"Our special today is a slow-cooked, pulled-pork sandwich on a hot, fresh roll," the woman told me. Her pen hovered over a sauce-stained pad, ready to record my lunch order. A piquant, cumin-limned aroma drifted from the kitchen. "It's been marinating for hours."
It sounded so good, I almost made her repeat it—a little dirty talk before moving on to the consummation.
"Sounds amazing," I said. "Smells amazing. Where does the pork come from?"
She answered with a blank stare: "What do you mean?"
Even in allegedly enlightened Santa Fe, such a non-answer remains all too common. Sometimes someone will say "a pig" or "probably Sam's Club." The same is true for beef, chicken and, really, most foods and ingredients. I have yet to hear anyone say "an appalling, overcrowded, indoor factory farm where the sickly animals are jacked up on antibiotics so they'll stay alive just long enough to make slaughtering weight."
But that's usually the truth. It takes some practice, some prioritization—some exercise of choice—to only order meat from restaurants and markets that know where their protein comes from and have chosen those suppliers based on health, environment and animal welfare, in addition to flavor.
And Santa Fe has chosen to embrace locavorism, including the many excellent, regional suppliers of lamb, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, goat and even yak. In the three years that SFR has published its locavore's guide to Santa Fe, the local food movement has continued to feel like it's tilting toward a full-blown renaissance. But the movement has also found some inevitable friction. Food is a key component of the economy, and the progress of a local food movement is tied to the progress of a local economy movement.
From the palpable importance within the existing tourist economy of Santa Fe's many excellent and increasingly innovative restaurants to the quiet rise of artisanal cheese makers and niche produce farmers, food is making its mark. Like other industries, however, it is being marked by the challenge of financing, a sparsity of investment and a struggle to integrate production and distribution systems into a value chain that extends from family businesses out into regional commerce networks.
Below the veneer of a frozen national and global economy, Santa Fe's local economy is, as usual, pushing and pulling in all directions. This year's issue of Devour is an initial embarkation into investigating food's place within our local and regional economy, and the economy's role in providing nourishment for community wealth and common benefit.
From education to apiaries and from investment funds to culinary capital, we've laid out the ingredients to an evolving and nutritious economy.
Check out the digital edition HERE...or browse story by story below:
WTF is Local?
Local isn’t a cult. Local isn’t a contest. You don’t have to do without if you can’t find it in town. You needn’t limit your diet to what you can forage in your backyard or things you can kill with a stick.
Nurse, Get Me a Hoe!
Inspired by the recent flush of community gardens in parks, neighborhoods and affordable housing developments, Earth Care International is preparing to launch a mobile toolshed.
Living the Dream
“Farming should be an occupation, a career choice that people can make a really good living at,” Arty Mangan says. To that end, Mangan is working with acclaimed ecologist Peter Warshall to develop a map and pamphlet that plot New Mexico’s way forward into a more sustainable, localized, fair trade culinary future.
It didn’t take an MBA to identify the bottleneck in Kenneth Baltz’ egg supply chain. He needed more chickens. With the help of a pair of small, local loans, the 60-year-old semi-retired farmer had them. Eight hundred more of them, in fact—plus a new 6,000-square-foot pen to protect his investment from the coyotes that frequent the farm he and his wife, Judy, own just north of Abiquiu.
The Color of Money
Within a month of becoming president of the Santa Fe-based Permaculture Credit Union, Don Sarich had his first encounter with a skeptical government regulator. “One of the regulators said to me, ‘Don’t worry, you can get a job somewhere else because we’re going to shut you down.’ That’s a true quote,” Sarich says. “I thought, ‘Now I have to prove you wrong.’”
Five Ways to Be a Better Locavore…
You can always buy stuff, but how often can you buy essential locavore skills locally?
Where’s the Beef?
When buying meat in New Mexico, one has many options—grass-fed, grass-finished, natural, organic, grain-fed, Slim Jims—but only approximately a 1 percent likelihood that it’s from here. That could change. A 2008 report commissioned by Beef Industry Improvement of New Mexico says branding (the marketing kind) would be a huge boon to the local beef industry.
ln a brightly lit classroom at Salazar Elementary School, two dozen 9- and 10-year-olds wield knives, have direct access to large amounts of flour and crowd in tight groups around three small tables, vying for a turn to take part in a single activity. The weird thing is, they’re all perfectly well-behaved.
The Local Economy
If the local economy were a pinball game, how well would you be scoring?
Waiting for the Future
The future really ought to be now. If 2010 isn’t the future, we don’t know what is and we’re starting to get suspicious about whether or not it’s ever going to show up. New Mexico’s future has to do with more than just Virgin Galactic’s spaceport and Chevron’s 1 megawatt concentrating photovoltaic power array—there are a host of local and regional initiatives we’re also waiting around for that aim to improve daily life and local living.