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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Meat Shop Sellling Top Notch Pork

James Olsen co-owns Whitten Printers in South Phoenix, but he also harbors another passion: Cooking.

“I’m always looking for good food,” he said. “I’ve been searching for a great place to buy pork.”

His wishes were answered last July, when Tim and Beth Wilson opened The Meat Shop on Buckeye Road and 2nd Street not far from his print shop. Though they only sell pork, they hope to expand into other meats eventually.

“The pork is miles ahead of what you’d buy in the stores around here,” Olsen said. “This is right up there with the best pork I’ve ever had.”

He is one of any number of food fanatics who have discovered the Meat Shop. It’s housed in a building adjacent to a Laundromat that doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside, the place sparkles.

A tiny front area houses a small counter, a freezer case and a table with a box of recipes. An oversized window lets customers see clearly into the spotless processing area, which holds stainless steel tables, a magnetic knife rack, walk-in coolers and an easy-to-clean epoxy floor.

The Wilsons and their children, Rachel, 19, and Joshua, 16, raise the hogs on land leased in Palo Verde, west of Buckeye.

“We home school,” Beth Wilson said. “A lot of the schooling has been at the barn. They learn about the health of the animals; constructing; responsibility.”

Though she’s a nurse, she’s learned a lot on the farm too, she added.

Tim Wilson, who still also has career in construction, built the barn himself. Pigs don’t sweat, so he installed a misting system and uses cross-breezes to keep them cool during hot weather.
They use Yorkshire pigs, which are white and sunburn easily, so they’re kept in the barn in roomy pens. They’re a gentle breed known to be good mothers – some pigs tend to kill their young.

The hogs are raised naturally, with no hormones, and they’re fed corn with minerals and soybean meal that is ground fresh weekly. They get a small dose of iron (piglets can be anemic) and a shot to prevent respiratory illness when they’re a week old, but that’s it. Many larger producers use antibiotics throughout the pigs’ lives until a certain point before slaughter when they have to cease due to regulations.

The Wilsons have about 300 pigs and send about 20 per month out for slaughter. Tim Wilson and employee Paul Randolph do the butchering, and no salt or additives are used.

“It’s juicier, you get more yield out of it,” said Alban Newton, a chef with Bon Appetit corporate dining. “It’s got a better flavor.”

The Wilsons said many of their customers – like Alban and Olsen – are chefs and “foodies” who are looking for local, natural, high-quality meat. Tim Wilson said the fact that their pork is low-salt is good for people with heart conditions or high blood pressure.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we can produce something that’s really, really good, and it’s low-salt and it’s good for you,” he said.

Olsen said one of the main reasons he shops with them, though, are the prices. Signs on corkboard behind the counter list them: Pork chops are $3.50 a pound; tenderloin, $4.99 a pound; ground pork, $2.99 a pound.
The Wilsons are partnering with the German Sausage Company in Phoenix to offer cured hams, bacon and sausage starting in December. They’ll start selling at farmers markets, including the one in downtown Phoenix, too.

Down the line, the Meat Shop will have its own smokehouse (it’s being built next to the processing area) and they might sell prepared foods such as ready-to-heat pulled pork.

The focus for now, though, is to sell fresh meat. Most of the inventory is processed and flash-frozen at minus 23 degrees, which does little damage to the cell walls so it still tastes fresh once it’s thawed.

The Wilsons are compiling an e-mail list of customers who want to know when they butcher, so they can come in and buy it before it’s frozen.

The Meat Shop

Where: 202 E. Buckeye Road, Phoenix.

Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; call first – hours subject to change depending on processing schedules.

Information: 602-751-8756.

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