Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Long Overdue Thank You

About a month ago I was exchanging e-mails with a gentleman named Justin who had questions about purchasing meat. We discussed the ins and outs of the process and I related to him a number of the mistakes & errors I had made when I was first starting to buy meat direct from the farm. As usual, I'm sure that I went way overboard with some of my answers and lengthy explanations. But at least I felt like I gave Justin honest and thorough answers to his questions.

Buying whole animals and dealing with a butcher can be a bit daunting the first few times you go through the process. Communicating with the butcher about meat cuts and what you want and/or don't want to keep from your animal is difficult when you don't have much experience or knowledge with butchering technique and types of cuts. You can always throw caution to the wind and hope that the butcher will cut up your animal pretty much the way you'd like it done, but if you're the least bit particular, it's unlikely that you'll get much satisfaction going that route. A good example would be the first time I bought a pig. I let the butcher handle everything and gave very minimal input on my wants & needs. The end result was the entire loin portion was made into chops, I didn't get any of the offal (despite my asking for it), the ribs were trimmed down to "baby backs" and I have no idea where the rest went. No leaf lard, no tail, no ears, no jowls, no feet (I had requested all of these as well). I basically lost a fair portion of the animal I had paid for and had no way of retrieving it. A number of things I had carefully planned to use my pig for were not going to happen. I was crushed, but much smarter for the experience.

Anyways, back to Justin. A couple of weeks ago I was yakking it up with Summer & Anita from Dee Creek Farm at their stand at the Vancouver Farmer's Market and a young couple was standing nearby. The young man overheard our conversation and asked if I was the guy who had the blog. It was a bit of an ambiguous question, but I hesitantly told him I did have a blog, but so did many other guys. We quickly figured out that he was indeed talking about Clark County Food & Farm and that he was the fella who had communicated with me via e-mail about buying meat. He thanked me for my time and told me that he had already gone in on a beef with a friend and was going to get a pig from Dee Creek this year too. Those words were like music to my ears.

One of the main reasons I continue to rant and ramble here is with the hope that folks will realize that there are significant opportunities to purchase locally produced food that is, in the words of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, "Good, Clean, and Fair". Supporting our local agricultural families and businesses is one of the best ways we can support our local economy and ensure a secure food system for our community. Although I never expect to hear that what I do is actually making much of a difference, when I do...man it feels good.

So thank you, Justin. You really made my day when we spoke at the VFM. I'm happy to hear that you're purchasing locally raised meat, even happier that you're patronizing one of our finest farm families at Dee Ceek Farm, and I hope your experience is a good one.

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