Young US Expats Have A Thriving Specialty Meat Business
(A version of this article also appeared in CuencaHighLife, June 27, 2019)
There are a growing number of younger expats moving abroad. Ecuador has attracted many retiring expats over the past decade, but there is also a trend of younger adults who are looking for different ways of living that are not possible in North America. These younger adults are finding Ecuador attractive for several reasons. Many are interested in a more holistic way of living, but the cost of doing that in the US is prohibitive due to the cost of land, fees associated with starting a business in North America as well as the general expenses of everyday life. In Ecuador it is easier to start a business, the land prices are more affordable, and employee wages are less.
I am very inspired by young people who have courage and vision and the willingness to work hard to provide a service that results in a successful business.
They are creating an abundant future for us, themselves and the planet based on cooperation. We have featured stories about other young expats who have started businesses in Ecuador that have been successful. We would like to introduce you to Lindsay and Shawn of Cotacachi who started a business in Cotacachi offering sustainably raised smoked chickens and a wide range of smoked and cured meats. Their business is called L&S Artisan Meats. Here is their story.
Shawn moved to Ecuador permanently in 2008. He began with a chicken farm that he purchased and started smoking chickens which he sold locally mostly to other expats. In order to have help on the farm he got listed on Work Away to invite interested people to come and work on the farm in exchange for room and board. Little did he know that his future wife would be one of those guests. Lindsay arrived in 2012 to volunteer on a stop over on a back packing trip across Ecuador. She never left. Shawn and Lindsay were married in 2013 and now have 3 children.
Shawn decided to try his hand at raising pigs.
He attended a class on permaculture and committed to transforming his farm into a sustainable environment where he could raise the pigs in a totally natural environment. It was important to him to raise the animals in a healthy environment so the meat would be healthy and tasty. He and Lindsay started planting trees and following other sustainable practices to ensure they could reach that goal.
Like many North Americans it was really important to Shawn and Lindsay to be able to raise animals that were healthy so they could reassure their customers that the meat was raised as naturally as possible. They wanted to be able to create a farm that was healthy for the animals, the environment and for those who would eat the meat. They realized that there were no other farmers in the area who were selling smoked and cured meats done the way that they remembered from home. They are committed to the farm to table movement and they hope that their products will become widely sold all over Ecuador. Currently they sell their products in Cotacachi, Mindo, Baños, Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca and the coast. They have developed their product line to include ham, bacon, gourmet sausages, cured meats, chicken, hot dogs, and signature sauces.
When I moved to Ecuador I was concerned that I couldn’t find products that I was sure were actually grown organically and handled humanely. Grateful customers like me order products weekly for pick up at our local farmer’s market in Cotacachi. The line of loyal customers each week is a testimony to their success. My favorites are their gourmet chicken sausages, the smoked chicken, and well, actually, all of their chicken products!
When asked what makes their products special Lindsay said, “The consumer knows exactly where the food comes from. We are involved in every step of the process. The pigs live outside in a natural environment eating natural things; they are happy animals. All the products are handcrafted using the best spices and cuts of meat, without fillers. All smoked products are prepared by Shawn.”
Lindsay and Shawn were married in 2013 and now have 3 children. I am always interested in knowing what expat life is like for younger couples with children in Ecuador. The life style in a small town like Cotacachi is very different from “normal” life in the US.
Lindsay said there are challenges like long work hours, but there also rewards.
“We both had a desire to make a life off the land, and with that came a wholesome life to raise children, but how did we do it all? It all came with time, mostly organically. Ecuador, and the farm, is our ideal place to raise children. It’s hard because expat families who come here are usually temporary, with an exit date in place. With Ecuadorians, they generally have a lot of family around so they have other commitments. We make it work, maybe not as typical as it would be in Nebraska but it works for us. Overall we are very happy here.”
Lindsay also said that she enjoys watching the children chase the pigs around the farm and Shawn enjoys eating the meats that he missed from the US. They also appreciate being able to raise the children in this healthy environment.
Lindsay and Shawn sell their meats at the local Farmer’s Market that Lindsay helped to establish.
They have expanded their deliveries to Cuenca, Quito, Manta, Mindo, Puerto Lopez, and Banos. So, not only have Lindsay and Shawn found a way to follow their passion and provide income for themselves they are also providing livelihood for 3 families that work on the farm as well as for the other farmers who bring their own products to the market each week.
Lindsay sends out a email once a week so customers can order by email for that week. Interacting with the customers is also an aspect of the business that Lindsay appreciates. On Thursday morning in Cotacachi there is always a long line of happy customers waiting to pick up their orders.
Lindsay and Shawn sell their products in Quito, Cuenca, Manta, Mindo, Puerto Lopez, and Banos. To get the email order list contact Lindsay by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can check out their website to find out more about their products at lnsartisanmeats.com/
Their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lnsartisanmeats/ or