The Foie Gras Fight: Reason TV takes on the controversy

Mark Pastore, business partner of BG Member Chris Cosentino, and owner of Incanto in San Francisco, Ca., shares his view, along with the opposition.

Consumers Care About Their Meat! NYT Says It & We Always Knew It!

We love reading about how consumers are getting to know the meat they eat and making the choice to buy local, honest meat! We especially love that they are finding that meat from Butcher’s Guild members. NYT singles out The Local Butcher Shop and Bi-Rite, as well as our friends at Soul Food Farms. Feel good news on a Tuesday!

Increasingly, Meat’s Origins Are Valued

Published: January 19, 2012 READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

When Jonathan Lewis was the owner of a fashion company, he suspected that the high-end zippers he imported were being surreptitiously replaced with lower-quality models.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to

Now Mr. Lewis runs a San Francisco meat-buying collective called Pastoral Plate, distributing humanely raised chickens from local farmers. He had hoped his days of distrust were over.

“I learned that whether you’re selling handbags or chickens,” he said, “it pays to be careful.”

Last year, Mr. Lewis believed that one of his farmers was getting birds from unknown sources and passing them off as her own. He also visited a ranch where, he said, cattle were supposed to get organic food but were instead receiving much less expensive conventional feed. Mr. Lewis declined to reveal the farms’ identities but took his business elsewhere.

Among a small group of aware consumers, concern about their meat’s origins is growing, according to Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. Though factory-farmed meat is still the big seller, some shoppers are willing to pay two or three times as much as supermarket prices to guarantee that the animals they eat were raised on organic or foraged food or both, had ample living space and sufficient time outdoors, and were not fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

Sam Mogannam, owner of the upscale Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, said his customers were very savvy about where their meat came from.

“It’s pretty easy to display a heavily edited picture of a happy pig in a pasture,” he said. “You ultimately have no idea how their animals are treated.” So Mr. Mogannam encourages his head butcher, Chili Montes, to spend time developing close relationships with farmers. Mr. Montes visits most of the farms, traveling as far as Uruguay. He inspects the animals’ housing conditions and the types of feed they receive.

The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley sells only meat that has been humanely raised locally. The animals must also live outdoors all the time. Monica Rocchino, the owner, said that she decided against one farm because chickens were kept in pens made of netting to protect them from predators.

Alexis Koefed, owner of the small, family-run Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, said that the vast majority of farmers were straightforward about their animals’ living conditions and diets. “Even if we wanted to be dishonest, our customers demand transparency,” she said. “It’s very easy to just drive over and inspect our farm.”

When Mr. Lewis inspected the Amber and Sons farm in Sebastopol last year, he recalled, Amber Faur, the owner, thrust a slaughtered chicken into his hands and told him it had been the leader of the flock — and a mean bird.

Though Mr. Lewis said he was initially caught off guard, he realized Ms. Faur had developed an intimacy with her chickens. It was because she “hated that hen that I realized how much she loves her animals,” Mr. Lewis said. “We’re buying all our chickens from her now.”

Know Your Butcher, It’s For Your Own Good!

The Butcher’s Guild hates to participate in fear-mongering but the meat-stream is full of scary news. We can’t help but point out that knowing a butcher that knows a farmer is the best way to combat a dinner full of MRSA bacteria. Organic animals aren’t habitually fed antibiotics and small-farmed, pasture-raised animals generally are not habitually fed them (always ask, if you want to know). So, they don’t harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria that end up on your plate.


Antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria widely present in retail pork, new study says

By Andrew Ranallo
Published January 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – New peer-reviewed research published January 19 found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pork samples collected from retail stores at a higher rate than previously identified. The study by researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, titled “MRSA in conventional and alternative retail pork products,” represents the largest sampling of raw meat products for MRSA contamination to date in the United States. It appears in the online science journal PLoS ONE from the Public Library of Science.

In total, 395 pork samples were collected from a total of 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among these samples, S. aureus—a bacteria that can cause serious human infections of the bloodstream, skin, lungs (pneumonia) and other organs—was isolated from 256 samples (64.8 percent) and of those, 26 pork samples (6.6 percent of the total) were found to contain MRSA.

MRSA is one of the most serious bacteria, causing infections resistant to multiple antibiotics, which are therefore costly and very difficult to treat. According to 2005 estimates, MRSA accounts for about 280,000 infections and nearly 19,000 deaths a year in hospitals. However, MRSA infections acquired outside of hospitals, in communities and on farms, have been rapidly rising.

“The latest results are more than double the prevalence found in previous studies of this kind. At 6.6 percent, pork is four times more likely to be carrying deadly MRSA than the average American, pointing to our food system and industrial farming as an avenue for MRSA to continue to spread,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, MD.

Read the study on the Public Library of Science’s PLoS ONE website at

IATP has been working for over a decade to eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed and prevent the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA on farms and in our food supply. IATP’s David Wallinga, MD will also be presenting “Raising Pigs, Raising Problems: Saying No to Antibiotics in Animal Feed” at TEDx in Manhattan January 20.

Used under creative commons license from essgee51.

