Top | Our Table

Making meaty films

(article, Kim Carlson)

[%adInjectionSettings noInject=true][%pageBreakSettings nobreak=true] Meat — where and how it's raised, whether we eat it, how much of it we eat, and which animals we choose to eat — is one of the hot-button topics in any discussion of food these days. On the one hand, an industrialized system of animal-raising, slaughtering, and butchering dominates the meat picture. On the other, a small but growing group of farmers and ranchers are practicing sustainable animal husbandry, while some abattoirs and butchers are practicing responsible meat processing. There is reason for hope — and much work to do.  

Maybe that's why the project that Andrew Plotsky is involved in sounds to me like a good idea. Here, I'll let him tell you about it:

bq.Headcheese. Head cheese? Headcheese. You mean cottage cheese? No, headcheese. Ew. 

bq.Four months ago, this was my internal dialogue when facing the prospect of what I now consider a delectable gelatinous loaf of fatty cephalic goodness. It was nothing but an uninformed projection in my mind. The feeling that arose in my gut was not dissimilar to thoughts of nails on a chalkboard, realizing that a bite of apple was really a bite of worm, or marionettes. 

bq.Four months ago, I was not a butcher. Four months ago, I had never taken the life of an animal. Four months ago, I did not eat animal flesh. Funny how things have a proclivity to change. 

bq.I work with Farmstead Meatsmith, an innovative business on Vashon Island, Washington, that provides the services of slaughter, butchery, and charcuterie to small farmers in the Puget Sound region. 

bq.We employ traditional processing methods that rely on human hands and a deep knowledge of the animals with which we work. Every step of our process, beginning with the slaughter, is geared towards creating delicious meals out of the entire animal. Skin, feet, and heads are arguably more valuable than the more common, and correspondingly fleshy, cuts. We believe that the slaughter of an animal is a gift of plenty to be celebrated and shared. An act of community vitality and communal spirit. 

bq.The business of processing is supremely tricky, due in large part to the labrynthic regulatory process in place, the atrophy of small-scale processing operations in recent decades, and the resulting chasm separating public perception of animal processing and the inherent goodness of responsible methods. These conditions have bred a national landscape robbed of small-scale processing facilities and businesses. 

bq.We see the vibrant movements of food and farming communities swelling around the country. The baling wire that binds together the greater intentions, values, and direction of our current agrarian renaissance is strengthening. Within this context, we are blazing the trail of animal processing on a human scale. We consider a significant part of this role as sharing the knowledge that we are reviving. 

bq.We are campaigning on Kickstarter to fund a free web-series of instructional traditional butchery and cookery films. Each episode will focus on a particular process or dish, like "curing (bacon, prosciutto and guanciale)," "blood sausage," or "head cheese," and will include explicit instructions in addition to history, anecdote, and illustration to fully illuminate the rich stories of each process. 

bq.We need all the momentum we can get to surpass our goal. Please join us in the crusade to reinvigorate the trade of responsible animal processing in the United States of America. 

Nice, huh? Here's a video Andrew and friends have made about the project:


<iframe frameborder="0" height="410px" src="" width="480px"></iframe>

We at Culinate would like to see Andrew and crew make their videos, so we're making a small donation to their Kickstarter campaign. If you'd like to do the same, join us! And do whatever you can to help spread the word. 

Thanks, all.

reference-image, l