Herb and Kathy Eckhouse founded La Quercia (pronounced La Kwair-cha) to make artisan cured meats like prosciutto and pancetta. They source ingredients that are produced responsibly and use their own recipes to craft them into award-winning meats. Their inspiration came from living for over three years in Parma, Italy, where they witnessed high quality ingredients being made into fine local cured meats. Read details of the meat curing process on their website.
La Quercia pork comes from sustainable producers and is mostly raised and slaughtered within 200 miles of their facility. They use organic spices when possible and sea salt from the United States. They built their first facility with energy-efficient materials and the “greenest” refrigerant. The new curing space added in 2009 includes high density, non-ozone-depleting polyurethane foam and heat recovery from the refrigeration compressors, and they’ve installed high efficiency fluorescent lighting and on-demand hot water heaters. Their landscaping uses low maintenance prairie grasses, native flowers, and oak trees. Their packaging involves several measures to reduce waste and emissions.
La Quercia uses a fair-trade system to ensure that the farmers they buy from can stay in business. They visit the farmers who raise their pigs and set standards to ensure the welfare of the animals. Pigs must have access to the outdoors, room to move around, and deep bedding to root in; they cannot receive non-therapeutic antibiotics, ionophores, hormones, or synthetic hormones and cannot be fed animal byproducts. La Quercia uses no pigs from CAFOs (large animal confinement facilities). They work with small suppliers like B&B Farm (who feed their hogs a diet of at least 60% acorns for three months, in addition to wild forage and high-quality grains), Becker Lane (a sixth generation farm that is certified organic), Eden Farms (a coalition of family farms that raise purebred Berkshire pigs), and Heritage Acres. They buy heritage-breed Tamworth pork from the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, including the Acorn Tamworth hogs that spend their last months foraging in a fruiting oak and hickory forest. They also buy from Niman Ranch and The Organic Prairie Cooperative.
See photos of the farms on their website, http://laquercia.us/.