Are any of your products kosher?

This is a tricky one! You could certainly consider many of our products kosher, but our production facility is not certified kosher. There are, however, three general principles with which the Rabbis are concerned: That foods do not contain a mixture of meat and dairy products, that they have been treated according to specific laws – like killing animals with a minimum of pain for example – and that they do not contain ingredients which are considered to be inherently unfit, like pork and shellfish. We are happy to field any specific questions regarding our products if you need clarification for religious or any other purposes.

Why do you have to use nitrates?

Sodium nitrate is a type of salt that happens to be a particularly effective food preservative. A naturally occurring mineral, sodium nitrate is present in all kinds of vegetables (root vegetables like carrots as well as leafy greens like celery and spinach) along with all sorts of fruits and grains. Basically, anything that grows from the ground draws sodium nitrate out of the soil. The word nitrate refers to a compound made of nitrogen, which is the single biggest component of our atmosphere. Every time you take a breath, you’re breathing 78 percent nitrogen. The soil itself is loaded with the stuff. One of the things that happen when sodium nitrate is used as a curing agent is that the sodium nitrate is converted to sodium nitrite. It’s sodium nitrite that actually possesses the antimicrobial properties that make it a good preservative. Interestingly, the sodium nitrate that we consume through fruits, vegetables and grains is also converted to sodium nitrite by our digestive process. In other words, when we eat fruits, vegetables or grains, our bodies produce sodium nitrite. So what about all those supposedly “nitrate-free” hot dogs, bacon and other so-called ‘uncured’ products? Since completely uncured hot dogs are unpalatable to consumers, it’s rare indeed to find a product that is totally nitrate-free. Instead, manufacturers make claims like “no nitrates added. The reality is that companies that make nitrate-free hot dogs have to use something to substitute for sodium nitrate. Celery juice is a popular choice. And guess what celery juice contains lots of? Sodium nitrate. And guess what that sodium nitrate turns into when you eat it? Sodium nitrite! As we said earlier, celery is a natural source of sodium nitrate. (Notice that no one is currently claiming that celery causes cancer or that people should reduce their intake of celery.) But by adding celery juice to their hot dogs, manufacturers can make products loaded with sodium nitrate while legally being able to claim “no added nitrates.” Because all the nitrates are in the celery juice. As a matter of fact, these supposedly “natural” or “organic” products sometimes contain twice as much sodium nitrate, even up to a whopping ten times as much sodium nitrate, as conventional products.

What does dry curing mean?

Dry-curing is an ancient form of food preparation. The only necessary components are protein, salt, and time, but we use a temperature and humidity-controlled environment as well as lactic starter cultures to kickstart the process. Additionally, we use cure (nitrates), which prevents pathogens and highlights the flavor of many meats.

Why do you use farmed fish?

Over half of the fish consumed globally is raised by aquaculture, or fish farms. Since seafood is such a popular protein option worldwide, the oceans and certain species of fish have been overfished (almost to the point of extinction in the case of some fish). And while wild fish may seem like a cleaner, more natural choice, they are often the cause behind the production of a large volume of greenhouse gases. In order to source wild fish, one must send a fishing boat out into the ocean, have it run while the fish are caught, send the fish back to shore, then drive the fish to the packaging facility before they’re driven or flown to your local grocery store. This results in a large carbon footprint that’s really not environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, fish farms are able to catch, clean and package the fish all in one facility, which results in a much smaller carbon footprint. While it’s true that some fish farms have unsustainable, environmentally unfriendly practices, there are increasingly more and more companies farming fish in ways that not only produce a great product but also ensure that the environment isn’t harmed during the farming process. In fact, due to the environmental efforts of some seafood companies, both the natural world and the communities around them actually benefit from their existence. Not all farms are created equal, so it is important to source from companies that have certifications such as BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) to be assured that you are buying a high quality and sustainable product.

Do you use wild fish?

We do! We work with a fisherman named Dave Rogotzke who lives in Duluth but spends part of the year in Bristol Bay, Alaska with his company Simple Gifts fishing for King Salmon and Sockeye Salmon. We also work with Lake Superior Fish Company out of Knife River, MN (just about 10 minutes up the North Shore from Duluth) to get wild Lake Superior fish such as Lake Trout, Whitefish and Herring. We also occasionally get fish from Bodin’s Fisheries of Bayfield, WI, which fishes the pristine waters of the Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior’s South Shore.

How much product should I buy per person?

The protein amount per person really varies depending on a lot of factors, but our general rule of thumb is about 2 oz for an appetizer portion, 1-2 more ounces for an entrée portion. Of course, figure more if you have hearty eaters.

What products are gluten free?

Every variety of Smoked Fish, Gravlax, every variety of Bratwurst, Smoked Turkey, Smoked Ham, Corned Beef, Country Pate, Porketta, Mortadella and Lamb (only available on a sandwich), Andouille, Bacon, Pancetta, Bison Buddies, Polish Sausage, Chorizo, Pork Loin, Beef Pastrami, Beef & Pork Summer Sausage, Saucisson Sec, Pepperoni, Peppemundo, Salamini & Salamundo.