Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slaughterhouse Fight!

From the New York Times, an article about high end beef upstart Creekstone Farms:
Out of nowhere, seemingly, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef has challenged established red-meat royals like Niman Ranch, selling as much as four times more meat, by some estimates. Creekstone meat is served at many of the city’s high-profile restaurants, including Babbo, Balthazar, Café Boulud, China Grill, Del Posto, Pastis, Porterhouse New York and the Standard Grill, as well as the Shake Shack burger joints. The newcomer mesmerized Marea, Tabla and Primehouse New York into printing its name on their menus.

What does Niman Ranch think of all this?
“We have better genetics and husbandry than any of our competitors,” said John A. Tarpoff, a vice president at Niman, which has offices in Denver.

Oh snap! Well, how about Fleisher’s?
Some standardbearers of the sustainable-meat movement, like Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats, a butcher in Kingston, N.Y., sniff at Creekstone’s boxed “factory meat.” Pasture-fed animals bought from local farms are “healthier for customers and better for the animals, the small farmers and the small slaughterhouses,” Mr. Applestone said.

Even butchers can be catty, eh?

The article is actually a fairly in-depth examination of the the high end beef industry in general... including a full description of the slaughterhouse process, so be warned about that... but I found the economics of it to be particularly interesting. Worth a read.

It's my belief that if "natural" (no hormones, no antibiotics, vegetarian feed) meat is to become mainstream, it will be through industrial operations like Creekstone’s... not your local farm. Which is not to say I think local foods aren't really important, just that they're not sufficient to replace our existing system. Economies of scale need to be a part of it.