For those of you who read the blog post yesterday, and who have been following the saga of Bill the Butcher as it unfolds, there is an update from the author of the original article. Says Matthew Richter:

Bill the Butcher, Seattle’s newest “local and certified organic” butcher shop, doesn’t disclose where it gets most of its meat, as discussed in this week’sfeature. “We don’t want to confuse the consumer getting into too many ‘this farm, that farm’ things,” one of the owners told me when I tried to find out the source of the meat I was buying.

There are 18 certified organic beef ranches in Washington state, as detailed here(you have to search the PDF for “cattle” to find the ranches). I hadn’t gotten through to all of them by the time the story went to press. At last, I have gotten ahold of all 18. Not one certified organic beef ranch in Washington state sells beef to Bill the Butcher.

Damn.

Damning.

It is less a case of whether or not they actually do get certified organic meats (as there may be out of state sources, which the article alludes to as being as far away from as Nevada), and more a case of their employees blatantly lying to their customers as to what the definition of local means.

We need to have a clearly defined status of local produce/product. The locavore movement did a great job of setting the 100 mile radius, but I’d like to amend it just a bit.  Anyone who can drive to a farmer’s market in the morning, set up and sell all day, and drive home before they have to get to bed should deserve to be called local. It still means low food miles if you can fit a day’s worth of broccoli in the back of a truck, drive it to the market, sell as much as you can to make it worth the drive, and come home, you’ve still put fewer miles on your car than it takes to ship a load of stalky asparagus and waxy peppers from Chile.

When I was at the Dane County Farmer’s Market (personal aside: one of the best run public markets in the country- more on that later), there would be people who would drive from Green Bay to Madison every Saturday morning by six AM, set up and sell until two, and drive back. There were Amish families who baked through the night and had a neighbor drive them down, wait for them all day, and drive them back two hours to rural Loganville, Wisconsin. Every weekend.

A friend who sold honey at the Farmer’s Market decided to sell his wares to Whole Foods, and he would drive to Minneapolis once a month, stock two or three stores, and drive home in the same day. Same with Chicago. He deserved to be called local.

Look at this picture:

How could you not want to take advantage of all the great things that are growing down there? You have a forest full of blackberries, morels, ramps, etc. A lake full of trout and crawfish, and beyond the mountains, acres upon acres of farmland and orchards.

The motto of the small farm is not “Crank it to Bank it.” A farm is not an enterprise, nor is it to be considered a gross tool of entrepreneurial wanderlust.  That’s selfish and unfair to the efforts that hardworking people put forth to run most small farms. So rarely are those who own the land as family farmers motivated by money. If it comes to them, it’s fantastic, but I highly doubt that they got into it to become millionaires. Like fishermen, a lot of them were just born into it.

The motto of the small farmer is closer to “All In a Day’s Work. Not Necessarily Thrivin’, but Survivin’,” and as Russ the Butcher pointed out in his Stranger Bio,

They’re doing what they love for very little money, and it’s good to give them a resource to get their product out.

That just about says it all. Thanks, Russ.

Advertisements