The Birkys are fairly well-known in and around Valparaiso. Partly because they've managed to increase production at their pig farm and turn it into a thriving business that now handles everything from catering and cooking for a youth center, to running a few restaurants that double as ice cream parlors.
The carbon footprint is pretty small, when the pork - in this case, Birky Family Farms of Valparaiso - travels all of a hundred yards or so, from grazing to the smallest country market you've ever seen. You'll find sausage patties, links, burgers and entire smoked hams for sale here, along with some local produce. Some of that ends up a few miles down the road in the tiny town of Kouts, where the Birkys also have a coffee shop and bakery.
The local berries and cherries will certainly wind up in a pie or another baked good, and they might also show up in ice cream, which is sold at their Piggies & Cream at the Depot, just down the block. The store is both ice cream parlor and fast food restaurant, with a menu featuring a lot of pork burgers.
"We also have our pulled barbecued pork we have roast pork sandwiches, but you know you'll find our bacon on a bunch of the sandwiches, you'll find our ham and our bacon on our pizzas; sausages on our pizzas, so you can find our pork products pretty much in anything on the menu," said Chris Birky, owner of the Birky Family Farms Country Gourmet.
Their crowning achievement: the Birky Burger. Two pork burgers, cheese, bacon and fried pickles swaddled in barbeque sauce. A dream for almost any cable TV food contest. Birky makes no apologies. Vegans will have limited options here.
"It's a carnivore kinda town I guess you'd say," he said.
Birky Farms Country Market
506 S. State Rd. 49, Valparaiso, IN
Birky Bakery & Coffee Shop
205 S. Main St., Kouts, IN
Piggies & Cream at The Depot
104 Railroad St., Kouts, IN
Piggies & Cream at The Point
45 S. Main St., North Judson, IN