Patrick Martins' Manifesto for Meat Eaters

June 24, 2014

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: Patrick Martins, founder of Heritage Foods USA, shows us the ropes of how to be a responsible (and realistic) carnivore. 

  The Carnivore's Manifesto

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Patrick Martins certainly isn't having an Omnivore's Dilemma. As the founder of Heritage Foods USA and Heritage Radio Network, and the co-author of The Carnivore's Manifesto: Eating Well, Eating Responsibly, and Eating Meat, the man knows his way around a lamb chop or a pork shoulder. And now, he's pushing Americans to eat meat smarter and more sustainably -- a noble goal indeed.

Don't expect to find Martins on a high horse, though; he's much more at home on the ground, with the farmers who supply the ethically-raised cuts of pork, beef, goat, and poultry that he ships around the country. While he admits that we're never going to live in a grass-fed utopia, that hasn't stopped him from getting worked up about the current state of American meat in The Carnivore's Manifesto

We'll take a side of his realistic optimism with our burgers any day. 

You founded Slow Food USA in the late 1990s. What drew you to the movement, and how is it still relevant today?
I was drawn to Slow Food because of founder Carlo Petrini’s charisma, but I find that the Slow Food movement's ideas are still very much the best way to think about sustainability. I'm a big fan of the Ark of Taste, its biggest project, and the next step, the Presidia. Those active interventions on behalf of slow farmers remain, to me, the wave of the future. 

How To Make A Great Burger

You work with many of the country’s top chefs, farmers, and distributors every day. Who inspires you, in terms of how they're raising and preparing meat? 
Farmer Frank Reese is pushing the boundaries by upholding the American Poultry Association's standards of perfection for raising poultry ethically. He’s being innovative by staying true to tradition, which is rare these days. Mark Ladner, executive chef of Del Posto, is another big inspiration to me. He placed the first order with Heritage Foods; started Lupa and Otto and Del Posto; and is now starting [the gluten-free fast food concept] Pasta Flyer, so he is definitely a big innovator. Most people I work with do things in traditional ways. Innovation can be inspiring, but it can also be a problem -- sometimes the simple recipes or techniques are still the best. 

More: Become the resident steak expert amongst your friends with this lesson on flank steak.

Bloody Good Steak on Food52

Your book The Carnivore's Manifesto preaches sustainable meat consumption. In light of that, what are some cuts or meats that people aren’t consuming, but should be? 
There’s only about six to eight livestock that the entire world eats, and they each have a few cuts. There are no "new" cuts. I roll my eyes when I hear about pig face sandwiches, or a pig trotter for a main course. I think it's important to use every part of an animal, but basically we’ve got breasts, strip steaks, chops, and a few other cuts. If we’re going to launch a sustainable alternative, we need to think of slow food like fast food, and play the game whose rules we know already.

Ground meat is the key to launching and supporting sustainable lamb, goat, and pasture-raised beef and pork. That’s the stuff of meatballs, pasta sauces, and burgers -- that's what people eat! We should be eating billions of pounds of ground meat from small, sustainable family farms. Really good meat should be the everyday option. It doesn’t have to be so spectacular.  

Every season has its meat, too -- it’s important to buy seasonal animals in bulk when they’re naturally available. October is the time for goat, November is for turkey, Easter is for lamb, July is the time for salmon. It’s important to eat those animals throughout the month, and not just at one elaborate meal. You also should buy the whole animal if you really want to get the most out of your meat.

More: Put that ground pork to use with these five great dinner options.

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You point out in the book that no one can completely avoid processed food. What are some of your guilty pleasures?
Pepperoni on my pizza. Gray’s Papaya hot dogs. Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. Peking duck pancakes with scallions and duck sauce. Those are all things I love. We don’t call for utopia in the book; we know that the bacon in every greasy spoon diner in America likely comes from a cruel system. But we should be trying to steer the train in the right direction. 

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What tips do you have for people looking to eat meat more responsibly?
Eat animals who have had sex. Eat animals in season. Demand no antibiotics. Buy from a purveyor you trust, or Heritage Foods, or the Meat Hook, or people who can tell you the name of the farm where that meat came from. Don't put any trust or faith in publicly-traded companies that put profit ahead of the health of animals and people. That’s a big goal, but we need to move towards that.

