Monday, June 1, 2009

Food for thought

Last night I attended a heritage breed pig cooking competition. The photo above is from a butchering demonstration at the event. The pigs were special crossbreeds of traditional breeds, from EcoFriendly, the company run by Bev Eggleston, whose name may be familar if you've read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, but who really deserves a book to himself.

Eggleston told me about how he stops to give thanks to each animal before he slaughters it and how he will immediately fire an employee who approaches his job with the least bit of unkindness or aggression. If you've been fighting with your spouse all night and can't get your mind in the right place, he tells his workers, let him know, and he'll have you pack boxes for the day instead. He wants no one to cause the death of an animal on his watch without the proper state of mind.

"I want my customers to be aware that blood is shed, that the ultimate gift is given," he told me, but he's not about guilt-tripping, but appreciating that gift. He treats his animals well up to and including the last moment of their lives, and, he says "Happy pigs taste great."

He says that people call him progressive, but he feels like he was born too late, in the wrong century - all he's trying to do is get back to the attitude that people had when they lived close to their animals and respected what they provided.

And wow, it's a good thing they got more exercise in those days too, because look at the amazing delicious fat on these "old time old school fatty pigs":

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