Dickson's Farmstand Meats Gives the City Its First Dog Food CSA
Part of being a whole-animal butcher, says Jake Dickson, is finding ways to use even the parts of the animal that aren't necessarily palatable to his customers at Dickson's Farmstand Meats. "We're able to use almost everything, but there's not enough of a market for every part of the animal that we bring in, even after we've tried to change it into other things."
So Dickson, who opened his butcher shop in the Chelsea Market a year and a half ago, is changing those things into dog food.
The new "dog-food program," Dickson explains, "allows us to close the loop completely so we're nearing zero waste." The parts that he doesn't have much use for, such as the 80 pounds of beef liver he receives each week, make ideal canine sustenance. But rather than just package and sell them as is, Dickson partnered with Stacy Alldredge, a dog trainer and canine nutritionist who, Dickson says, "is a big advocate of cooking real food for pets" instead of feeding them "all of the junk" (see: melamine) that goes into commercial pet food.
They concocted a product that's mainly vegetable-based, and uses produce from the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, their neighbor down the hall. And yes, it's seasonal: In addition to meat, it currently contains apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Alldredge tested the food on some of her clients -- or, more specifically, their dogs -- and got "spectacular feedback," Dickson says. "People would feed it to their dogs for three days, and then when they'd give them their regular food, the dogs would look at them like, 'What the fuck is this?'"