Jake Dickson, butcher and owner of Dickson's Farm Stand Meats in Chelsea Market, checked on a tray of locally-raised ground meat roasting in the convection oven.
"You could live off this, I guess," Dickson muses. "I just don't think it tastes very good."
But that's okay, because it's for dogs.
Dickson works with local farmers to bring naturally raised meat to his shop. Since he deals in whole animals, offering more pork chops means buying another whole pig or a half steer. With that comes a surplus of less-desirable parts like heart, tongue and liver.
"I might have a market for three beef livers a week, but maybe not four. A beef liver weighs 40 pounds," explains Dickson.
Dickson's Farm Stand makes its own sausage, meatloaf and terrine. After all, less waste means bigger profits. But Jake Dickson also believes in honoring the animal by using as much of it as possible. With a mind to further cutting down on parts ending up in the trash, "Farm to Bowl" dog food was born.
Dickson partnered with animal nutritionist and dog trainer Stacy Alldredge to work up a dog food recipe and did extensive testing.
"Your dog is a real living creature and they need to eat real food," Alldridge says, adding, "It's not that we're starting this New Age-y thing, it's about actually going back to what's best for dogs."
But as Dickson says himself, dogs aren't the pickiest of customers: "So far, the dogs have been receptive. But in my experience, dogs are receptive to much food."
Here a shortlist of homemade dog food resources:
Farm To Bowl Order Farm To Bowl by 8 P.M. each Friday and pick it up at Dickson's Farmstand on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Bone A Part Made by Connecticut chef Alex Gunuey, Bone A Part is sold by the jar at the Westport Farmer's Market in Westport, CT.
Evermore The makers of this Red Hook, Brooklyn-based Evermore personally taste-test each batch. The food is available at many local retailers and can be ordered online.
Traditional Foods Club You have to be a member to order the club's pet food which is described as "ground whole chicken for pets."