Culinary students learn about veal, from farm to plate

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The Pennsylvania Beef Council partnered with Marcho Farms, Souderton and the beef checkoff, through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), to host an educational veal tour on Tuesday, April 9.  Two chef instructors and 18 students from the JNA Institute of Culinary Arts, Philadelphia, attended the one-day event, gaining a first-hand look at the veal industry.

Dr. Adnan Aydin, Director of Research and Nutrition, welcomed the group with an overview of the industry. “You probably cannot find a better example of sustainability than the veal industry,” said Aydin. “We take the by-product of the dairy industry (bull calves) and the by-product of cheese (whey) and make something valuable out of it.”

Marcho Farms began in 1969, when owner Wayne Marcho left a career in electronics and purchased his first veal calf at a local livestock auction. Today, Marcho Farms processes 1,500-1,700 veal calves per week. Nationally, they are recognized as a trailblazer in group housing, where special flooring material and design provide calves with a comfortable and clean environment.

After enjoying a lunch of veal cheeseburgers and veal parmesan sandwiches, the students were led on a walking tour of Marcho’s fabrication and slaughter facilities. They learned about the quality assurance measures implemented during processing, from machine handling and sanitization to shipping and sales.  “It met my expectations of how processing is done,” commented JNA culinary student Vinny Musgreaue. “It’s great to have this first-hand experience.”

The group also toured Marcho’s on-site milk replacer plant which opened in 1997. The plant features complete climate control, making it unique to the feed industry. Items produced include a starter, grower and builder, specifically designed to complement each stage of the growing process.

The day ended with an in-depth panel discussion and Q&A session hosted by industry experts including Wayne Marcho; Dr. Aydin; Ron Koenig, Director of Sales, Marcho Farms and Beth Ann Mumford, American Veal Association.

Topics included veal nutrition, issues management and quality assurance. Wayne Marcho also spoke about agriculture’s changing landscape. “In the world we live in today, agriculture has changed,” Marcho commented. However, their commitment to quality, Marcho explained, has not. “We start with quality on the farm and the feed we produce. We care about our company and we care about our consumers.”

As one of the nation’s leaders in veal production, Pennsylvania is perfectly positioned to provide future foodservice professionals with an up-close look at modern veal production.

JNA instructor Chef Michael DeLeuca agrees, “Two years of culinary school could not have taught these students what they learned during this one-day tour.”

To learn more about America’s veal farmers, visit www.vearlfarm.com or, for veal recipes, visit www.vealmadeeasy.com. To learn more about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.



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