A Quick Bite with Chris Carter and James Peisker, Co-Founders of Porter Road
Porter Road is a farmer’s market stand turned national butcher. Chris Carter and James Peisker started their company as an ode to the perfect cut of meat and an antidote to unsustainable butcher practices. The two both have a history of working in kitchens, but what brought them together is the belief that they can change the food system — starting with the meat industry.
Bowery chatted with Carter and Peisker to learn more about their pasture-raised standards and approach in the seventh installment of our Q&A series, A Quick Bite.
How did you two meet (no pun intended) and bring to life your vision of nationwide access to high quality meat to life?
Chris: We met working in kitchens in Nashville and both had the same passion for flavorful food and transparency in the system, educating the consumer, truth in the menus, and meat that was raised right. Meat that is raised better, tastes better.
James: It’s been a long, bumpy road that has taken lots of dedication, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. We’ve been able to grow a small farmer’s market stand into a national meat company. We’re a mission-driven, quality sustainable brand.
You both come from a background working in restaurants, how do you think that has changed your approach when running Porter Road?
James: It drives all our decisions as butchers — it affects the way we’re going to cut, prepare, and age our products. We’re always thinking in terms of flavor.
Chris: We see every cut as a finished product on someone’s plate. I know exactly how I would prepare every steak we sell.
At Bowery, we’re constantly innovating ways to grow our greens with the least amount of resources possible. What does your company do to ensure sustainable meat production?
Chris: We are a vertically integrated company. We own our own slaughterhouse, we process our own meat, we’re there every step of the way.
James: An important aspect is having 100% transparency in our production. We work directly with small farms. We have an affidavit that all our farmers have to sign that says they uphold the Porter Road quality standard. [We vet our partners against the highest possible standards and regularly visit their farms to make sure the animals are raised outside, fed vegetarian, non-GMO feed, and given proper attention at every stage.]
With reports surrounding climate change impact and biodiversity loss, some have turned to plant-based diets. For those who still want to enjoy meat, many sources recommend reducing weekly consumption. What should consumers be looking for when purchasing high-quality meat to ensure it’s sustainably produced?
Chris: An important preface, I think, is that plant based meats and places like Porter Road are all fighting the same fight. We’re trying to change the system.
“Pasture-raised” is the most important to us because the animal being raised out on pasture requires the animal to be raised outside, on green grass, which they’re going to get exercise and also won’t need antibiotics. By being pasture-raised, too, they’ll eat a more natural diet than if they were in confinement.
James: All of us should become conscious consumers in the way we select the products we use. In this capitalist society, you get to vote with every hard-earned dollar you spend, so make sure you’re choosing to vote for sustainability.
What would you like to see with the future of the meat industry?
James: For it to completely change. It needs to be decentralized and for the focus to be put back on the farmers, and the people taking care of the animals.
Chris: Also with a focus on regenerating the land.
When you’re not hand-cutting meat or checking up on farms, where can we find you on a day off?
Chris: If I had a hobby I could choose, I would pick fishing or golfing.
James: Day off? [Laughs]. To relax, I’d say for both of us, it would be cooking for our families, spending time with friends, trying to be outside as much as possible.
We usually ask guests what vegetable dish they would eat for the rest of their life, but we’ll change up for you guys. What’s your favorite veggie side to serve alongside Porter Road meat?
Chris: Braised greens, and a *properly* cast-iron seared pork chop from PorterRoad.com.
James: Ramp risotto! If I were to serve a meat, I’d make a grilled lamb T-bone.
Chris Carter and James Peisker contributed to this article in their own personal capacity. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bowery Farming, Inc.