12 October 2006

Out in the (left) field (and twirling)

Here's an interesting little article from one of my favorite news sites, Grist, about the possible imposition of nationwide regulations on small-scale produce growers. The writer is an organic farmer at a collective in western North Carolina, which happens to be an area of the country I'm quite fond of. I greatly like the notion of getting produce from local growers, and I do this in NC from time to time when I visit (actually, the market I like to visit is just across the border in Georgia). It would be a shame to see small-scale growers forced to send their produce to national growers to be bleached, waxed, sprayed with pesticides, etc., in the name of national uniformity.

But that's not what this post is about (entering left field now). The article contains two paragraphs that start with the following:
Small-scale livestock farmers, for example, must leap formidable hurdles to get meat to nearby consumers.
You can go read them now or the rest of this will make less sense than it does already.

Now, I was thinking. Throughout the rural south including western North Carolina you'll find deer processing outfits. Usually just one or two people, they'll take the deer you shot hunting this afternoon, clean it, butcher it, cut the meat according to your specifications, and do some small-scale taxidermy if you want the head to hang above you fireplace. And you get yourself a whole bunch of fresh tasty venison.

Who, precisely, is regulating this industry? I've eaten venison from such a place and never had any problems, and indeed if the deer processor's customers got sick eating the venison they'd know who to blame and the processor would be out of business soon enough, hence the industry is somewhat self-regulating (a form of Adam Smith's invisible hand).

Now I'm thinking here about our happy farmer in North Carolina with his few dozen head of cattle who wants to sell the meat to local consumers, and the happy local consumers who want to buy it. (Begin twirling.) Obviously if you're going to eat meat, you shouldn't be opposed to the notion that animals die so we can have dinner. So neither should you be opposed to the notion that you may have to have a hand in said animal's death if you are to have dinner.

In other words, whether you condone hunting or not, if you eat meat, you certainly condone killing cattle and chickens et al. Ergo you should be willing to go "hunting" on the happy farmer's land for one a them wild steers you hear so much about these days. Them things is hard to track, but by golly they're tasty.

Now, having shot you your wild steer, you take it down to a "steer processor" instead of a deer processor. Frankly I'd imagine most any deer processor would be happy to oblige. And they butcher it and cut the meat to your specifications and you have enough frozen steer to last you until next season or later.

And suppose you do have a problem with pulling the trigger on your dinner. No matter. A steer is quite a large beast, and if you yourself are too squeamish to hunt this fearsome animal yourself, fear not! Perhaps you have two or three neighbors who would be interested in some fresh steer meat for a season. After all, it's certainly going to be enough meat to last a while, why not share? And perhaps one of these fine neighbors of yours would be willing to risk life and limb on the hunt themselves. Why not strike up a deal?

And thereby does our happy farmer avoid the trial of shipping his cattle to a feedlot in the far off midwest, and does our happy consumer feast on grass-fed cattle from the local area. Ah, what a happy and joyous world of gastronomic delights awaits us in this happy utopia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I'm wary of little roadside signs that proclaim "Fresh Sausage for Sale." But we do have local sausage around here that's usually good... Neese's comes to mind, and there's another one out in Cowpens.