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Pungo-Tuck Beef Company: Unveiling Transparency

Black Angus Cattle, Photo Credit: Blake McCluney

Owned and operated by Navy veteran, Nate Reeve, the 9-acre farm which started out as a father-daughter project quickly became a round the clock endeavor.

With his daughter grown and gone and being new to the venture, Reeve decided to go to business school. Knowing this would leave less time for the farm, Reeve knew he needed helping hands. That’s where Maddie Dubinsky comes in. She had ridden by the farm with her boyfriend, Matt Chiaradia, many times begging him to go and see the cows. Though Chiaradia was hesitant, Dubinsky's affinity for animals won. A few contacts and visits to the farm later, Dubinsky and Chiaradia both landed jobs at Pungo-Tuck Beef Company. Dubinsky handles the cattle and Chiaradia maintains the farm’s social media and farm repairs. They’re now a well-oiled machine.

The cattle are born on local farms and once they have weened and reached about 600-800 pounds, Reeve will purchase them and bring them to Pungo-Tuck. There, they'll spend approximately 10 months. During this time, the cattle is grass fed and free to roam throughout a series of pastures before being fed with a molasses infused grain mixture. The addition of grain toward the end creates much of the marbling seen in the meat. Throughout their lifetime, the cattle's diet is hormone and antibiotic free. Once they've reached weight, the will be transported to Gore’s Meats, a USDA processor in Edinburg, Virginia, to be processed and packaged. The meat will then come back to the farm and be sold at retail versus market price.

A firm value Pungo-Tuck maintains is their belief in humanely handling their animals. Reeve says, “Stress hormones change the taste of the meat” and shares that the cattle are handled every day to support a peaceful life. The farm’s Instagram often shows the animals being hugged, kissed, and petted (by Maddie, of course).

There are other animals, too. Frequently seen on the farm's social media pages, Randy is a Berkshire boar, yes, a pig, that spends his days hiding in piles of hay and encouraging followers to eat Pungo-Tuck beef. He comes when called and loves lying in dirt and getting his back scratched.

The farm also has three Scottish Highland cattle which have long wavy hair and large horns. There's Murph, the bull, Mabel, the cow, and her baby, Wiley. 

Reeve says that naming animals that one intends to eat is not recommended. With that said, Randy and the Highland cattle are pets and keep the farm dynamic interesting.

Another important aspect of Pungo-Tuck’s integrity is that they are devoted to boosting and maintaining the local economy. Reeve says, “We buy everything from here” and adds, “If everybody who eats beef that could buy from us, then we could buy more from [our neighbors].”

As for the taste? Reeve says some of his favorite meals include grilled sirloin and hamburgers. He says, “Burgers are my jam because they come from one animal.” It’s something Chiaradia says “Offers a taste that is really indescribable.” The two agree that the beef industry typically mixes qualitative meat with less desirable cuts to make ground beef. By producing ground beef from one animal, the taste is more consistent and completely different than conventionally processed burgers.

Reeve and his associates encourage consumers to come by and visit the farm to see where their food comes from and how it is raised. Chiaradia says that more and more young people are beginning to question where their food comes from. Reeve says, "Millennials will inherit the earth and they expect to know things like this, like the transparency...If that's what they want then we'll give it to them and we're excited about it." They even have a blog, Unquestionably Local, which aims to promote local economy by reviewing restaurants and advertising upcoming events. They hope to partner with local chefs and share their recipes, too, whether they purchase Pungo-Tuck beef or not.

To learn more about Pungo-Tuck Beef Company, visit their website, Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram @pungo_tuck_local_beef_co.