Editor’s Note: Strangely enough, I’ve always been moved by PBS’s and NPR’s fund-drives. Sentimentalism, I guess. The author of this piece (Josiah Lockart) is a Virginia farmer of rare and heritage breeds, a Slow Meat Committee member, and a personal acquaintance of mine from the first-ever Slow Meat Symposium in Denver (June 2014). This letter is written for those passionate about the cause for better meats and who don’t mind a good ‘ol fund-raising pitch for a leading non-profit of the cause, Slow Food USA.
When it comes to meat in this country, the elephant in the room is a pig.
Industrial pig production is the poster child for the larger issues plaguing our food system. The status quo for pigs today is all about confinement. Pigs are confined in unethical ways. Flavors are confined to very few breeds. Wealth is confined to an agricultural economy that extracts income from rural communities.
This all comes at a cost to our land, animals, health and small farmers. It’s time to start talking about it. It’s time to start doing something about it.
Because Slow Food is doing something about it.
As a pig farmer who raises only heritage breeds, I want to see, and be a part of, a world and community that values biodiversity, resilience, and food access.
Slow Food’s new Slow Meat program is creating that world. It’s founded on the belief that eating better meat, and less of it overall, is the foundation of sustainable meat consumption.
It’s not easy to raise heritage animals humanely, without added antibiotics or hormones AND to make a living wage. Running a farm this way is difficult and expensive, but networks like Slow Meat have given my family farm the support to thrive with good, clean and fair values at the heart of our business model.
The question is: how do we move this type of farming from the sidelines to the mainstream? The answer lies not in what we are all doing individually, but what we do as a movement.
Slow Food is not only creating a space to solve tough questions but it’s also dedicated to building a system where farmers like me can raise animals humanely and support themselves while doing it.
I’m a farmer, not a fundraiser. But I truly believe in the work Slow Food is doing and I’m writing today to ask you to give what you can to ensure a better future for meat.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a farmer to make an impact on food and agriculture. Slow Food USA gives everyday people the opportunity to make a big impact in their community.
Josiah Lockhart is the Executive Manager at Lockhart Family Farm, a family owned and operated farm in Caroline County, Virginia. [They] focus on raising high quality rare and heritage breed pigs and poultry in a natural woodland environment. [Their] Animals are free-ranged with supplemental non-gmo grain. [They] sell direct to customer and to a number of restaurants in the Richmond and Williamsburg area.