As Deborah Krasner reminds us, eating like a locavore is nothing new, it's how we ate a hundred years ago or so. Before food became industrialized, we ate what we grew or raised, or what our neighbors grew or raised. It seems that folks everywhere are debating what it means to "eat local." As is so often the case, once an idea has risen to prominence, after we've wrung all the headlines and sound-bytes we can from it, the inevitable backlash begins.
Perhaps it's not surprising then, that some people want vilify the local food movement as soon as it's begun taking hold. I find it ironic that just as canning and putting food by regains some steam some people have begun to criticize with broad strokes the precious and elitist food movement. I'm sure my grandmother would have a good belly-laugh at the thought that feeding her girls and their cousin sweet potatoes she grew on a small patch of borrowed land was somehow a "yuppie" hobby.
I believe that a good part of the renewed interest in old food ways stems from a desire for honest food and for authenticity. If you pull something from the ground after all, you don't need a label to tell you what it is, or to warn you about what may or may not be in it. When people were closer to the meats they ate, they knew that steaks did not grow in rectangular styrofoam trays.
In this piece, Communal Cow, Kim Severson reports on a collaborative meat buying experiment. Those folks would do well to read Good Meat and learn about cut sheets and planning your meals. Sounds like they could use the beautiful recipes in her book, too. "The chuck is just weird and you have to marinate it." Um, not really.
Nose-to-tail eating is another fashionable trend that hearkens back to earlier times. If all a family's resources went into raising a pig, at slaughter time, you were sure to utilize every bit of the animal. Feeding and caring for it might be akin to making a deposit in a bank. When it comes time to withdraw, you're going to want all that you banked away. Offal, and all those nasty bits, require a certain amount of fortitude not to mention, skill to make tasty. Not all of us are up to the task.
It's fair to question ourselves if we're meat-eaters about cuts we eat and those that we don't. Likewise, it's also good to question the types of meats we choose. Personally, I think it's an easier sell for most folks, to try another red meat like goat, or another game meat like rabbit, than it is to convince people it's time to make tripe at home. Assuming that meat will continue to play some role in your diet, why not diversify and include more sustainable meats in your menu?
We're just two weeks or so from my class at BCAE and I'm hopeful we'll get a full class enrolled. It's an introduction to concept of sustainable meats. What makes meat sustainable? Why choose one type of beef over another? Why not choose bison or goat?
Writing about Jody Adams' goat episode on Top Chef Masters and experiencing the elegant braised goat of Chef Margate at CLINK., I'm really hoping to introduce folks to the red meat that 60% of the world eats. Popular in Caribbean and North African countries, goat is also eaten in France (chevon), Italy (capretto), and Spain (cabrito).
I was tickled to see Michael Pollan's "36 hour communal meal" included a goat. Prepared several ways and served over the course of a three-day communal meal experiment, the goat was only one part of the meal that was labor intensive. To me one of the most interesting parts of the piece, other than the recipes and photos, were the comments. You really get an insight into the vastly different places people are coming from when approaching and reacting to this topic.