Near Auburn’s smelliest part of campus you can find some of the tastiest treats it has to offer. Located on Shug Jordan Parkway in between Wire Road and South College Street, overlooking several of Auburn’s College of Agriculture’s cattle pastures and facilities, is the Lambert-Powell Meats Laboratory.
Lambert-Powell Meats Laboratory, or the Meat Lab for those who know about it, was built in 2004 as an upgrade from the university’s previous meat laboratory which had been in operation since the early 1960s. The facility is made up of classrooms and state of the art processing labs used by the Department of Animal Science to teach students the ins and outs of proper and USDA approved food production.
Barney Wilborn, is a two time graduate from Auburn’s College of Agriculture, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in 2000 and his master’s degree in meat science in 2002, and has managed the lab since 2004.
“There are a lot of things going on at one time that pertain to what we do,” Wilborn says. “The Department of Animal Science is teaching students the science of food animal production. We have a beef farm and a pig farm where students learn about diets, breading and nutrition for these animals. But then the meat lab, our job is the food end. So after they’re done raising the animal and are ready to turn it into food, we turn it into food. We teach students everything from slaughtering, carcass fabrication, food processing, packaging food safety, all of those things.”
So what happens to all this food at the end of this process? It’s sold to the public. About five percent of the food the Meat Lab sends to market is dealt with and prepared by meat science students, the rest is processed by the university itself to help sustainability and quantity control of the livestock it raises and food it sells to the public.
“We have to have the store to try and recapture some of the value of these animals, but because we have a store and because have customers we have to keep it stocked too.” Wilborn says.
The meat is sold entirely on campus in the Agriculture Product Sales Room which is one of the facilities that make the Lambert-Powell lab. However most students don’t even know this meat market is available to them or that it even exists.
“It’s a pretty good little secret.” Wilborn says. “The customers we have are pretty faithful, and it’s 100 percent word of mouth. We actually have to be careful, a lot of people ask us why we don’t advertise and it’s because it’d be really easy for us to over advertise, because when we’re out, we’re out. If we did a big advertisement and the first 50 are super happy and then the next 150 people would be not happy.”
On any given weekday you can find an assortment of products including New York strip stakes, fresh eggs, chicken breast, breakfast sausage and more, at extremely affordable prices.
All of the proceeds from the store go back into the Meat Lab, paying for supplies and also used to pay the ag. students that work in the store part time.
Store hours are Monday through Thursday 2-5 pm and Friday 11 am- 5 pm. Tours are available by appointment only. Prospective students should contact Megan Ross, College of Agriculture Student Services Office, to arrange a campus visit.
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