Bought A Whole Pig? Put It In The Corning Meat Locker

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A meat locker the Cornell extension opened in Ithaca is already full and has a waiting list. Users rent plastic bins to store meat in the freezer.

A new venture in Corning wants to help people buy the whole hog, instead of just a couple pork chops. The Corning Meat Locker is a communal freezer for people to store meat they buy in bulk. It opens September 15, and organizers say it’s a boon for farmers and buyers.

The locker is really just a big walk-in freezer. Users will rent plastic tubs and pay by the month to store them.

“[The locker fits] approximately 70-80 bins, so hopefully that would equate to 60-70 people, assuming one or two have multiple bins,” says Kerri Bartlett of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The bins come in two sizes. Bartlett says the larger one fits 100 pounds of meat. In the smaller, you could put a whole lamb, or a big turkey for the holidays. Whole animals directly from the farmer are usually cheaper per pound than single cuts at the grocery store, and Bartlett says it’s better for the farmers, too.

“If the farmer sells it piece by piece, it could take a year to get rid of an entire steer, if he’s holding on to some lower-value cuts that nobody knows what to do with or how to use them,” she says. She adds that it’s also expensive for farmers to store those cuts.

The project aims to bridge what Bartlett says is a disconnect in the local meat supply chain.

“We get a lot of calls from restaurants that say, ‘I want 40 pounds of brisket every week,’” Bartlett says. “Well that’s great, but there’s a whole lot more to that carcass.” The Cornell extension plans to offer classes for less experienced cooks on how to deal with unusual parts of the animal.

The Corning meat locker is the second in a two-part project from the Cornell extension. The first locker is already open in Ithaca, and it has a waiting list. Bartlett says if there’s any extra space in this one, they’ll offer it to hunters who want to store game.

Meat enthusiasts can rent bins in the Corning locker at an open house on September 15.

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