sourcing shenandoah valley organic chicken
Whether we're traveling the world to scout new ingredients, visiting farms, holding product tasting panels in our office or working in the test kitchen, we're always on the hunt to bring you the highest quality, tastiest, and occasionally even more esoteric (ahem, Bermese python) ingredients.
We usually set out to seek a specific item, but sometimes we come across something that we didn't even realize we were looking for. Finding Shenandoah Valley Organic (SVO) Chicken was that kind of serendipitous experience.
Our VP of Sales in our restaurant division first stumbled upon SVO Chicken. He thought it was pretty incredible and introduced it to top chefs and restaurants in New York City. They thought so too, so now we're bringing it to you.
From their dedication to animal welfare and farmer-first business model to its delicious flavor and performance in the kitchen, this chicken checks a lot of boxes. Here's five reasons why we're excited to source Shenandoah Valley Organic Chicken.
1. They're Family Owned & Farmer Focused
It all starts with the people who grow our food and raise the animals we eat. As a family-owned multi-generational company, we're also drawn to companies that similarly have generations of knowledge and experience under their belts.
SVO was founded by Corwin Heatwole when he was just 23. Growing up raising chickens, he bought his own farm in 2009. By 2012, his flock had grown from 300 to over 3000, and he started talking to other farmers in the Shenandoah Valley about joining together to create their own company, a co-op of sorts.
Corwin didn't just see a niche, he saw a need — for farmers to be able to farm on their own terms. In turn, they could create a product that customers across the country really wanted: wholesome, flavorful, organic chicken.
The Farmer Focused business model was born of those conversations, as a solution to the problem — the need — that Corwin saw. Unlike other chicken producers, the farmers who work for SVO own their farms and their flocks. They work with SVO and third-party auditors to ensure they're meeting all the requirements for their many certifications; SVO negotiates feed prices on behalf of the farmers, and, when the chickens are ready, SVO buys them from the farmer at a premium.
This business model empowers the farmers and allows them to run their farms and care for their flocks in the best ways that they see fit.
2. It's Where Tradition Meets Technology
Farmer Focus bridges the gap between tradition and the 21st century. SVO chickens are humanely raised as nature intended. Keeping the farmers in charge doesn't just hearken back to the "good ol' days" of farming — it has established a new standard of impeccable integrity, quality, transparency and traceability.
Every SVO product is labeled with a Farm ID. Customers can plug this code into SVO's website to learn more about the farms where the chickens were raised and the farmers who raised them.
By tailoring their practices exactly to their needs, SVO is redefining what it means to be a farmer in the modern era. They're working to make it work for everyone — the flocks, the farmers, and the folks that eat their chicken. The payoff of all this hard work and dedication is incredibly delicious.
3. Chefs Love It
SVO Chicken reinvigorates the phrase "Tastes Like Chicken!" because this chicken actually tastes like chicken — the flavor is delicate but distinctive, definitely not monotonous; the meat is succulent and juicy, not dry.
Chefs agree. When our restaurant division first introduced SVO Chicken to top chefs on the east coast, they were very impressed, not just by the great flavor and quality of the meat but also because SVO's attention to detail doesn't stop on the farms. The cuts (like breasts, thighs and party wings) are very well trimmed because they're trimmed by hand. This can save chefs valuable time in the kitchen and can make prepping large amounts of chicken a little bit easier.
4. We Love It, Too
Even though it's weeknight staple, chicken is usually characterized as pretty plain or even, sadly, boring. Because of its sometimes lackluster flavor profile, chicken has been perceived as pretty ho hum. We'd heard from chefs that this chicken had great flavor, so we headed into our test kitchen in Seattle to try techniques that would help that flavor shine.
This chicken is chef tested, tasted, and Marx Foods test kitchen approved!
5. They Go Above & Beyond Just Checking Off The Boxes
These labels look good on paper, but they're a reflection of the holistic approach that SVO takes to raising chickens, which means a better product that's good for the environment, good for the farmers, and good for you.
- Certified USDA Organic
- Certified Humane
- Verified by the Non-GMO Project
- GAP Step 3: This certification standard ensure that the chickens have enriched living environments,access to the outdoors and are never overcrowded in barns ("houses").
SVO doesn't do the bare minimum to earn certification stamps. While some certifications only focus on what the animal eats or only on how it's raised, SVO pays close attention to both, ensuring all farming practices reflect the best animal husbandry. Regardless of the standards, they go above and beyond to ensure proper care which results in a product that's tastier, juicier and more flavorful. SVO is quickly establishing a new standard of quality and it shows.