The Art of Butchery

By Arielle Dubowe

The meat world can be an intense, complex, and terrifying place for many people. Words and conversations such as grassfed, no antibiotics, I heard this was bad,eat this, don’t eat that are constantly publicized. Meat companies battle for customers’ attention and urge them to eat their product vs. another because that company may use hormone supplements. These facts tend to get muddled among all of the other information consumers should know about their meat. So who to trust and who to believe when under the pressure of being hungry and making the best decision? It all starts with who is willing to take the time to speak to the customer, to educate the customer, and to help customers make the best decisions. One of the butcher shops that pushes all of the empty fads aside and focuses on the basics of good, ethical, environmentally-conscious meat production is Belcampo Meat Co—a revolutionary butcher shop that is minding its own business in its little corner of the meat world.

On its website, the company emphasizes “Belcampo is a lot of things: a farm, a processing plant, a neighborhood butcher shop, a restaurant.” Andrew Sutton, the assistant head butcher at the Santa Monica location, explained how Belcampo is “a lot of things” by practicing vertical integration.

Vertical integration usually scares small businesses as that means the big corporations control everything and can lessen the impact of a small company’s success. However, vertical integration is an extremely important concept when applied to companies like Belcampo, because it enables the concept of farm-to-table.

Belcampo believes in a close connection between each step of the meat process. All of its butcher shops are only in California, with locations in Larkspur, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles. Vertical integration allows Belcampo to fine-tune the meat process and to strengthen the bond between the butcher, the farmer, and the consumer. Belcampo accomplishes this through one of its defining characteristics—the homey feel influenced by old-school Italian butchery.

Since Belcampo owns its own farms, butchers, and restaurants, this type of ownership allows for the company to add a more personalized and specialized feeling to each process. There is no lost communication between the farmer, the butcher, and the consumer when it comes to Belcampo’s way.

Belcampo has everything—that means everything, including all the bones, the “inedible” pieces, and the carcasses—out in front of the shop. This visibility educates the customers about the whole animal and not just the “edible” parts such as steaks and ground meat. And that’s exactly what the Italians believe in as well.

At some of its locations, there is a viewing window where a customer can see how the butchers break down entire carcasses of animals, from head to tail, and obtain the very steaks sitting in the display case. A customer can get lamb necks, lardo, goat legs, and other less popular, but still delicious options. Belcampo wants people to see there is more to the animal than just chops, loins, and steaks, and therefore encourages transparency at all times in its butcher shops. The butchers at Belcampo want customers to try new things, to be more mindful of what they are eating, and to respect the animal as a whole being, not just as dinner.

Who knew butcher shops could be so beautiful and full of opportunities? The Belcampo butcher shops represent not only the chance to become more educated in the art of meat, but also the opportunity to feel good about making a food-conscious decision. Customers often tend to rush and just order everything without thinking. But Belcampo wants the customer to stop and think, especially when it comes to purchasing their meat that farmers and butchers dedicated their time and passion to.

While Belcampo emulates an impeccable business model, Sutton admitted they are not focused on expanding beyond California and having other companies adopt their model. He said that Belcampo is only focused on the craft of meat, respecting the animals, and teaching its values to customers. Basically they just want to do what they love in their little corner of the meat world and honestly, that is all that matters.

To learn more about Belcampo Meat Co., visit:

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Ag Circle Follow Up: Grazing Regulatory Action Project Discontinued

Written by Katie Roberti, Associate Editor

In our Spring 2015 issue of Ag Circle I wrote an article called Ranching in a State of Regulation. This article discussed the fight California livestock producers were in to prevent the State Water Resources Control Board’s statewide Grazing Regulatory Action Project (GRAP) from passing. Many farmers and ranchers believed if passed, this would be another costly and unneeded regulation. Below is an article from the California Cattlemen’s Association discussing the recent resolution passed to drop GRAP.

At its meeting in Sacramento this Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) officially adopted a resolution discontinuing “discussions regarding a statewide approach to addressing water quality impacts from livestock grazing,” which has the effect of ending the SWRCB’s statewide Grazing Regulatory Action Project (GRAP). The resolution can be read in its draft form here.

