The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Best Pork Chop Ever

February 18th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Posted in dinner

EcoFriendly: one heckuva pork chop

EcoFriendly: one heckuva pork chop

We get nearly all our meats delivered from our dairy, South Mountain Creamery. In addition to its own beef herd, South Mountain sells pork, lamb and poultry products from other local farmers. But one thing we’ve learned is that just because it’s local doesn’t always mean its good. We’ve had bacon from the farmers market that was really terrible. Recently, my wife put the kaibosh on the pork chops we were getting from South Mountain. They were too thin, and the flavor we were looking for just wasn’t there.

So this week I bit the bullet and spent $13 for two big pork chops from the EcoFriendly Foods stall at the Dupont Circle farmers market. EcoFriendly is the company started by Bev Eggleston, made famous by his association with libertarian farmer Joel Salatin. He sells meats and eggs raised by farmers in central Virginia. I was already familiar with his pork chops because of a story I had pitched long ago to the Washington Post food section, wherein I engaged chef Todd Gray, of Equinox restaurant, in a taste test.

Gray is a big booster of local farm products and particularly Bev Eggleston’s pork. For the test, I gathered pork chops from Safeway, along with what was then Niman Ranch brand pork from Whole Foods. Gray supplied the chops from EcoFriendly, then had one of his chefs cook them. The EcoFriendly chop was the clear winner, with Niman Ranch coming in a close second. The Safeway pork was obviously inferior–you could tell just by looking at it, that, dry, bland, cardboard stuff.

So I was anxious to see how these $13 pork chops performed and we weren’t at all disappointed.  They were a good thickness–about an inch–with huge streaks of fat. I seasoned them very simply with salt and pepper and cooked them on the stove-top, seared hard on both sides. The meat still had a rosy tint when cut.

Oh, but the flavor! This is what pork is supposed to taste like, meaty and succulent. We ate the chops with some of the braised cabbage we made earlier in the week, and fresh spinach–also from the farmers market–sauteed with balsamic vinegar. Thanks, Bev, for making such an outstanding pork chop. I just might have to include this with my weekly egg purchase at the Dupont Circle market.

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  • TruthSeeker

    Ed: Sorry to rain on your parade, but I think you deserve the full story on Bev at EcoFriendly Foods.

    First, Bev doesn’t raise all his own animals — he buys them from other suppliers. So he’s not really a farmer, he’s a middleman. Worse, he doesn’t pay his suppliers with an regularity — as one of them, I should know. In other words, he gets the profits and glory (from media attention like your blog), while the farmers who do the real work get a minimum cut only after months of pestering him. He’s either an utterly incompetent businessman or a self-aggrandizing scam artist, I can’t decide which.

    There are plenty of other farmers in the DC area to get quality local pork: just check out or similar sites. Finding another supplier would give you the quality you like without the ethical downsides of dealing with an shady individual like Bev.

  • Ed Bruske

    TS, I know that Bev Eggleston is only an aggragator of local farm products, not a farmer himself. I have no idea what kind of businessman he is, or how he treats his suppliers. All we see is the product displayed under his signage at the Dupont Circle farmers market, and of course the accolades he receives from chefs such as Todd Gray. Thanks for coloring in the gray areas. I hope you will continue to lend your voice to these pages.

  • colin.boggess

    Thank you Ed for your post. Great blog!

    TS…there are already enough challenges out there in the sustainable agriculture sector, both for farmers and for meat processors, for folks involved in this industry to be publicly ridiculing each other. While I can certainly understand if you haven’t been treated fairly or respectfully by Bev, he is providing a valuable service that few have stepped up to offer. Small family farms desperately need small-scale, USDA-certified meat processors!

    EcoFriendly Foods DOES NOT claim to raise their meats. In fact, they actually brag on their farmers every chance they get…it’s the media that twists the story, NOT Bev! To make sure that folks get the story right for now on, EcoFriendly is starting to actively highlight their farmers, their farms, and even their animals…on their website/blog, facebook, at market, in restaurants, in promotional materials, hopefully even on the product’s label itself, etc. While essential, this kind of work is extremely hard to focus on when you’re trying to keep a business running that inherently challenges the industrial food machine and all its powerful corporate and political allies…but believe me, it IS happening, especially behind the scenes. Every day, more and more energy is being put towards this end! Expect good things from EcoFriendly in 2010…2009 was actually the first year EcoFriendly Foods has broken even (since its founding in 2001)! They’re now poised to really start moving out of survival mode and into a passionate embracing of their true mission: “Weaving Sustainable Family Farms into the Fabric of American Life”

  • holly

    Bev is a farmer, I’ve visited him in his home next to his processing plant and I have seen the pigs and chickens he raises.

    When I first met Bev he promoted his farmers, explaining to me the reason he built a processing plant was because as a farmer he could not find a place that would slaughter his animals humanely.

    With few options Bev realized he could open a bottle neck so small farmers would have the opportunity to compete in the market. Oh yes, he also operates in two farmers markets.

    I learned a lot about symbiotic relationships and self sustaining systems from his manner of farming. And Bev’s plans to bring economic sustainability to his community continues to inspire me and some of the farmers I know.

    As an EcoFriendly investor, I understand the overwhelming expense involved in brining a processing plant into being. Bev has put everything he has into making this business grow. I am completely satisfied with my investment.