Chilebrown at home

Monday, August 9, 2010


The University of California Davis has a very special department. It is the ‘Department of Animal Science’. Why is this department so special? They operate a non secret meat store that is open, Thursdays and Friday afternoons. It is open to students and the public. This is a working laboratory for education and research. According to their web site; “Students receive hands-on training in slaughter, fabrication, sanitation, and further processing of meat and meat products while they are enrolled in Animal Science”. Yes and they also sell very high quality meat products. It is time to embark on a Meat Adventure to U.C. Davis.

We zoomed up to Davis in the Ms. Goofy’s formula one racing Honda in no time at all. We entered UC Davis campus and drove around till we found a small sign inviting us to the meat sale.

There is not a whole lot to this market, but a couple of refrigerators, cash register and a herd of students all crammed in a small room. Once you make your way to the refrigerators you have to sort through various cuts of meat, all wrapped in shrink wrap. It is possible to pre-order custom cuts of meat. The tomato’s are beginning ripen and it is time to make some bacon. I sent an e-mail earlier to Caleb Sehnert the Manager and instructor of the Meat laboratory, requesting a whole pig belly with the rind removed. This was no ordinary belly; it was a beautiful 8.5 pound slab of Yorkshire swine. I met Caleb Sehnert and flashed him a Mad Meat Genius business card. I told him about some of our past meat adventures. He asked me if I would like a tour of the facilities. You should have seen the grin on my face.

We left the public area and ventured into the Meat Laboratory. Caleb showed me the meat lockers that had some good looking meat hanging for future butchering. The smoker was huge and looked like a space pod. This smoker was very high tech. You could program this monster to any degree or time of your desire. We approached a room called the “killing floor’. I was a little nervous about this part of the tour. I usually buy my meat cut, packaged and wrapped. We entered this room and the first thing I noticed was how antiseptically clean everything was. I will spare you the details of this room except for this one machine called the hog scalder. This crazy looking contraption removes the hair from the pig. Lastly I was shown the lab where they test for e-coli and do other experiments.

Let’s get this out of the way. No, the meat did not glow in the dark. They did not sell Frankenmeat. Yes, organs and blood are used in research. The rest of the meat is used for teaching butchering skills. The Meat Laboratory sells quality cuts of pigs, lambs, and cattle. This is not your Mega-Wally cuts of meat that comes from some feet lot from the Midwest. These are high quality animals that are raised and cared for by students. The prices are very reasonable. We shall return! Oh by the way, I was pondering about returning to academia. “Caleb, do you need a Mad Meat Genius for your staff?”

University Califronia Davis Meat Laboratory


Greg said...

We love to trip on up to Davis. What a find. Zoomie turned us on to the olive oil they sell there. Now we have to check out the meat. A stop at the Pedrick Road vegetable stand and we have a meal.

Chilebrown said...

I have not tried the olive oil yet. Pedricks is a must stop when ever we pass by. The steak we had was one of the best ever. Tell Caleb the Mad Meat Genius sent you.

Zoomie said...

Wow, I didn't know about this! Must trek up there on a Thursday or Friday next time. We enjoy eating lunch at the old City Hall, which has been repurposed into a very attractive restaurant with nice tables where you can eat outside in the shade.

cookiecrumb said...

OMG. I have to go there. You have given me three killer reasons, the best of which is that pork belleh. Thanks for the tip about pre-orderibg.

Anonymous said...

Very cool! What are you going to do with a whole pork belly? Re: the slaughtering part, if I had to participate in any of that, I'd be a vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, that brings back some good memories... my alma mater had a farm store too. That meat looks beautiful.

Andrew said...

Very cool-Ohio State has a similiar set up, which I take advantage of as often as I can.

meathenge said...

Best post EVER !!!!

xo, Biggles

Chilebrown said...

Zoomie, Santa Rosa farmers market is very nice. Willie Bird is right down the street.

Cookiecrumb, Here is another reason to go. The Sudwerks in Davis for a litre of Marzen beer.

highlandsranchfoodie, make bacon of course you silly girl. The slaughter is necessary. I am just glad there are other people that will do it.

Zia, The steak pictured was on the list of best steaks ever. Sandwiches were even better.

Andrew, We have three or four UC campuses in Ca. with AG programs. We plan to check out their meat markets in the future. We will return to Davis.

Chilebrown said...

Reverend, You will have to come with us next time.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I just found our that our university does the same thing and am planning a trip over there for some pork.

Rene said...

Chile, this looks awesome. When my dad went to Rutgers he said he worked on a farm on campus for 'scientific purposes'. If it's the same thing I'm heading right over. If not, well then I'm not asking any questions.


Chilebrown said...

food-fire, sounds like a good deal. Somebody from work is going to Davis today and I asked him to pick up some chops for me. Oboy!

Rene, drop everything and go to the college right now. You have a beautiful WSM that is hungry for smoking material. Take lots of pictures and report back.

Robert said...

When I first saw it, I thought you wrote "secret meat store" instead of "not secret meat store." Somehow, the idea of a secret meat store is very compelling, though I guess it's better that people can actually find out about it and go

Fantastic post!

Chilebrown said...

Robert, The market is not advertised as far as I know. It was a great meat find. Let's keep it a secret betwen You and I, okay?