Meditations on local meat

Spring Lake Farm's Ulla Kjarval reflects on American meat-eating, her father's latest cohort of piglets, and the middle ground farms like her family's occupy between animal rights activism and so-called Big Ag.

The cuteness of the piglets are giving me some pause. I have never had qualms about eating the animals we raise but these guys are seriously cute. Not to say that lambs and calves aren't ,but I have to say piglets are pretty charming. With this said, we are providing them with a great life so I can take comfort in that. As a kid I was teased about the fact that we ate the animals we knew. Incredibly, here in America, we like to think that our food comes boneless, wrapped in plastic and served to us as lean protein and those that actually confront it are barbaric or cruel. There is definitely a change happening, but as a whole we are pretty removed from the process of raising and butchering meat.

Meanwhile, just a few miles away at Stone and Thistle Farm, proprietors Tom and Denise Warren are in daily communion with the joys and sorrows of small-scale animal farming. The Chronogram's latest issue has an in-depth look at Fable, the farm's all-local-foods restaurant:

Yes, the herbs—basil, sage, thyme, rosemary—are fresh snipped, onions freshly dug, ramps foraged, goat milk from the goats afield churned into goat milk ice cream, and basil transformed into syrup for drizzling over raspberry pavlovas—a meringue-based dessert named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. All very gourmet in the back-to-the-land sort of way heralded today. Yet there exists the certain actuality that the goat milk for the ice cream (or the yogurt for the rhubarb yogurt cream cake) was milked by Tom the night before. There is also the fact that the roast loin of pork came from a pig that was slaughtered three days before a Fable’s weekly dinner on Saturday. “I do not fork food into my mouth without thinking about where it came from or what ingredients are in it,” says Denise.

Photo of free-to-trot piglets on Spring Lake Farm by Ulla Kjarval.