The resolution to discontinue GRAP is a testament to the strength of CCA and all those that participated in opposing GRAP. At regional listening sessions held earlier in the year, ranchers filled the rooms to capacity, delivering a unified message to the SWRCB to “scrap GRAP.”

In written comments submitted to the SWRCB earlier this month and in verbal comments addressed to the Board on Wednesday, CCA supported adoption of the Draft Resolution while reiterating the many unresolved concerns that we have addressed to the SWRCB over the past year, and made clear that CCA members will not merely acquiesce to similar regulation on a region-by-region basis.

While the SWRCB’s resolution has the positive effect of putting an end to GRAP, comments made by members of the SWRCB made it clear that the Board will continue to consider grazing impacts on water quality, and the Board directed SWRCB staff to report in a year on the progress of efforts intended to protect water quality-including ranch water quality management plans, existing cooperative programs with state and federal agencies or individual voluntary efforts by ranchers.

For any further information on issues of grazing and water quality, please contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office.

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Do You Know the Origin of Your Fourth of July Feast?

It’s that time of year again! Red, white and blue has swept the nation in anticipation for the firework-filled Fourth of July weekend. While we all know the significance of this momentous day in history, few know just how large of a role agriculture plays in the average Independence Day celebration.

As the top BBQ day in our country each year, a feast is expected at the forefront of most Fourth of July parties. But where in the world does all of this delicious food come from? Or shall we say “where in the country?”

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  1. Iowa is the largest producer of pork hot dogs and sausages consumed on the Fourth of July.
  2. A large majority of the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers consumed originate from Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.
  3. If you are chowing down on some barbecued chicken, more likely than not it came from Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas.
  4. There’s a 66 percent chance the corn on the cob your tasting came from Florida, California, Georgia, Washington or New York.
  5. There’s a 70 percent chance the juicy tomatoes sandwiched in your burger and sprinkled through your salad came from Florida or California.
  6. There’s a 33 percent chance any baked beans you consume at your patriotic cookout came from North Dakota.
  7. Seventy percent odds show your fresh lettuce is likely from California.
  8. Florida, California, Georgia and Texas are the dominant suppliers of watermelon for this juicy feast.

Bonus Fact: More than 155 million hot dogs are consumed on the Fourth of July (naturally making it the largest hot dog holiday of the year as well).

For more fun facts about the Fourth of July, check out:

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Cal Poly Cuts Water Usage as Part of Drought Response Plan


The turf in Ag Circle is one of the areas on campus going brown already. 

This post is a reblog from our peers at Mustang News. 

Oriana Bardinelli
Special to Mustang News

Dexter Lawn will stay green, but soon Cal Poly students will find less turf elsewhere on campus. The school is letting 28 percent of its turf — a proposed 13.6 acres in total — go brown in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s new demands that campuses cut their water use by one-fourth.

Other big changes in the plan include more efficient showerheads and a new “smart” control system to monitor irrigation.

The changes come as part of a revision to the university’s 2015 Drought Response Plan, finalized May 6.

Administrators are confident the plan can exceed financial and conservation goals.

On April 1, Brown imposed a mandatory 25 percent water use restriction throughout California. The order addresses both personal and institutional conservation efforts, requiring residents and businesses to cut their use by a quarter compared to 2013 water consumption.

For universities across California, cuts will begin with revisions to landscape master plans and building modifications for water efficiency, such as low-flow toilets and faucets. Campuses throughout the state will be forced to, “go brown” literally as they shut off water to plants and turf to meet restriction requirements.

Cal Poly’s campus will be no exception.

“We are trying to be as efficient as we can,” said Scott Loosley, director of facilities operations for Cal Poly. Loosley represents the landscape design interests of the university and helped revise the existing Cal Poly Drought Response Plan.

The 2015 update, approved by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong on April 24, is expected to exceed Brown’s conservation order once current irrigation and housing technology upgrades are complete.

Does this mean O’Neil Green outside the Orfalea College of Business, and other campus lawns will be turning brown?

