Big Meat on Campus

Posted on
Luke Saladin

UK butcher shop offers local, specialized meat to students and public


Meat scientist Gregg Rentfrow (left) and Meat Lab manager Ryan Chaplin at the UK Meat Shop. PHOTO BY ROBBIE CLARK

Could grass-fed beef and various styles of charcuterie one day replace the late-night pizza and microwavable meals as the food of choice on college campuses?

While that might be a bit of a stretch, the local food movement is nonetheless making inroads into college dining menus across the country, including the University of Kentucky.

The UK College of Agriculture Meats Lab and UK Dining Services over the past few years have developed a program to add more locally produced meats to meals served on campus. This effort has proven so successful, in fact, that the university recently opened a campus butcher shop that specializes in meats produced at the university or by local farmers.

“Basically we are fulfilling two missions with this program,” said Gregg Rentfrow, a meat scientist in the UK Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “We are promoting Kentucky agriculture and at the same time preparing our students for what it’s like in the workplace.”

Old world pepperoni

Dry-aged pork loin

Summer sausage

The butcher shop offers a variety of products that vary according to the time of year and what topic students are studying in their classes. Common items include dry-aged ground beef, chorizo, cured bacon and breakfast sausage.

University officials say the butcher shop grew out of an initiative to use more local meats – particularly pork and beef – in meals served at the university.

Scott Kohn, executive chef and assistant director of dining services at the University of Kentucky, said the university found the most economical way to buy local meats was to purchase whole livestock.

“We found that the prime cuts would move much faster than some of the other cuts – the odds and ends you might call them,” Kohn said. “In order for us to move more weight so we could continue buying whole livestock, we started looking at more value-added production with some of these other meats.”

Kohn said, for example, some of the leftover pork products could be ground up to make charcuterie, which could be sold at campus eateries. Now, such items can also be sold in the butcher shop.

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