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Tails & Trotters' Silverman on Going from Poultry to Pork

Photo of Tails & Trotters courtesy Avila/EPDX

Before launching his porky purveyor/butcher's counter Tails & Trotters, co-founder Aaron Silverman focused on farming two products that — while delicious — are simply unfit for the Five Days of Meat: vegetables and poultry. In 1996, Silverman and his wife established Creative Growers outside Eugene, and while waiting for soil fertility to build up to a level that could sustain vegetable production, Silverman launched a poultry operation that was supposed to last for just "the first few seasons." But thanks to demand, it soon took on a life of its own: By 2001, Greener Pastures Poultry, a joint effort between Silverman and several other families, became a separate business, providing pasture-raised chickens and turkeys to restaurants and New Seasons Markets.

So how did a poultry and vegetable farmer end up shifting his focus to all pork, all the time? In this Five Days of Meat installment of Meatman Confidential, Silverman reminisces about the "crowning glory" moment that led him to a career in prosciutto-making and running a pork-only butcher shop.

In 2004, myself and GPP's turkey producer were sent to Turino as delegates to Slow Food's inaugural Terra Madre conference. All delegates got full access to the Salone del Gusto being held concurrently a few kilometers down the road. Not being a huge fan of conferences, I took full advantage of this access and spent nearly all my time perusing the vast aisles of fresh cheese, charcuterie, confections, and countless other products being sampled by producers from Europe and the world.

The crowning glory for me was the charcuterie aisle, which contained over a dozen different regional prosciutto — a concept completely foreign to me. Skeptical of the concept, I spent the better part of an afternoon tasting many of these prosciutto together and was quite surprised to find that there were indeed significant differences in flavor and textures.

Silverman says he returned to Oregon "inspired," despite the fact that Oregon's climate does not sustain acorns or chestnuts, the nuts traditionally used in European prosciutto. But Silverman "immediately started working with my nutritionist to develop a nut-finishing program to fatten pigs on hazelnuts for prosciutto... Our focus starts with the pig itself rather than the products we make — a reflection of the non-traditional path that's led me here."
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Tails & Trotters

525 NE 24th Ave., Portland, OR