A Meat Processor With Nothing To Hide

Heavy Table
Thanks to Ron Epstein

[…] Lorentz Meats has been doing things a little bit differently from the mainstream ever since the Lorentz family started the business in Cannon Falls in 1967. During decades when the industry’s focus was on building ever-bigger plants to handle the mass production of inexpensive meat, Lorentz stayed small, partnering with local farmers who might only bring one animal a month to slaughter. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Lorentz brothers, who had taken over the family business from their parents a few years before, built a bigger, more modern plant. With the new building, they were able to meet requirements for USDA approval, which in addition to their organic certification made them an attractive partner for farms in the booming market for natural and organic meat. Now they process about 10,000 animals a year with a staff of 60 employees.

But as they’ve grown – and they’re still tiny relative to the Cargills and Smithfields of the world – they’ve stayed unique. The existence of the viewing deck on which Mike and I stand is ample evidence of that. The Lorentz brothers built it so that their customers could verify with their own eyes how Lorentz goes about its business. What’s more, they make it available to anyone who wants to drive out to Cannon Falls and see for themselves what the slaughter and processing of meat entails. In an industry whose main marketing strategy is to stay out of the public eye, this sort of transparency is unheard of. It won kudos from none other than Michael Pollan, who gave Lorentz an honorable mention for what he calls their “glass abattoir” in the foodie bible The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Partly as a result of this exposure, Lorentz gets hundreds of visits a year from people curious about just how their food makes it to their table.[…]

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