Virginia ham — that salty, dry-cured variety of swine — is largely made from industrially raised hogs. Cauthen sources her cured meats (and other artisanal provisions) from pastured, antibiotic- and hormone-free animals.
Why we chose these meats:
Cauthen primarily works with farmers from Virginia and neighboring states. Proximity to the Shenandoah Valley gives her plenty of options — almost too many: “I’m in a unique position now, where farmers come to me and I get to pick and choose who I want to work with,” she says. Cauthen also tries to support farmers who raise heritage breeds.
On being a woman butcher in a herd of men:
“We might have gotten attention because I’m a girl, but we have good enough meat to back it up,” says Cauthen, who does her own butchering. “I’ve definitely taken advantage of some of the opportunities that being female has brought me, but I still have to be as good if not better than anyone else.”