Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sugar Mountain Farm Needs a Kickstart

Anyone who has ever raised animals and sent them to a slaughterhouse understands the anxiety that comes along with not knowing how your stock is going to be treated once it leaves your sight. I've personally seen and butchered the carcasses of animals that shipped off-farm in perfect good health come back from the slaughterhouse with broken bones and bruises. And although I never had to personally transport and the animals to the slaughterhouse, I know it was big pain in the neck for the guy who did. So I have a lot of empathy for farmers who want to take charge of what undeniably one of the most difficult stages in meat production and do the slaughter themselves.

Now, I don't personally know the people at Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont. Their quest to raise money to build out a USDA inspected abbatoir on their farm was brought to my attention by a virtual friend on Facebook. But I think that I know enough about what they must be going through to offer them a hand by publishing their Kickstarter page on AHA. Check it out

Sugar Mountain Farm | Stories of Pastured Pigs, Poultry, Sheep, Dogs and Kids in the mountains of Vermont:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Your Food is Wrong

Taking pot shots at food believed to be inauthentic probably feels good because it appears to validate the way the shooter believes the food should be prepared.  But I doubt there has even been a single example of a claim of culinary "inauthenticity" that can withstand more than a few minutes of scrutiny. 

Take the sentiment expressed in the manifesto (above) which was posted on FaceBook by a representative of a restaurant in Mexico. The manifesto shows a plate of traditionally prepared tacos above an American version of the kind you might find at Taco Bell or a high school cafeteria. But instead of labeling them "American Tacos" the author describes them as "bulls**t." (see Chingadera)

Taken at face value, the message can be politely interpreted to mean "the tacos at the top are authentic while the version at the bottom is not." I disagree. 

I'm sure there was a period in North American history where the concoction in the bottom photo would not be recognized by anyone as tacos (and therefore not tacos). But nowadays, chances are that  if you order tacos in North America in anyplace other than a restaurant owned and operated by Mexicans or Non-Mexicans who are devoted to preparing "authentic" Mexican food, you will get something that looks like that. And I think that most  N.Americans who eat tacos eat those kind of tacos and would probably be surprised to learn that Mexican tacos are prepared differently. In other words, for the majority of Non-Mexican taco-eaters in the US, the stuff on the bottom are authentic tacos and the dish at top is not. 

I think both dishes are tacos and so the message of the manifesto is wrong. 

Once a large group of people agree to call something by a specific name that is it's name,  and unless you can show that some harm has resulted from the naming, I don't think there is much reason to complain about what they are called. To call something someone made "bulls**t" because it doesn't conform to the way that you think it should be made seems silly at best and at worst,  nasty and pedantic. 

People adopting food concepts from other people, changing or not changing them, while keeping or changing the name is what people do. It's something to accept and study, and not to be derided as bulls**t. 

Okay, okay. I admit that when I pick up a restaurant menu and read "Napoleon of Sole" or order a ravioli and end up with something that looks like a 3D Frank Gehry doodle I cringe a little. But honestly, I don't care what the food is called as long as it "works." 

Now getting back to those tacos in the bottom half of the manifesto; I'll bet they suck.