We're giving away two copies of The Carnivore's Manifesto! To enter, tell us in the comments: Which books have influenced the way you eat? We'll pick winners at random this Friday, June 27th.

Also! Heritage Foods is giving Food52ers a special promotion: Just use the code FOOD52 at checkout, and you'll get 2 free porterhouse pork chops -- a $25 value -- with any order of $50 or more.

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On Black & Highly Flavored, co-hosts Derek Kirk and Tamara Celeste shine a light on the need-to-know movers and shakers of our food & beverage industry.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I'm a former Food52 Julia Child Food Writing Fellow now studying law so I can make food fairer, more delicious, and more sustainable for everyone. I was born and raised in Montreal (mostly on poutine and matzoh ball soup), but in my heart I am an Italian grandma—I live on pizza and make a mean eggplant parmesan.


Jason T. June 25, 2014
Omnivores Dilemma and How to Cook Everything. That pretty much kicked it all off.
Jenali June 25, 2014
Mark Bittman's Food Matters made me think more about the food I'm eating. I'm currently reading We The Eaters by Ellen Gustafason.
Americanmade E. June 25, 2014
Who is going to be the first to donate on Kickstarter?
Justin Z. June 25, 2014
The China Study
EC1966 June 25, 2014
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taub and Cooked by Michael Pollan
Jessie June 25, 2014
Merely an echo at this point, but Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" led me to completely overhaul my eating habits and lose fifty pounds (25% of my body weight). Later, "Food Politics" by Marion Nestle and "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser further influenced my eating by changing my understanding of political and global food and what exactly I can do about it.
ieredraider June 25, 2014
along with books mentioned "Super Foods Rx, Fourteen foods that will change your life" by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews
Hernan J. June 25, 2014
I'd have to say The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
LLStone June 25, 2014
Tamar Adler's book "An Everlasting Meal" and Pollan's "The Omnivore Dilemma".
Bradley M. June 25, 2014
Michael Pollan's books: "The Omnivore's Dilemma", "In Defense of Food", and "Cooked". I was also moved pretty significantly by Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". And, of course, I can't leave out the masterpiece by Sandor Katz, "The Art of Fermentation". All of these works have inspired me to work persistently at the craft of cooking and the joy of eating.
Jo B. June 25, 2014
Michael Pollan's multiple books, and year's ago Laurel's Kitchen and the original Vegetarian Epicures (I'm an omnivore).
Judith R. June 25, 2014
Robert Capon's "Food for Thought: Resurrecting the Art of Eating." I came across a copy in the early '80s and it was the first place I'd ever encountered a book that taught me to think about the animal I was going to cook and eat with gratefulness and respect and how to spatchcock a chicken at the same time. I highly recommend finding a copy if you can.
Judith R. June 25, 2014
And obviously, Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. But Capon's book was my first encounter with considering the actual animals I was eating. Even 30 years ago, there were people starting to think...
Westcoasty June 25, 2014
The Omnivore's Dilemma. Reading about Polyface Farms enchanted me so much that over time, my entire attitude towards food, cooking, and even life has changed 100%. I used to loathe cooking, but now I enjoy it, more and more. Cooking from scratch seems less like a nuisance and more like a way of life that we have moved away from to our detriment.
redorgreen126 June 24, 2014
Nourishing Traditions, Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense on Food, Real Food... I love food books!
ChrisM. June 24, 2014
River Cottage meat book along with "fat" changed the way I considered meat/ livestock & sustainability. Use Culinary Artistry as a guide for relationships between ingredients.
Ryan R. June 24, 2014
Culinary Artistry was very influential starting off in the culinary world and The United States of Arugula was a great read about the evolution of the culinary culture in America.
Blue S. June 24, 2014
We are lucky and have a great butcher.
Tim D. June 24, 2014
The World's Healthiest Foods by George Matelljan . It's a great book. Whether you use as a reference guide, a recipe book, or a good read. It gives great info. ,on so many different topics. It's great to have handy.
Jamie C. June 24, 2014
I'm working on starting up a sustainable and locally sourced barbecue restaurant and butcher shop. I, and my future customers, could really benefit from this book.
Shannon F. June 24, 2014
Grain Brain by David Perlmutter because it helped me understand how what I eat can impact my cognitive function. Molto Gusto by Mario Batali because Mario has great ideas about how to make vegetables more exciting.