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On January 19, 2016, a devastating fire leveled the Edwards’ Surry facility.


No American success story is without an element


of tragedy, and Edwards Virginia Smokehouse has now seen its share.


About 125 firefighters from 12 companies in the region spent two days battling the blaze. So Edwards searched for new


suppliers, seeking those that kept at least some of the fat in the pig. “When you’re dry-curing a ham, you can’t have it too lean or it comes out like jerky,” he said. Edwards soon connected with Patrick Martins of Heritage Food USA, who was instrumental in extending the “slow food” movement to American meat products. The slow food movement, promoted as an alternative to fast food, supports a return to old-fashioned methods and products — food that is local, seasonal and sustainably grown. Martins supplies Edwards with hams from pasture-raised, antibiotic-free heritage breed pigs, predominantly Berkshires. It’s a satisfying commitment, explained Edwards. “You’re preserving the breeds from possible extinction and you’re supporting the small family farms that raise them,” he said. Heritage hogs are allowed to roam, root and rut; it’s what they do. “And a happy hog just tastes better,” he added. “A stressed out hog doesn’t produce as good a flavor profile.” By 2008, Edwards’ search for happier hogs had led to the introduction of


The House & Home Magazine 49


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