Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm is about a half hour from Charlottesville, give or take. His local prominence preceded the Omnivore’s Dilemma bump of ’06 and continues on after. Jane Black, the food writer for the Washington Post, wrote last year about the Chipotle franchise’s decision to use Salatin’s pigs as the sole source for their Charlottesville store’s carnitas. I use her story in a few of my classes as an entry into the larger topic of local food, infrastructure, distribution, and land use.
Nightline ran a story last night about the Chipotle-Salatin partnership. I don’t know how to embed the video in this post, so I’ll give the link instead: Chipotle Seeks New Model for Quality Fast Food.
One thing they emphasize in the story, or have Salatin emphasizing, is the animal welfare and moral obligation aspect — that happier pigs are better pigs. They live better, we live better, and the food is better. At the same time, the conditions in which they live are less caustic, so it’s not just the pig’s welfare and the “pigness of the pig” at stake, but the way we use land and produce and manage pollution from it (as with, by contrast, CAFOs). I’m guessing the new and widely discussed Food, Inc. film has more info on just such a topic.
Plus, don’t forget the provocative Our Daily Bread.