You know the quote, “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing”. Well, when it comes to meat sticks and jerkies, the most important thing is… the meat. This may seem obvious, but think of all the people who eat meat and don’t question where it comes from. There are quite a few choices for grass-fed beef sticks and bars out there, but when it comes to pork, the options are limited. That is why Roam Sticks are so exciting! Started by a 9th generation farming family in Missouri, these snack sticks are raising the bar for ethical, sustainable pork production in snack sticks.
John and Holly Arbuckle are the Founding Farmers for Roam Sticks. Roam Sticks are the first and only non-GMO, pasture-raised pork snack stick that is nationally available. The sticks combine delicious flavor, nutrition and cutting edge sustainability. The pork is naturally fermented, then smoked with real hickory smoke at an artisan smokehouse. Fermentation is achieved with a lactic acid starter culture and organic dextrose (cassava root) as the activator for the probiotic culture. The alternative to real fermentation and smoking is encapsulated citric acid (which contains a hydrogenated oil) and chemical smoke. The sticks are in a clear collagen casing. This is important because red dye is considered an “industry standard” in snack sticks, and does not need to be listed on the ingredients. If a snack stick looks unnaturally red, it probably has dye in the casing. (Yuck.)
They have two varieties, Hickory Smoked Pork with uncured Bacon and Hickory Smoked Pork with Pineapple. The taste is smoky, rich, with a slight hint of tang from the fermentation process. Both varieties have 1 gram of carb. The bacon stick is meaty, slightly juicy and smoky. The pineapple stick is savory and slightly sweet. Roam Sticks were made with the Arbuckle’s kids in mind. They wanted to have convenient, shelf-stable, pasture-raised pork for family adventures, and when they couldn’t find it, they decided to make it from their own farm animals.
The Arbuckles raise pigs on pasture and supplement with non-GMO feed. They produce about half of the meat for Roam Sticks. The rest is grown by other small farmers, like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. They guarantee no antibiotics, no growth stimulants (like Ractopamine) and no added hormones. (FYI, Ractopamine is banned in 160 countries, but legal in the US.)
At Singing Prairie Farm, the Arbuckles focus on reducing the pigs need for grains by grazing them in fields of high octane forage crops. Since pigs lack the digestive abilities of a cow or sheep to live on grass, they use crops which are usually intended for dairy cows. Kale, turnips, pea vines, clovers, alfalfa make up a good portion of their pigs’ diet. The hogs love acorns in the fall, and enjoy apples and pears even more. They’ve even been known to eat unsold jack o’ lantern pumpkins by the pallet load! And, they always have some 100% non-GMO grain on hand to supplement feed rations.
Why do the Arbuckles choose to feed so much forage? Because as everyone in the real food movement knows grains are not the sole answer to nourish a healthy animal. The more greens, acorns and pumpkins placed on the menu for the animals the more vibrant their health will be and the more nutrient dense it becomes. Feedlot beef lags far behind grass fed beef in terms of nutrition. The same is true for pork. You are what your animal ate. So choosing grass-fed or pasture-raised makes a huge difference in the nutritional profile of the meat.
Most new products are made by manufactures who can source their ingredients and make a compelling brand. Roam Sticks are different because they are produced by a farming family who have made a lifetime of working Farmer’s Markets and networking with other small farmers. This business model is a way for small farmers to access a national market.
Roam Sticks’ Endorsement from Joel Salatin: