The Science of Sustainability

From Snout to Tail

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Chef Ryan Farr demonstrates the art of the butcher.By Jenny Oh and Lauren Sommer

On Thursday night, the Society of Agriculture and Food Ecology and Meatpaper Magazine co-hosted a panel discussion at UC Berkeley titled, "The Art of the Butcher". Using whole animals from local ranches was the topic of the night, and judging from the standing room only crowd, it's an area that the sustainable agriculture community is gravitating towards.

Marissa Guggiana of Sonoma Direct led the panel, which included both chefs and producers. Melanie Eisemann and David Budworth of Avedano's butcher shop discussed how butcher shops typically don't break down whole animals in-house, and usually provide only the most popular cuts of meat such as the tenderloin, ribs and chops. At Avedano's, they encourage their customers to try lesser-known cuts that can be cheaper and more flavorful depending on the method of preparation. They also offer regular classes on how to butcher your own meat.

Producer Mark Pasternak of Devil's Gulch Ranch described the change he has seen in the marketplace from both chefs and consumers. He's able to sell his pigs to restaurants and markets that are looking for local animals that are raised outdoors, and Bay Area customers are helping to increase the demand for this sustainably raised meat. Chefs Nate Appleman of A16 and Ryan Farr of Ivy Elegance are both dedicated to using every bit of the pig that they can, from the ears and skin all the way down to the hooves. Appleman serves 20 pounds to tripe of week.

The culmination of the evening was a demonstration by Chef Ryan Farr on how to break down an entire side of a pig. It was divided up into CSA shares, which were pre-sold to members of the audience. For more on local meat CSA's, check out this Quest story.

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About the Author ()

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs - all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.