For many years, EcoFriendly Foods has been conducting extensive R & D to prove to the USDA that we can dry-cure meat without preservatives. It has been a long, demanding, and sometimes frustrating journey, but our persistence and diligence have finally paid off! As of 2011, we officially have a USDA-inspected Charcuterie operation on-site at our processing facility in Moneta, Virginia, with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) Plans for a variety of products, including Prosciutto, Bacon, and Coppa.
Our Charcuterie operation is one of just a few in America (under USDA-inspection) that is curing without the use of ANY preservatives. We do it the Old-World way, like Italian and Spanish food-crafters have been doing for centuries. The only ingredients we use to preserve our meats are salt, sugar, and time. And of course lots of love and care, checking on them several times every day. Each time, we collect data pertaining to temperature and humidity levels, and then make adjustments as needed.
This consistent daily monitoring is exactly what the USDA needs in order to approve such unprecedented curing methods. It doesn’t matter that this is the way it was always done (before the emergence of the USDA and preservatives)…for the USDA, curing has always been done with preservatives. To them, it is the only safe curing method. It is the method that their inspectors are trained to understand and inspect. While it may be a bit frustrating that the USDA so often only understands and embraces one way of doing things (not just in the inspection world but also in agricultural production), it does nobody any good to go around accusing them of corporate favoritism and blaming them for all of our food problems. The USDA is NOT our enemy. They exist to protect the American people by ensuring the safety of their food. This is their job, and they do it to the best of their ability. If we want them to do something differently, or to embrace new ways of thinking, we have to work with them. We have to operate and dialogue within the mental and legal framework that they understand.
At EcoFriendly Foods, this is exactly what we have been trying to do for years. Our aim is to understand the USDA – their language, their paradigm, their mission – and to cooperate with them from within the paradigm that they know.