From pen to paper: Local porker speaks out
Hello! I’m Mr. Delicious. My family name is in Latin and hard to pronounce, so pretty much everybody just calls me a big pig. And that’s music to my little pointy ears. I live on Route 9 at Salt Air Farm & Table near Lewes. Now, before you start going all “Babe” on me - it’s just a movie, for goodness sakes! - I’ll tell you right off that I know why I’m here and that I’m fine with it. Generation after generation of my relatives have been carefully bred to make your dinner as tasty and nourishing as possible. But a lot can happen between the farm and the table.
Speaking of relatives, we do have meetings, and the latest talk around the pen is all the buzz over farm to table. We notice more than you think we do, and it seems that some humans play fast and loose with the idea. If some chef buys a sack of rutabagas from a guy out on Route 24, is his cuisine now farm to table? After all, most meats, fruits and vegetables start out on a farm - somewhere. I’ve got the family photos to prove it.
My humans, Jonathan Spivak and Nino Mancari, seem to be taking this concept very seriously. In fact, that’s why I’m here. They’ve invested big bucks in farmland and livestock (that’s me!), and they’re renovating some place in Rehoboth called Salt Air so they can bring lots of stuff - from spices to meats and everything in between - from their farm to your table. They think I’m not listening, but I overhear them talking, and apparently not all of my brothers and sisters are treated as well as I am.
When Nino buys one of us from a typical food purveyor, we’re already all butchered and packaged. Remember, I’m OK with this, so relax. He has little control over how we were raised, and by the time we’re trimmed, packaged, stored and transported in big trucks from who knows where, we can end up being pretty expensive. I may be just a humble porker, but even I know that those costs have to factor into the price of what he serves at the restaurant.
Furthermore, my associates who are raised in gigantic commercial facilities are sometimes fed antibiotics and feeds that are hard for them to digest. Yuck! I’ve even heard rumors of crowded pens and not-very-humane treatment. Gadzooks! The bottom line is that diners can end up with mediocre but very expensive meat on their plates. That doesn’t make me very happy, as I’d really rather be the best that I can be.
Here at Salt Air Farm & Table, I get to scamper around (well, as much as something that weighs 200 pounds can scamper), and when the time does come, I’m treated humanely and prepared under tight controls by local humans. And here comes the best part: Instead of your yummy leftovers spoiling in the restaurant’s Dumpster, selected food scraps and trimmings become part of my mealtime goodies. Next time you order shrimp and grits, leave some for me, will ya?
My Lewes home will be used to market other products, too. Spices, dips, sauces, marinades, desserts and baked goods for the restaurant will be prepared and sold here.
We pigs are very social, and we love the big humans who visit for the family-style dinners, not to mention the little ones in the cooking classes who come out to pet me.
As much as I can figure, my humans want you to associate Salt Air with sustainability, humane treatment of animals and a clear trail from the farm to the kitchen. And I’m happy to be a part of it. Do me one favor, though: The next time you eat there, don’t overlook the beef, lamb and chicken dishes. I don’t mind being the other white meat, but a few more days in this cushy pen would be nice.