“I hope they choose to cut back (on watering) areas on the outsides of campus,” said Jesus Nolasco a mathematics senior. Nolasco studies outside between classes for at least an hour a day, usually on Dexter Lawn or the grass surrounding Graphic Arts (building 26).

On a college campus, lawns serve many purposes, offering students and faculty an outdoor space to learn, study, relax, exercise, and gather between classes.

“We use our lawns on campus more than other places in the community where they merely hold an ornamental purpose,” said Conner Everts, the Executive Director of The Southern California Watershed Alliance.

Administrators considered this in the plan. Cal Poly does not anticipate disrupting the maintenance of major turf areas. The report says irrigation cuts will have “a minimal impact to the campus esthetic or the most heavily used lawns.”

The turf cutback is expected to reduce Cal Poly’s total water use by 6 percent.

If lawns are removed, most will be re-planted with drought-tolerant plants, according to Loosley.  This will be a long-term effort, pending funding to purchase water-efficient plants.

The Drought Response Plan proposes three focus areas for conservation management:

  • Turf reduction
  • Compost/mulching
  • Irrigation controls

Turf reduction, as discussed, offers a significant relief of water waste for the university.

The plan also suggests a recommendation for using Cal Poly compost in planting beds. Compost enriches surrounding soil and retains moisture. Available at no cost from Farm Ops, this measure will save 13-acre feet of water per year and is already in practice.

Recommendations for irrigation control suggest installing a smart system to optimize water use. A digital control system can monitor irrigation needs in-real-time, with consideration to: plant type/needs, weather, and soil condition.

The Cal State University Chancellor’s Office approved a facilities request in March of this year to install and modify the university’s current system. The project will cost $153,000 saving 25 acre feet of water per year.

If successful, landscape recommendations featured in the Drought Response Plan will conserve nearly 100-acre feet of water per year. This is estimated to save Cal Poly $127,000 a year, returning investment for the school within the next 16 months.

It’s unlikely that Cal Poly will run out of water if the drought continues. Cal Poly is a partner in the Whale Rock Reservoir and controls its own water rights, supply source and storage capacity. With the reservoir now at 53 percent of capacity, the report says Cal Poly could supply campus for nearly six years with no rainfall whatsoever.

See more at:

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How to Have a Stress-Free Finals Week

Is the amount of work you have to do between now and summer weighing you down? Have you been on the hunt for ways to mitigate your stress before it overwhelms you? Look no further! Here we have five tips to rock your last five days of Spring Quarter.

1. Make a study schedule

Do you ever sit down to study and realize 30 minutes later you’ve been cruising on Buzzfeed far longer than you’d like to admit? Make a study vs. rest schedule so you don’t have to feel guilty about taking your internet breaks! Aim for 50 minutes of studying and 10 minutes of break time, but don’t forget to get up and stretch as well. Bonus points: schedule out the entire week. If you’re like most students, you’ll have more than one final on more than one day, so plan ahead of time which days will be devoted to studying what.

2. Spark Some Scents

Aromatherapy is thought to be an excellent stress reliever, specifically with the use of lavender. Light some candles and reap the benefits of a relaxed mind and fragrant room. 

3. Work It Out

Often times, when students get overwhelmed by the stress of studying, working out drops lower on the priority list. But in fact, exercise can help you focus! It rejuvenates your brain, gives you more energy, and breaks up the monotony of staring at a book or computer screen. Set aside an hour each day to soak up the sun on one of the many hikes in SLO, try out a new gym class at the rec, or visit the calves at the dairy unit.

4. Take A Nap

Make room in your study schedule for a quick power nap, because who doesn’t need more sleep? Make sure your nap doesn’t exceed 30 minutes as you may wake up feeling more tired than before.

5. Yoga Time

Performing some light yoga combines relaxing breathing and soothing movements sure to eliminate stress. Bending isn’t really your forte? Try meditation! Mental silence is a powerful tool to reboot your mind between study sessions and eliminate distracting thoughts steering you away from acing your next test.


May the odds be ever in your favor!



