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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Gregg Rentfrow

University of Kentucky Butcher Shop

Gregg Rentfrow began working in the meat department of his hometown grocery store in Shelbyville, Illinois, when he was in high school. He cut meat to pay his way through junior college, and he eventually earned his Ph.D in animal sciences. Since 2004 he’s been the extention meat specialist at the University of Kentucky. During this time, he’s continued teaching 4-H students in every county of Kentucky the state tradition of curing hams, which Gregg says “has become an indentity for us.” The program began in the early 1990s by his predecessor, Benji Michaels. Each county (or group of counties} is assigned its own ham house to learn and venture through the curing process. Other counties partner with local Kentucky ham curers to learn at their businesses. Gregg also heads the The Butcher Shop at the university, which as he says “goes from hoof to restaurant.” Lamb, pigs, and cattle are raised on nearby farms. Meat is processed and cured (ham, sausage, salami) in the classroom and later sold to the community from the shop in the basement of the animal sciences building on campus, while also being served in UKY’s dining halls.

Date of interview:

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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