Those of you that follow me on Instagram probably saw a few dreamy photos of my recent trip to Belcampo’s Meat Camp. As promised, I wanted to share some more images and info on my experience.
Being from the East Coast, I was unfamiliar with Belcampo until Michelle Tam connected me to Anya Fernald, the company’s co-founder and CEO. Not only do they operate 7 butcher shop/restaurant locations in California, they also have their own 27,000 acre ranch at the base of Mt. Shasta, about 1 hour south of Ashland, Oregon. Michelle attended Meat Camp a couple of years ago (and talked about it here), and highly recommended I check it out. I’m so thrilled I did!
First of all, I have to say I was blown away by the accommodations! I mean, look at this…
Each tent comes with luxury sheets, cute little lanterns, and hides on the floor. Wouldn’t you absolutely love to stay here? Even if it wasn’t for meat camp, the tents alone were worth the trip.
After I dropped off my stuff… well actually, the airline lost my luggage, so I only had a backpack but luckily, my camera was on me… we gathered for a family-style dinner and learned about Belcampo and our fellow campers.
The food was absolutely incredible. Over the 3 day, 2 night experience, we enjoyed the best salami I’ve ever had, Korean short ribs, tender grilled lamb, a pig roast, plus free-flowing wine, amazing drip coffee and rich bone broth. Oh, and nearly everything was gluten free, including this plate of vegetable tempura!
The next day, we toured the farm. With over 1,200 head of cattle, 1,000 sheep, 175 pigs, 1,300 laying hens and an astounding 40,000 meat chickens, plus their own Animal Welfare Approved slaughterhouse on site, the scale of the farm blew me away. The animals were vibrant, bright-eyed and healthy looking. It was also noticeably the cleanest farm and nicest slaughterhouse I’ve ever visited.
With electric fencing and smart techniques, farms like Belcampo can manage their animals in a similar way to wolves in nature. The cattle, sheep and chickens are moved to fresh pasture on a frequent basis, producing healthier animals, plus meat and eggs with a much better fatty acid and antioxidant profile. This process also improves the quality of the land. Their grazing stimulates new growth, and their manure fertilizes the soil, inoculating it with healthy bacteria. The result is land that can hold water much more effectively, something critical in an arid area like Northern California. This process also helps the grass sequester carbon. In fact, cattle and other ruminants are one of our best chances at reversing climate change.
Our group spent time in the professional kitchen learning about different cuts of meat, how to prepare the perfect burger, and we also learned about cured meats. After tasting Belcampo’s salami, I’ll never be able to eat the standard stuff again!
Here I am learning how to trim different cuts of beef.
My fellow campers were really fun to chat with. Most of them came from the Bay Area, and all of them were serious foodies. I’m pretty sure we all loved the meals the best!
After dinner, we sat around the campfire and enjoyed the s’mores and whisky bar. Grown-up “glamping” at it’s finest!
On the last morning, I filled up with a huge bowl of bone broth before I headed back to Ashland.
I’m super impressed that Anya, as busy as she is, takes the time to be so hands on with the Meat Camp experience. She truly has a passion for connection her customers to how their food is produced. Plus, she’s a fantastic chef with her own cookbook, Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook, that every camper received as a parting gift. You can learn more about her background at Slow Foods and how she started the company by listening to my podcast with her here. Below, she slices two different steaks for us to taste.
Look for my article in the December issue of Paleo Magazine for more details on the experience. As you probably know, I highly recommend that everyone get to know their farmer, and what better way to do it than at Meat Camp? For more info, visit the Belcampo site. And you can even order their products online if you aren’t near one of their locations.