ELKHART — Culinary students at the Elkhart Area Career Center gained insight on how to carve meat before its placed on grocery store shelves during a lesson on Friday afternoon.
The students were given a meat cutting demonstration by John Yates, a meat specialist at Martin’s Supermarkets, using a half-cut pig and a lamb.
The animals came from Elkhart Community Schools ACCELL—which stands for Agriculture Community Center for Environmental Learning Lab—farm on County Road 2.
Margarita McClain, a culinary arts teacher at the career center, said the idea for the meat-cutting demo was pitched by Cyndy Keeling, director of agriculture at ECS, who informed her there are a pig and a lamb on the farm that’s ready to be processed.
“This pig and lamb last week were on a farm and she took them and had the initial part of the processing and arranged for the butcher from Martin’s to come out and demonstrate to our kids,” McClain said.
During the demo, Yates had students volunteer to cut each part of the pig and lamb into small pieces using a butcher knife and meat saw and explained to them where some of the different cuts they may familiar with come from.
For instance, he said that ham comes from the back leg of a pig. Or pork shoulder is used for pulled pork or pork steaks.
Although many of the students said they weren’t repulsed to take a stab into cutting the dead animals, many said the handiwork was not easy.
Shawn Crothers, a senior at Concord High School and second-year culinary arts student at EACC, took on the task of cutting the pork’s shoulder.
“It’s definitely a lot harder than it looks,” Crothers said, “but it was a great experience.”
Another student, Cory Green, a senior at Jimtown High School, cut off the pork loin.
“Honestly, this was thrilling to me,” Green said of the experience. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I just like the knowledge behind learning the different cuts and how they’re used.”
McClain said that at least half of the meat the students carved Friday will be donated to the center’s culinary arts program where the students will be able to cook.
She said she hopes the activity helped the students have a better understanding of where their food comes from.
“We as a society are so used to seeing sanitized packages of meat in the freezer case that we tend to forget that it came from an animal that was living a week ago,” she said. “So I just want the students to understand their food sources, where their food comes from and to respect that.”