Sunday, June 13, 2010

Settle In, Because We're Going To Be Talking About This A Lot

First of all, everyone does realise there is a feed lot in the South Okanagan, right? You know, a place where they grow beef?

You also probably know that for a while, there was an abattoir in the South Okanagan as well...not to far from the feed lot. And by abattoir, I mean a place where people--anyone--who grew beef (or pork or lamb or hogget or mutton or chevon or cabrito) could have it processed and packaged.

Due to government regulations, about which much will be said in the coming posts, that slaughter facility no longer exists. The feed lot (the place where the beef is grown) is now without an abattoir (the place where the beef is harvested and packaged for consumption.) What should (and could) be an entirely functional system, providing economic opportunity to farmers and a competitive edge to the restaurant industry in the Okanagan, is now broken. I don't know for sure where the nearest slaughter facility is, but I'm pretty sure it isn't between Osoyoos and Vernon.

We'll get deeper into that as time goes on. For now, here's an article about a mobile slaughter facility.

Once you've read that, here's an article about the demand for local beef, to the tune of $8 a pound for brisket. While I think that's as much a reflection of the lunacy of what New Yorkers are willing to pay for things as it is a deep seated biological desire for artisan beef, it's probably safe to say that no matter what, the sale of local beef at the farmers market would generate a lot more income for the farmers growing it than, say, zucca melons or knitted polyester yarn pot holders. It's probably also safe to say that if the restaurant economy of the Okanagan became known for their local, sustainable, inventive beef (pork, lamb, hogget, mutton, chevon, cabrito) offerings, it might attract even more attention than it does now.

Everyone knows "in house" is the way to go. "Local" too. Besides, shouldn't we be rehearsing for when the trucks stop running?

Some questions:

1. Would you go to your local farmers market more or less often if you knew you could get artisan beef that was grown and processed in Oliver?

2. Why isn't there a co-op meat locker in the Okanagan, where meat can be hung for as long as desired?

3. Why isn't there a co-op slaughter facility in the Okanagan?

4. Would a co-op slaughter facility/meat locker be an asset or liability to the farmers and restaurant economy in the Okanagan?

5. Would a thriving artisan beef economy married to a thriving local, independent restaurant economy be an asset or liability to the economy of the greater Okanagan valley?

So many questions! And I really am asking. Let's tease this out and return functionality to the system!

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