop’s Recipe page for Steak Cooking Tips.
What's the best way to cook sausage?
Have you ever had a cookout and ended up serving leathery, dry sausages? It makes for a sad moment. We recommend grilling your sausages and then braising them in a beer bath where they can stay warm and juicy until you're ready to serve! See Butcher Rusty’s Beer Braised Sausage recipe on the Chop Shop Recipe Page!
What is the best way to cook bacon?
This is a question we’re often asked! Is there a right way to cook bacon? We don’t know if it’s the “right way,” but it’s how we do it!
Stove Top: Start with a room temperature sauté pan. Lay the bacon in the pan side-by-side and avoid over-crowding. Cook the bacon on medium heat, flipping occasionally for even cooking.
Oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lay out the bacon side-by-side and avoid overcrowding. Bake in the oven for approx. 10 min and flip. Monitor the bacon every couple of minutes until it reaches the desired doneness.
How long can I keep meat in the refrigerator?
All of our poultry items are vacuum sealed and should be consumed or frozen within 3-5 days of receipt. Fresh ground meat and fresh sausages, such as Bratwurst, Country, Chorizo should be consumed or frozen within 2-3 days of purchase. Fresh cuts of beef and pork (steaks, roasts, and chops) should be consumed or frozen within 4-5 days of receipt.
Smoked sausages, such as Kielbasa and Smoked Chicken should be consumed or frozen within 4-5 days of receipt. Cooked, ready-to-eat meats should be consumed within 4-5 days. Heritage Bacon will last in its original vacuum sealed packaging for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator; slices from the deli case will last up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Sliced cured meats, such as Coppa, Speck, Bresaola will last for 3 weeks (Because our artisan cured meats are sliced thin, once sliced and exposed to air, they will be prone to drying out, so we recommend enjoying them within 2 days of purchase.)