Monday, 10 March 2014

The Meat Fad Vegan's Endorse: Nose-to-Tail Butchery

Meet Josh Applestone.  In 2004 the New York native opened up Fleisher's Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, a hugely successful butchery that has been profiled by The New York TimesGourmet, and Time Magazine.  Why?  Josh Applestone was a staunch Vegan for 17 years.  

What made Josh decide to become a meat man?  He realised that he could eat ethically, and still make whole animals in to sausages.  It's called the art of nose-to-tail butchery. 

It's the movement in the meat trade that some Vegans, like Josh, are actually praising; going the whole hog.  In the name of sustainability, profitability and exploring new flavours and textures, more and more restaurants are butchering whole animals leaving nothing spare.  This means dishing up brains, livers, feet and other 'undesirables'.  

Although it's considered a swanky new trend in dining, it's actually reverting to how our grandparents cooked.  Not so long ago were Sheep's Brawn or Goat’s Head Stew a dietary staple, or Tripe considered a special dish.  Liver and onions were once presented to happy guests; there was a time where no piece of meat saw the bin.  

And this is why Vegans are agreeing with it: if we were more efficient in eating one pig, it reduces our need for another; it's a simple equation of supply and demand.  The nose-to-tail approach is the lesser of two evils.  

These days, we select our meat from a tiny pool of prime cuts neatly wrapped in plastic from a supermarket aisle; a process of selection that removes us from the fact that they were once a part of an entire animal.  We seldom ask where they are from, or are told by the Big Business butcher how they came to be on our plates.

It's time we broadened our culinary horizons in the name of ethical eating, although Pig Ear Terrine or Head and Heart Braised Pasta might not ignite everyone's hunger, more carnivores are coming to the table. 

Nose-to-tail is so popular that in October 2013, Chef Travis McConnell raised the funds to open Butcher & Public in Little Rock; Arkansas' first sustainable, whole animal butcher shop and restaurant.

Through Kickstarter, McConnell was able to establish a platform to educate people about 'slow food'; sourcing meat from responsibly raised local animals in a farming area that's very traditional. 

"A first I was excited about cleaning a fillet, until I saw my first whole pig on a table.  This inspired me to dig deeper into what it meant to cook, eat and source meat." McConnell told Arkansas Times about his introduction to nose-to-tail butchery.  McConnell urges customers to implore butchers to "teach you more about cooking and using the whole animal." 

Respect is a word synonymous with this process.  McConnell and Applestone believe that every animal deserves a good life, a respectful death and the dignity of a good butcher and chef who will farm and cook its meat in the most ethical way, that is, not wasting a single part.  

Sharing this philosophy with their customers, chefs and retailers can champion conscious consumption and help customers become 'co-producers' because when they're informed about the production process, they are able to make better food choices according to how it impacts the world.

IconPark's Blackcats concept is a turn-of-the-century Gin Palace and Eatery and they'll use the nose-to-tail method to provide their delicious selection of meat.  Click here to see their mouth-watering concept. 


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