More than meats the eye

A small team of Mizzou students runs an on-campus butcher shop. Together, they handle all aspects of the business — from cutlets to customer relations — and they’re ready to supply your socially distanced holiday meal.

a student employee hands a client a packaged turkey

Sophomore Anna Kate Link hands a customer a packaged turkey.

Nov. 23, 2020
Contact: Kenny Gerling,

It’s going to be a strange Thanksgiving, to say the least. As families find safe ways to celebrate, the Mizzou Meat Market is still open and ready to help. The market is housed in Eckles Hall and gives students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources firsthand experience running a full-service butcher shop. Show Me Mizzou talked with four of these students to learn more about what it’s like behind the scenes, how they handle the holiday rush and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the work they do.

Aimie Brendel

Senior, agriculture major with an emphasis in agribusiness management, communications and hospitality management
From High Hill, Mo.
Has worked at the Meat Market for one-and-a-half years

What’s your job at the Meat Market?

I’m a student assistant. But when you’re at the Meat Market, you do a bit of everything. My main focus is running the office, so I make sure all orders are up to date, and I report to our financial advisor. I sometimes work sales, put orders together, wrap the meat … it depends on the day.

How did you get involved?

My godparents live in Jonesburg, Missouri, and they own a meat processing business, Davis Meat Processing. I started working there when I was 15, and I did meats judging through FFA — and that contest was actually at Mizzou. I was a transfer student, so, in my first week here, I knew I had to have a job at the Meat Market.

What was the first day like?

My first day, they were processing beef and hogs. I was rare because I had worked at a meat shop before. We have a range of majors here, so it was cool to see why everyone’s here, what they’re learning and how they’re going to take that back home or to a future career. I also saw a need for communications and Rick Disselhorst, the manager of the Meat Market, let me work on our Facebook page.

What’s your favorite cut of meat and why?

Ribeye. Because that’s how you tell cutability and quality of beef. If it’s high-quality, it’ll have a lot of marbling, and it tastes really good.

Taylor Jones

Senior, animal sciences major and food science and nutrition minor
From Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Has worked at the Meat Market for two years 

How did you get involved?

I came to Mizzou for vet school, but then I got interested in food safety and the animal product side of things. I was on a meats judging team for Mizzou, and my good friend who recruited me for that said I should talk to Rick and get a job at the Meat Market.

What’s the experience like?

What you put into it is what you get out of it. There’s a lot of hands-on learning, and you very much learn by your mistakes and learn you can make mistakes … which is one of the hardest things for me because I’m a perfectionist. Honestly, if anyone is interested in the industry, we’re always looking for people to come in and work. They can come in, or if they have any questions, they can reach out to us.

Are there any special preparations for the holidays?

Right now, smoked turkeys and custom orders are our main focus — and prime rib and pork. It’s too late for pre-ordered turkeys for Thanksgiving, but we do have some available on a first-come-first-served basis.

What’s your favorite cut of meat and why?

I didn’t used to be a big pork person since it isn’t big on the West Coast, but after being here two years, you can’t go wrong with a nice pork chop.

Donell Kleiboeker

Senior, agribusiness management major and animal sciences minor
From Scott City, Mo.
Has worked at the Meat Market for two-and-a-half years

What’s your job at the Meat Market?

My title is Director of Floor Operations. I try to make sure everyone has a job they feel comfortable doing. Whether we’re in the lab breaking down carcasses or on the kill floor, I just want my fellow employees to have a job they enjoy. I’ll also help put orders together or help with sales if the need arises.

How did you get involved?

I had a little experience from participating in the Lawrence County Youth Steer Project back home. Every year, Bryon Wiegand, a professor on campus, would come down and examine carcasses for quality and yield grade. That’s how I heard about the Mizzou Meat Market.

How has the pandemic changed the industry?

When it started, meat prices went through the roof. A lot of people thought that was because we didn’t have enough animals, but really, we didn’t have enough processors. In March and April, people came in and bought 100 pounds of ground beef at a time. We had a few freezers for storage, and we were cleaned out. We still have consistent demand.

What’s your favorite cut of meat and why?
I like ground beef. It’s so versatile, and you can use it in everything.

Anna Kate Link

Sophomore, agriculture major with an emphasis in plant and animal sciences and agricultural communications
From Moberly, Mo.
Has worked at the Meat Market for one year

What’s your job at the Meat Market?

A little bit of everything. Right now, I’m primarily in charge of the sales room and the paperwork side of things. It’s a lot of USDA compliance work, since we have to do tests for things like bacteria and send those to the MU diagnostics lab. I also pay bills, place orders and make sure all employee trainings are up to date.

How did you get involved?

I worked at a meat market in Moberly, and I grew up around livestock showing pigs through 4H and FFA. As I got older, I expanded to showing on the Missouri Pork Association’s Youth Show Pig Circuit. Professor Wiegand, who oversees meat science at Mizzou, directed me toward the Meat Market when I got here.

What do you like about working at the Meat Market?

It’s fun, and we have such a wide customer base that I get to meet people from all walks of life — and sometimes they ask for things I’ve never heard of. I had a woman come in and ask for pig tails. She used them in one of her traditional recipes and then brought some in and let me try it. I asked how she made it, and she said it was a secret family recipe. It tasted like brown sugar but then it kicked you in the face with spice. That’s the kind of experience I’m going to remember after I graduate — building that kind of connection with our customers.

What’s your favorite cut of meat and why?

I really like ribeye. I also really like the apple brats that we make here. They’re the perfect amount of sweet and tangy. We also make jerky. The maintenance team likes to come in on their breaks when we have it.

The Mizzou Meat Market is open from noon to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday. Check the Mizzou Meat Market website for weekly sales, special bundles and to place your holiday order.


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