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Scotiabank AIDS Walk

Scotiabank AIDS Walk Charlottetown takes place September 10 at Victoria Park, Charlottetown. Join th [ ... ]

Camp Dynamo

Camp Dynamo will be held by the PEI Business Women’s Association September 29 at 4 pm to October 1 [ ... ]

Bluefield Natural Products—time-tested ways for today

The Story of Your Food
by Nina Linton

Bluefield Natural Products (photo: Nina Linton)Stroll into Bluefield Natural Products (BNP) and you might feel like you’ve stepped back to a bygone era.

Behind the porch-like screen door, blithesome butchers in tidy red aprons-wielding burnished blades and 45 years of combined experience—welcome customers with wide grins, offering supper suggestions as they saw sections of short loin into steaks.

Since it’s debut in 2011, the Cornwall business, owned by Wade Campbell and Donald Hay, has served up a nostalgic niche; tasty meat grown using sustainable farming methods, then conditioned and cut by knowledgeable hands.

For Campbell, opening a butcher shop selling naturally nurtured, homestead reared meat links the North Wiltshire resident with his grandfather, a farmer who, over 60 years ago, sold grass-fed beef in his small country store. A stickler for quality, the proprietor refused to carve up carcasses until they’d hung in a chilled crate for 21 days, releasing the meat’s robust and savoury flavour.

Today, the twenty-first century entrepreneurs follow a similar approach.“We are not reinventing the wheel here. This is how it was done years ago,” says Campbell. “It is old school meat.”

Crammed with crimson cuts, brawny briskets, and porcelain poultry, the shop’s sparkling showcase is a feast for the eyes, giving customers a local, organically grown alternative to supermarket shrink-wrap. “People want to know what they are eating. They want to know who is feeding it, what it is eating and everything else,” says Campbell, divulging exactly how all their animals have been reared.

After all, he says, they don’t just sell the final product; he and Hay raise most of it on a picturesque farm less than twenty minutes from the shop.

Their cattle are pastured, free from overstocking, growth hormones, as well as medicated and genetically modified feeds.

Their pigs and chickens are also raised following a strict “organic regime,” dining on oats, field peas, barley—all sprouted without the use of synthetically-produced chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers. “We’ve got about 800 acres under cultivation, and all are certified organic so all the feed coming back to the farm is also certified organic.”

But raising premium animals is just part of ensuring only quality meat winds up stamped with the BNP logo. Aging is the final step to superior beef says Campbell. Using a decades-old dry aging process, BNP butchers Rick Arsenault and John Betts transform hunks of beef into portions of protein teeming with taste, so soft it flakes at a utensil’s touch.

A lost art in today’s modern meat industry where cuts are quickly prepared for market and in the grocery store within days of harvest, the duo shelve slabs in carefully controlled cooler conditions, letting flavours intensify through moisture loss and natural enzymes tenderise the meat. BNP beef is aged 21 days. “To me it tastes like meat did 30 years ago,” says Campbell.

Customers, who gobble up the shop’s custom line of gluten free and celiac friendly deli meats and sausages, seem to agree. Some dedicated regulars drive from either end of the province, coolers in tow, ready to lug home a week’s supply of prime cuts.

For BNP’s loyal clientele, the initial appeal may be a desire to connect with their food, health concerns, or the truly farm to fork operation’s complete product traceability but, according to Campbell, they soon find themselves hooked on the taste of organically raised meat.

And he’s proud to offer consumers that choice. “It is pretty much what I look for when feeding my own family so why should anyone else get anything different?”

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