If Greg Gunthorp had taken pig-raising advice from his Purdue professors, the fourth-generation farmer would have put up hog barns, continued to sell pigs on the commodity market, and lost the family farm. “And if I didn’t go bankrupt, I would have been sick to my stomach thinking about what my job was for the rest of my life,” says Gunthorp, one of the most successful pasture livestock farmers in the U.S. (making $2.5 million in sales in 2011).
Instead, Gunthorp, now 41, dropped out of the agriculture economics program and joined a circuit of small farmers nationwide who were pasture-raising animals, keeping them clear of chemicals and antibiotics. Gunthorp Farms, which added chickens at the request of a chef client, is now the largest pastured-poultry farmer in the U.S.—with one of only about a half-dozen on-farm USDA-inspected slaughter plants.
Gunthorp says Indianapolis is taking the sustainable trend to new levels. “It’s going gangbusters,” he says. Chicago’s Rick Bayless is his biggest customer, but Chris Eley from Smoking Goose is a close second.
GREG GUNTHORP’S FAVORITE THINGS
(1) Volkswagen. “We have a diesel Touareg and a diesel Bug.”
(3) Traders Point Creamery chocolate milk. “I can’t drink just a glass. I finish the bottle.”
(4) 800 Degrees Pizza in Fort Wayne. “The Carne Pizza comes with pepperoni, sweet sausage, cotto ham, coppa ham, and bacon.”
» BONUS: See our blog post about Gunthorp in The Dish.
Photo by Nathan Kirkman
This article appeared in the May 2012 issue.