Paul Fehribach Of Big Jones Talks Straight About Sourcing Local Meat
What with The Local Beet crowing about the butchering of local meat at City Provisions (naming it our 2010 Restaurant of the Year) and swooning over Charcuterist Extraordinaire, Mark Smrecek’s true pastrami (made with beef navel), you would think 2011 will be the Year of Local Meat. But we have good reason to talk about meat. For many Americans, meat is like a condiment that is unconsciously eaten — bits of dry, processed chicken thrown atop a salad, for instance. But for those who try to eat mostly vegetables, and limit meat consumption to only that which has been locally, humanely, and sustainable raised, sourcing local meat has always — always – been the one of the most difficult aspects of supporting local, small producers, and for many reasons. First, it tends to be expensive. Second, it can be difficult to find. And third, when you find it, it’s frozen. Things have looked up even more since the January opening of Butcher and Larder, but I’m glad to see that the dialogue about where we get our meat from continues.
On his blog, Paul Fehribach, chef at Big Jones, the “Coastal Southern Cooking” themed restaurant in Andersonville, continues this dialogue, and details the difficulties a restaurant chef has in balancing costs and the ease of dealing with distributors (who often hold sway over restaurants) with the personal, even moral, desire to support local farmers who raise meat in a humane, sustainable fashion. He writes:
“If these stories about purveyors and suppliers and sales reps and minimums leave anything clear, it should be that for me the obvious answer is to work with local folks in our community of farmers. It’s a lot of work churning out our own bacon (7-day process) tasso (7-days also) andouille (3 days) boudin (blessedly only one day) chaudin (two days) and in a short while our own house ham to premiere (two to three weeks.) But, I’d rather work with friendly people I know and trust. It really is about relationships, and it’s easier to have relationships with people than corporations.”
To read the rest of this extremely worthwhile piece, please click here.
The ‘Beet asks: Have you started paying more attention to the source of your meat? If so, what do you do to source it? CSA? Butcher shops? Farmer’s markets? Let us know!