Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vandals More Than A Football Powerhouse

Jake Putnam photo
Grid Iron Success Bolsters Campus Butcher Shop
Moscow--With Vandal success on the football field this season, fans are flocking to the best kept secret on campus--the Vandal butcher shop. Boosters can buy Vandal Brand Meats for their tailgate parties. The meat is fresh, high quality and carries the unique Vandal brand.

Located on the west end of UI’s Moscow campus just off Perimeter Drive and 6th Street, the shop offers everything from brats and ribs and smoked turkey to the popular Vandal football ham and.yes, its shaped like a football. Ron Richard runs the shop and his staff can fill any specialty order.

Vandal Brand Meats has over-the-counter service for fans and for out-of-towners, they can ship via UPS or air and its the perfect holiday gift because its frozen and wrapped in a freezer pack to ensure freshness. All cuts are labeled with nutrition facts,cooking,and storing instructions.

The secret to Vandal Brand success is that all livestock is locally raised—the majority on campus farms—and all meats are processed on campus in the Meat Lab. UI professor emeritis John Miller says,“It's all about the small product supply, we know the background of our meats, and that builds customer confidence.”

All Vandal Brand beef is aged 7 to 14 days,allowing enzymes to break down muscle tissue and tenderize the meat,compared to supermarket meats,aged as little as 2 days.

For the past 20 years,Vandal Brand Meats has made the transition from bulk processing a few cuts of meat to incorporating customer favorites like sausage making, spicing, and marinating. And it serves a valuable purpose It’s the outlet for products used in research,teaching,and extension activities.

“We try to give students a pasture-to-plate mentality, so they get to see and experience the whole growing and harvesting process,” Miller told us while touring the lab.“The retail outlet gives students an understand on how the breeding and genetics work that's done, all that translates into the incredible high quality of the meats.”

Miller, now retired, pioneered Vandal Brand and helped open the butcher shop. For that innovation and vision, Governor Butch Otter awarded him the Governors Excellence in Agriculture Award and will pick up the award in February. The Farm Bureau is producing a video segment on the former U of I professor.

Profits from the campus butcher shop covers expenses and pays student workers. UI’s best selling products are the smoked sausages and the old-fashioned-cured holiday ham. The ham is already cooked complete with heating instructions, but the Vandal football ham has been a fan favorite this year.

To place orders, or for detailed product list and open hours, call 208-885-6727, or just stop by before the game.

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