In total, 395 pork samples were collected and of those, 6.6 percent were found to contain MRSA.

Andrew Ranallo

Andrew Ranallo is responsible for the consistency of IATP’s print and online publications, online outreach via social media and press relations.



Culinary Competition and Tasting Event Celebrates Heritage Breed Pigs
[CHECK OUT OTHER TOUR DATES HERE] January 29, 2012 at 5 pmCochon 555 – five chefs, five pigs, five winemakers – is a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. The Napa event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from heritage breed pigs, nose-to-tail, for an audience of pork-loving epicureans.

2012 Napa competing chefs include Chris L’Hommedieu of Michael Mina San Francisco, Lars Kronmark of Culinary Institute of America, Michael Tuohy of Dean & Deluca, Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant and the 2011 King and Queen of Porc – Duskie Estes + John Stewart of zazu restaurant + farm.

Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast with wines from five different small wineries, including Elk Cove Vineyards, Scholium Project, Behrens Family Winery, Wind Gap Wines and Matthiasson plus a special tasting of SALDO, Sokol Blosser and Franciscan. The evening will include seven whole heritage pigs and a VIP butcher demonstrations from Ryan Farr (4505 Meats) and GA butchering with Jorge Velazquez (Sunshine Meat’s). Guests can join the “Guess Five” interactive tasting contest with Le Creuset, stop by the Blackberry Farm table, enter a Beat the Winemaker Contest with Eater and Hipstamatic while sipping ice-cold Anchor Brew, and savor a welcome cocktail from The King’s Ginger or Chinaco Tequila courtesy of Anchor Distilling.

Experience the new C555 Perfect Manhattan Bar featuring Hirsch, Templeton Rye, Hudson Whiskey’s Baby Bourbon and Luxardo. Don’t miss Jonathan Bodnar (Smoakville) and John Fink (The Whole Beast) serving one whole BBQ pig family-style in anticipation of our new event, Heritage BBQ, next Labor Day. Grab a glass as we kick off the award ceremony with a special 25th anniversary champagne toast to the James Beard Foundation, sponsored by Laurent-Perrier Champagne, now celebrating its 200th year. Following the awards, we invite you to experience swine & sweets with [3] Cochon Exclusive chocolate bars from Xocolatl de David and cold brewed coffee from Safari Cup Coffee Roasters.

At the end of the night, attendees and local judges will select the Prince or Princess of Porc. The winning chef will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 17, 2012.

Sunday, January 29, 2012
4 pm VIP opening; 5 pm general admission

Culinary Institute of America
Main Street, just North of St Helena

$125 per person for general admission; $200 for VIP (includes sustainable oysters, Black River Caviar, Murray’s Cheese, cocktails and a special tasting of wines, spirits and brews). VIP guests arrive an hour earlier, at 4 pm, and enjoy a limited tasting from three competing chefs. It’s VIP like never before and only $75 more. General admission is only better this year too–more food, more spirits, cheese and oysters…more flavor for every dollar. Only 225 tickets are available per city. Events typically sell out 10 days before each event. Buy tickets now!



Created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in 2009 in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds, COCHON is a national event series that takes place in 14 major markets. Every January, COCHON 555 embarks on a 10-city culinary competition and tasting tour where 50 chefs are selected to prepare a ‘snout -to-tail’ menu created from heritage breed pigs. The 10 winners of each regional event are flown to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen for the final competition, Grand Cochon. Cochon All-Star, Cochon Heritage Fire and a BBQ competition will be hosted as well in 2012. For more details about the events, visit or follow @cochon555 on twitter.

Guest Blog: Rebecca Thistlewaite of Honest Meat explores The Oath

We asked Rebecca Thistlewaite, of the excellent meat and agriculture blog, Honest Meat, to share her viewpoint about butchery and she shared this thoughtful exploration of The Oath that all Butcher’s Guild members sign when they join us. We love hearing the importance of honest communication from a farmer’s perspective. The good practices of our members have ramifications from the farm to the plate, which is one of the reasons butchers have such value.


As a Butcher’s Guild member you take an oath to uphold certain values as you practice your
craft and run your business. What does it look like to embody these values as it pertains to the
sourcing of your meat and how you present it to your customers?

Heart: I maintain integrity in relationships with customers and vendors. Relationship integrity
means several things- transparency, fair pricing negotiations, upholding quality, and being
truthful about your challenges. In short, it is about honesty. Are you telling your customers
the full story of your meat products? Are you using words that obfuscate the truth or ones that
explain exactly how the animal was raised, where it was raised, and who the actual farmer is?
When you say “local”, what does that mean exactly? When you say “natural”, what are the actual
practices behind that word? Being clear about what your definitions are will help educate your
customers and will demonstrate your integrity. Commit to that honesty.

