Bird in Flight

There is a passage from Joel Salatin’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal that moved me this week–exactly why–remains for later. Let’s begin with that quote:

“To have a discussion about normal living, normal ecology, all my readers need to understand how ignorant we’ve become as a culture. With our frame of reference skewed, our perceptions about farming, and our notions of what is environmentally enhancing or not, we approach farming with prejudicial brain damage. As a result, we have…the ignorant notion that cows are belching methane and causing global warming. The scientific studies impugning the cow view her as taking, taking, taking, and not putting anything back…

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The taping of Duba & Company's Introductory Promotional Video, Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Timothy Stoner

The taping of Duba & Company’s Introductory Promotional Video, Photograph Courtesy of Jonathan Timothy Stoner

The 85th Academy Awards airs this Sunday, and if there were a category for Best Promotional Video by a Heritage Meat Company, I just gotta believe Duba & Company’s Promotional Video (2013) would be among the nominees. My confidence is derived, in part, from the fact of there being–to my knowledge–only one other heritage meat company in the United States (and they didn’t produce a promotional video this year). But, by far, the greater part of my confidence comes from the team that lies behind the production of the video, whom I wish to thank (but I’ll save that for the award’s speech). Here is a behind-the-scenes look at its filming which is here recounted in three acts.

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Chistening 1

In the Chapel of St. Thomas Moore, Law School Building, University of Notre Dame

There is an ancient custom of christening a ship about to set sail. This tradition spans thousands of years: from antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and into modernity. In the ceremony a prayer is said and a bottle of wine is broken over the bow of the vessel (or, as was customary for the Norsemen, a human blood was smeared instead–you’ll be spared all the gory details). Call me sentimental, but last Wednesday–a crisp, brilliant winter day–found my wife, parents, and me driving down to the University of Notre Dame where Duba & Company was “christened” by Fr. Michael, a former classmate of mine from our years together at the University.

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The Godfather, Paramount Pictures, 1972

The Godfather, Paramount Pictures, 1972

As recounted in the previous post, there was before me the offer to purchase some really good beef  from a Red Poll-Hereford mixed breed animal that, despite being raised on grass-alone and according to the strictest standards, could not be sold as “heritage meat.” This forced, for the first time, the issue of what Duba & Company’s relationship would be with non-heritage meats, being “merchants of heritage meats”. Perhaps it was that scene in The Godfather: Part I where movie mogul Jack Woltz, after refusing Don Corleone’s godson a part in one of his films, wakes up the next morning with a severed horse’s head beneath his bed sheets–his prized, $250,000 horse–and how that horse’s head bears an uncanny resemblance to that of  the Red Poll steer (spoiler alert: his godson ends up getting the part). You’ll forgive me if  the intertwining of those two images couldn’t easily be put out of mind (click here for the set-up to that scene). Then there’s how the offer for said beef came on the day of my grandmother’s funeral and burial. Now, I had just listened to my cousin Julie deliver the quintessential eulogy (a mix of humor, wit, and sentimentality) in which mention was made of how Grandma Rose who, though she didn’t even drive a vehicle, nevertheless championed a woman going out there and making her mark in professions traditionally populated by men. She would, I thought, have liked the two farmers offering this beef, both of them women, both who had to navigate the “old boys’ club” of the farming community. Now, while I’m not reading into any of these happenstances as some diviner would search the entrails for a sign from the gods, they certainly do make for interesting anecdotes: they help to tell the story and to set the scene for the decision-making process that was about to unfold.

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