Herb Eckhouse loves his work. It helps that the national press has fawned over his meat.

And with national distribution through retailers such as Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma, where the meats fetch around $25 per pound, selling tons of meat isn’t the problem he was afraid it would be.

Eckhouse’s biggest problem has become sourcing his pork.  With Iowa’s hog population at more than 17 million, Eckhouse thought finding the ideal pigs — “buff and fatty,” as Kathy puts it — would be the easy part. But La Quercia is relatively small scale, perhaps an eighth of the size of an Italian plant, and cannot dictate the market like its Italian brethren can. And the market for the kind of pork Eckhouse needs is still considered niche.

So the couple took on another experiment and contracted with Jude Becker. The hog farmer, in Dyersville, Iowa, three hours from the plant, raised four dozen organic, acorn-finished, free-range Berkshire pigs. The pigs are believed to be the first ever acorn-finished hogs raised in the United States.

The meat is being sold as a pork-of-the-month club of sorts. Customers, among them Robert Parker, chefs Mario Batali and Charlie Trotter, each plunked down $3,000 for a pig’s worth of meat. After slaughter, customers received the meat best eaten fresh, such as the chops and caul fat. The remainder of each carcass is being doled out as it finishes curing. The exercise is forcing the Eckhouses to learn how to cure pieces of meat that are often discarded, Italian-style meats such as guanciale, or bacon from the jowls, and lardo, or curded back fat.

Even though La Quercia borrows heavily from Italian tradition, the Eckhouses are steadfastly Iowan. They see the business as there small effort to prevent more Midwestern land from being converted to corn for ethanol.

Their success hasn’t changed their approach.

“This is still exciting to me. I’m still tuned in,” Eckhouse said. “My reaction is still ‘Oh my God, are we gonna get all these things sold?’ But I don’t worry as much as I used to.”

When Michelin-stared chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud added their prosciutto to the menu of one his Manhattan spots, it didn’t hurt their sales either. And it’s listing on the menu is apt; between Jambons De Paris and D’Espangne, is La Quercia’s. Boulud lists the company’s meat as Jambon D’Iowa.