We zoomed down the expressway, returning from the opening of Two Sparrows Farm in Lowell, MI. It was an afternoon filled with farm-raised pulled pork sandwiches, homemade barbeque sauce, and fresh lemonade (and swarms of mosquitoes), all served off the bed of a truck (except the mosquitoes: they were everywhere). My wife observed on our commute home that I was sort of lost in conversation the whole time with some good friends, not even making it to one of the farm tours that were being offered. What were we taking about under the shade of the great oak? Well, among other very good things, let me tell you. We were discussing a merit of heritage meats that has–to date–remained unspoken.
For those who have spent time on the Duba & Company website or who have been following our blog posts, the discussion so far has centered on the fuller, richer flavors offered by heritage meats: this, and the flavor variety offered by the breeds and terroir of these distinctive meats. And yet, we’ve completely missed sharing another–even more noble–reason to enjoy what we’ve dubbed the “microbrew of meats.” It’s the reason why, in 1977, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy was formed: to protect and promote rare breeds of animals. Paradoxically, it is through eating these rare breeds that they are conserved. Consumption creates demand, and demand creates supply. That’s why heritage meats have been referred to as an “ark of taste,” a reference to the legendary vessel that preserved the species from a universal deluge.
Eating heritage meats is to adopt that very Rooseveltian spirit of conserving our national natural treasures which are not only found in Yellowstone Park or–closer to home–Pictured Rocks or Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores, but in the breeds of livestock that our forebears found here or brought with them from the Old World. And yet, these natural resources are far more vulnerable. The 20th Century witnessed the extinction of numerous breeds of livestock (as well as numerous varieties of fruits and vegetables). While man can do much to mare the landscape, it can (over time) recover its grandeur. Not so with the passing of a species from this world.
Yes, with every bite of heritage meats one not only tastes historic flavor but helps preserve that unique flavor. The sharing this feels like unearthing a treasure, and so it is…