Source: I aim to support local, sustainable farms and practice whole animal butchery. It can be
challenging to call up several different farmers to order meat, but have you even tried? Are you
willing to build and strengthen relationships with farmers who are upholding your values and
need time to produce the volume that you need? Or do you flit around buying a little bit here
and there but not making that commitment to see a farmer grow to scale? Do you buy meat from
a local farmer for special events but then go back to your ‘regular’ meat middleman the rest of
the time? What is preventing you from making that commitment to the local farmer? Make sure
you define what local and sustainable means to you so you can be transparent, as mentioned
above. Go visit the farms in person so you can improve your understanding of animal production
practices. Ask questions, dig a little deeper. If an animal is raised in confinement in Canada and
fed conventional, GMO feeds and then slaughtered in your state and processed into sausage,
don’t call that local, don’t call that sustainable. Be truthful about what it is and work to find more
values-based sources closer to home.

Hand: I strive to improve my knife skills and knowledge of the trade. You know this one
better than I do. But consider that being a skilled and knowledgeable butcher starts at the farm.
Understand how animals are raised and killed and maybe even participate in that process so you
can appreciate all the details, logistics, and energy that goes into meat production. Learn to have
reverence for the animal whose life was given for the meat in your walk-in- this will encourage
you to work even harder to utilize the whole animal to it’s maximum value and reduce waste
wherever possible. These actions will not only make you a more conscientious butcher but also a
better ambassador for the meat you are selling.

Voice: I am an active community member and encourage a healthy food system. Being an
advocate for a healthy food system must start with how you eat yourself, how you work with
your supply chain, how you communicate your values and educate your consumers. Every dollar
you spend is a vote for the food system you want to see. If your dollars are going to investor-
owned corporations, confinement animal production, farms that feed conventional, GMO
grains, or those that exploit their workers or turn their contract farmers into serfs, than that is the
farming system that will remain the status quo. If you want to see a more diversified, family-
operated, grass and pasture-based, non-GMO and non-chemical food system, than put your time
and money into it. If your regular suppliers are not upholding all the values that you strive for,
communicate to them what you would like to see. Then commit to work with them through their transition
to more sustainable practices. We will all be better off for it.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite and her family spent a year on the road in their “Pirate RV” visiting inspiring
organic farms
 of all shapes and sizes in order to better understand successful and sustainable business models for a new book they are publishing with Chelsea Green Publishers in 2012. Previously, she ran a profitable, mid-scale farming business with her husband raising pasture-based livestock and poultry in California and continues to write about all things meaty and farmy at her blog

Lindy and Grundy: “how to break down a chicken in 40 Seconds”

There are many ways to break down a chicken: here is some fast chicken action that takes a little over half a minute (for the skilled knife wielder, home cooks- don’t get crazy). Check out Lindy and Grundy  the wonderful, passionate and talented ladies who are taking the L.A. meat scene by storm.

Whole Muscle Curing at its best

Chef and BG Member Craig Deihl recently got a visit from Michael Ruhlman who toured the impressive curing room at Cypress Restaurant in SC. Craig showed Michael how to dry-cure a ham at home, with a combination of time and good meat sourcing, a beautiful Culatelli was born. Michael writes ” It reconfirmed for me how easy it is to cure whole muscles at home and the importance of sourcing well-raised, humanely slaughtered pig.” Read about his whole muscle curing experience here.

Matt Jennings Makes Providence Proud

We are so happy that Providence, RI is just as proud of Matt Jennings as we are. The chef had an amazing few years and predicts 2012 will be even better. To hear the chorus of praise for this talented BG Member, read on or go here to see the post on the GoLocalProv website.

Friday, December 30, 2011

GoLocalProv News Team

It’s been a banner year for Rhode Island’s culinary scene, and when we surveyed our statewide treasure of talented chefs, our eye landed on Matt Jennings to take Rhode Island’s culinary profile to an even higher level in 2012.

The gregarious proprietor of Farmstead and La Laiterie with his wife, Kate, seems always to be at the center of forward-thinking culinary events and movements in the state, and it’s gotten him national attention and acclaim. In 2010, he was tapped by the White House to take part in Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign.


He’s a chef’s chef, particularly among the passionate butchers who form one of cuisine’s most vibrant

movements. Jennings is a three-time winner of Boston’s Cochon 555 event, beating out top chefs like Lydia Shire and has gone on to the Grand Cochon event at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.All the while, he continues to take part in local events with equal passion and commitment while using Farmstead and La Laiterie to provide both educational and innovatie food and drink events.

But the latest and tastiest laurel in Jennings’ cap was being nominated this spring in the Best Chef Northeast category by the ultimate arbiter: the James Beard Foundation. He’s on the national stage on every level, and Rhode Island waits to see what this talented, passionate chef has up his sleeve next.

Chicagoist Gives Butcher & Larder a Big Year End Nod of Appreciation

The Chicagoist rounded up the round-ups of 2011 food news. The end of this post gives you links to all the local food news outlets. Rightfully, they point out that BG Members The Butcher & Larder are worth a year of attention all on their own as they “work to push Chicago towards a more sustainable meaty future.”


Go Rob, Chris & the whole staff of Butcher & Larder!


BG Members The Local Butcher Shop Make Top Food Stories of 2011

Berkeleyside news rounded up the top food stories in the East Bay, Ca of 2011 and our friends, Aaron & Monica Rocchino made the top 5! Congrats to The Local Butcher Shop for a fabulous first year. Go here to see the rest of the Berkeley food newsmakers of last year.

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