This list was adapted from:

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Agriculture Future of America

Written by Christine Curtis

christineI want to share a little bit about an amazing organization called Agriculture Future of America (AFA). AFA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young agriculturalists into future leaders of the agriculture industry. It’s hard to explain the passion and how much the organization believes in us college students. All I can say is this organization has literally changed my life.

As a freshmen at Cal Poly, jumping into the start of the training into the agriculture industry, I kept hearing professors advising students to start looking into internships and career paths. Later on, back at home I was at a family barbecue and a friend, who was currently a AFA Campus Ambassador for AFA for UC Davis, inspired me to start looking more into AFA. Eventually, I said what the heck, I’ll apply to go to the Annual Leaders Conference. Not thinking anything of it, I got accepted to go to Kansas City, MO that November! Instantly I panicked. How am I going to get there? What exactly am I doing? Oh no, flying… At that point in my life, I have never flown anywhere before. So the night before I was supposed to jump on the plane, I broke down and almost cancelled my flight. But I sucked it up and went for it.

img_5807Traveling wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was able to navigate the airports and get taxis when I needed, but once I got to the conference I was blown away. I heard from motivational speakers like Temple Grandin, Orion Samuelson, and many more! I got to work one-on-one with a recruiter from Cargill on building my resume. I attended the opportunity fair that featured over 100 companies that were so interested in hearing my elevator pitch as well as offering me some amazing internship opportunities. I learned a lot about goal setting, communication skills, and I also was able to have dinner with some industry professionals!

Additionally, I not only got to network with industry professionals, but I also got to know so many passionate student leaders from all over the country. These students are so welcoming and ready to help serve the end goal, to become the future passionate leaders of the agriculture industry. The friendships that I made with these students will last for a lifetime. It’s crazy to think that one day I will be either be working along side these leaders or be competing against them in the career world.

Coming back from the conference, I felt incredibly empowered. I was ready to take on the world! I started getting involved in my school with the Agribusiness Management Club as well as deciding to minor in Agriculture Communications. This experience solidified the reasons why I am pursuing a career in the agriculture industry as well as motivated me to not just be ordinary, but extraordinary in my everyday life. I now pay a lot more attention to the current problems in agriculture as well as reach out to my peers and get to know them. The conference gave me the confidence to go out into my county and land a local internship. From there, I have grown into managing the downtown location for a local beef jerky company called Cattaneo Bros.

1469920_10202503534853424_551780727_nI have stayed involved in AFA throughout college so far by attending two leaders conferences, participating in AFA’s ONTAP webinars, and I have become one of AFA’s 2015 Campus Ambassadors. I represent Cal Poly nationally at AFA events as well as spreading awareness of AFA on campus. So far I have gained the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences approval in funding inquiries as well as getting a group of students interested in getting involved!

I can’t thank AFA enough for providing an amazing opportunity for me and other students to get professional training and for further fueling my passion for agriculture.

If you want to learn more about AFA, visit their website or please feel free to contact me, Christine Curtis at with any questions. Thanks for reading!


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Cal Poly FFA State Finals

The 76th annual State FFA Finals were held at Cal Poly on May 2, 2015.  Hosting the FFA State Finals at Cal Poly has been a tradition for decades. This year, California FFA members competed in 21 Career Development Events for the title of State Champions. Students arrived ready to compete after months of learning, practicing and preparing with the guidance of their agriculture advisers and coaches.

As always, the day concluded with thousands of blue jackets piled in the Cal Poly gymnasium anxiously awaiting recognition for their hard work and dedication towards competing in the 2015 California State FFA Finals. Congratulations to all of the winners and all of the chapters on their achievement!

Make sure to check out an upcoming article on the history of Cal Poly FFA State Finals in the next issue of Ag Circle magazine, available to readers in early June!

Meet the State Champions:

Ag Issues Team

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Agronomy, Tulelake FFA
Best Informed Greenhand, Madera South FFA
Floriculture, Madera South FFA
Light Horse, Woodland Pioneer FFA
Nursery Landscape, Madera South FFA

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