Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Pig Idea

This is not my big idea, by the way. But what are we, if not mosaics of stolen pieces of other people's brilliance and inspiration? Tristram Stuart, a professional gleaner in the UK was horrified at an early age by the amount of food waste in his school cafeteria, and began feeding the food scraps to his pigs, and feeding his community some of the often overlooked, but still delicious pig-parts. He is now a famous gleaner responsible for the many “Feeding the 5000” events that have taken place around the world.

One local version of this same brilliance comes in the form of Chris Brown of Brown Family Farm in Bar Harbor. Chris has been gleaning from Hannaford Supermarket to feed his pigs and support a Community Meal, which he organizes every Thursday from 3-6pm at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Bar Harbor. Another pioneer is Stewart White of White's Farm in Monroe, who until recently would pick up school food waste to take back to the farm, taking his piglets along for the ride for the kids to experience. Unfortunately, Stewart is too worried about what is being fed to the kids to actually feed the scraps to his pigs; he also gets no return from this activity. However, virtually anyone who has pigs and birds at a non-commercial level is doing some form of gleaning: that is repurposing food in quality appropriate ways. In order to ensure quality and to support the many decentralized gleaning systems that are developing throughout Downeast Maine, the Gleaning Initiative is developing a Community-Based Gleaning Guide to meet the needs of partners in all food sectors across the region.

For the sake of context, we are in the second chapter of the Gleaning Initiative's Exploratory Phase. The first chapter was a time for networking, outreach, community-building, and on-farm gleaning. This second chapter adds in farmers’ market gleaning, restaurant food waste prevention, retail-to-pantry, on-farm resource-based consulting, surplus management, marketing, and transportation. We are expanding to Washington County, and we have also just recently added our first official processing experiment. 

Deborah Evans of Bagaduce Farm is an incredible community player. From the beginning, she has bought in to the gleaning idea, and we have had many a conversation about how to include different versions of The Pig Idea. We worked with David's Folly Farm to raise money for two pigs for the Tree of Life, thanks to the Aragosta at the Barn event for which Deborah donated a pig (see June post in A Girl's Got to Glean). We have had informal gatherings to taste headcheese and pick the pig heads to make pork tacos. We have grilled pig tails and eaten them ¨like popsicles¨, by suggestion of Aragosta Sous Chef Susannah Taylor. Most recently, led by Deborah Evans, we had our first official processing workshop and made a Danish pig liver pate at the Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill, for which we had seven participants from the ages of 6 to 65. 

To follow the recipe see: http://www.food.com/recipe/danish-pork-liver-pate-13895

As we continue to think about the many creative ways in which we can rescue and repurpose food that is otherwise going to waste, the question arose of whether we could use frozen pig liver to make pate. Interestingly enough, people who were connected to one of the seven volunteers who joined the workshop at the Halcyon Grange loved it. Others to whom the product was presented to without context, maybe not so much. Some wise palates say that frozen pork liver is not ideal, or that purely pork liver pate is in fact liver pasté, generally accepted as a Northern European traditional food that would be a very different taste for many of those raised on an American diet. Is this something worth putting a lot of energy into? What are the health benefits of eating liver? Maybe we can do it again and have a tasting of the different variations of the recipe and decide next steps. I can just see Bagaduce Farm celebrating the 10th Annual Pork Pate Pop-Up Party in Blue Hill Maine. 

Imagine... got liver?


Check us out in the news!

NATIONAL - http://newsdef.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/08/20/25505636-gleaning-americas-farms-unused-crops-feed-hungry-families#th4131487-c84944874

REGIONAL - http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/gleaning-program-puts-garden-surplus-on-tables-helps-fight-food-insecurity-in-hancock-county/

LOCAL - http://weeklypacket.com/news/2014/aug/28/gleaning-initiative-connects-farm-produce-with-peo/#.VAYPTUgU7Xc

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