After 25 Years, Sustainable Meat Pioneer Nicky USA Is Just Getting Started

The wild game distributors and ranchers have supplied the best local meats to local restaurants for the better part of three decades. Here's what's next.

By Allison Jones October 19, 2015 Published in the November 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Nicky USA

Portland and Aurora, Oregon

Most Americans stick to the Fab Four of meats at restaurants—beef, pork, chicken, and the occasional lamb chop, the Ringo Starr of the dinner plate. But in Portland you may spy wild boar ragùs, elk or water buffalo burgers, or teeny roasted quails on menus, largely thanks to the efforts of Geoff and Melody Latham (Geoff pictured, previous page). The owners of Nicky USA have created one of few West Coast companies dedicated to butchering and distributing sustainably raised game meat, and the only such operation in the region raising such a diverse array of animals. Over the past quarter-century, the husband-and-wife team has assembled an impressive list of loyal chefs. “Their quality is beyond any other company I have worked with,” says Rodney Muirhead of Podnah’s Pit. Last year the Lathams returned to their farming roots, raising Nicky Farms brand quail, rabbits, goats, and chickens on a 36-acre spread in Aurora. The farm also boasts its own state-of-the-art mobile butchering facility—one of the country’s only USDA-approved units made specifically to process both birds and beasts. “When I was a kid there was such a strong push toward big business in meat,” says Geoff, who grew up on a small farm in Sherwood and raised cattle to put himself through Oregon State. “The USDA was telling us to go big agribusiness or go out of business. Today, people want to know where their meat is coming from, and they’re willing to support [people] who are doing it the right way.”

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