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