Local, sustainably-farmed, grass-fed meat is hot. As the rising tide of interest in understanding where our food actually comes from has shed light on the oh-so-nasty realities of industrialized meat production (you know – feedlots, hormones, ammonia and ‘roids…), more and more people want good meat. Meat from animals that actually graze grass and nap in hillside clover fields on small local farms…The way it’s supposed to be.
The people want good meat. This offers a great opportunity for struggling local farmers to improve their prospects by producing sustainable, humanely raised, high-quality beef, pork and fowl. But there’s a problem – there’s just not enough supply to meet the growing demand. The bottleneck? Slaughterhouses.
Yes, slaughterhouses – the one link in the path from the farm to your plate that most of us don’t like to think about. Slaughterhouses are important. Face it – animals need to be killed in order for you to eat meat (for now, anyway). The problem is that there aren’t nearly enough slaughterhouses in the region to process and butcher enough animals to allow sustainable livestock farming to grow as fast as meat lovers want it to.
In part one of last week’s episode of Food Curated, Liza de Guia met with Chris Harmon, the Executive Director of New York’s Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship to get a better understanding of the struggles local farmers face in keeping up with the demand for good meat due to the dearth of local slaughterhouses.
In part two, Liza visits Larry Althiser, the owner of Larry’s Custom Meats, one of the few small-scale regional slaughterhouses doing it right. Warning – it’s a really hard video to watch, but the reality is that we need a lot more Larrys. Killing animals is not pretty, but it is one of the oldest, most natural components of human survival on this planet, which makes it sort of strange that we’ve all become so disconnected from this basic reality of life. Transparency is good, but that does not mean it’s easy.
We gotta send a fist bump to both Liza and Larry for tackling this. They both deserve a lot of respect for having the courage to take us inside the slaughterhouse for a straight look at the part of the farm-to-table process that most of us would rather ignore. If you eat meat, you should watch this.