“We sell on quality, not on price,” said Scott Jolly, owner of Jolly Farms Beef on US 68-80.
Jolly Farms Beef has been open for three years, Jolly said. For two of those years, they have been enrolled in the Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Farm Market Program. Jolly said the program is part of a statewide initiative for high-quality meat and produce to be grown, processed and consumed within the state. This in contrast to a few years ago, when farmers could only market themselves nationally, he said.
A total of 78 markets have enrolled in this year’s program, which is the highest number in its 11-year history.
“The demand for locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables continues to grow,” said Marshall Coyle, president of Kentucky Farm Bureau, in a press release. “The Farm Bureau certification program is opening new sales opportunities for small and mid-size markets through coordinated promotional activities.”
This program also helps Jolly supply four state parks in the area. Lake Barkley, Kenlake, Kentucky Dam and Pennyrile all use Jolly beef. Jolly said he is currently trying to get to point where he can sell to Trigg County schools.
Most of the business Jolly does involves raising cattle and selling it to other distributors, which are usually out West. Most of the cows are 400 pounds when he starts with them and can get up to 1,250 pounds by the time they go to slaughter. They are free of any hormones, steroids or antibiotics. A small percentage of the cows are slaughtered at a USDA plant in Hopkinsville, and the beef is sold out of small building by the road. Jolly offers ribeyes, New York strips, filets, sirloins and lean ground beef.
Apart from the way the cows are raised, one thing that makes the beef special is the way it is aged. It goes through a process called dry aging, which gives the meat a tender texture and better flavor, Jolly said. Sides of beef are hung in a refrigerator for about two weeks. This causes bacteria to break down muscle fibers, giving it tenderness.
If this process isn’t used, cows can be slaughtered, shrink-wrapped, sealed and sent to stores in the same day. This may be highly cost-effective, but there’s also a big sacrifice in quality, Jolly said.
Beef usually comes in four grades: prime, choice, select and standard. The beef found at most grocery stores is standard, the lowest grade. Jolly said he only produces prime and choice cuts. He said he can’t compete with the Wal-Mart way of doing things, but he doesn’t try.
“Volkswagon and Mercedes are both cars, but there’s a difference,” Jolly said, comparing the difference in quality to that of prime and standard.
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