A couple of weeks ago we brought you a post from Beau Vestal of New Rivers about a project he was doing to source local, heritage breed rabbits. Well, the farmer himself seemed to like the post. I got in touch with him and asked him to share with me a few of his thoughts on the project and on food in general. Without further ado, the musings of Patrick Beck:
The opportunity to participate in the resurgent local food scene is something that inspires me daily and enables me to connect with talented, passionate, honest people like Beau and the other cool chefs in Providence and Newport.
I got into this thing by selling grass-fed beef for Treaty Rock Farm – building restaurant relationships and a successful Farmers Market weekly booth. I wanted to be responsible for meat raised with respect and reverence. The look on people’s faces when they learned about pastured cattle and a little bit of food chemistry gave me a great sense of satisfaction. I became their Meat Messenger. I enable them to reflect on recent troubling trends in animal husbandry (moved from farms to feedlots) and encourage their kids to look dinner in the eye, accept the gift, acknowledge the life and take in a moment of presence. Bunnies are small, cheap, lower risk, easy to raise and eat your mistakes, don’t require much land, efficient feed converters, shorter production schedule and under-represented in the market. Surely pasture-based operation focused on an older heritage breed would be newsworthy and spiritually rewarding. Might even work as a market leader story, supporting the beef sales even though the numbers are small.
But Patrick’s efforts don’t end with rabbits and beef:
My friend Jennifer Teichman and I are writing a book pairing the best local chefs with the best farms, fishermen and harvesters, an ode to RI Farms & Food, pretty exciting. We’re taking a chef fishing out of Point Judith on Monday aboard a stern trawler (dragger) to pull nets and learn about the resource and the regulations and the economics and the social community surrounding food. We are supporting the book project throughout the year with our blog exploring a wide range of local food stories building readership and awareness of our writing and graphic design abilities.
It’s people like Patrick who are helping to change the mentality around food sourcing and helping chefs move towards more locally based and delicious menus. Kudos.