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Tana Butler

"We acquired the pigs last year. My wife was born on a pig farm and has always been very fond of pigs. Of course, they are for eating, which is why they are named Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You wouldn’t want to eat Rufus, Marcus and Esmeralda." —Sir John Mortimer

Or Alanis. Maybe?


There are some great independent, sustainable pig farmers near the Triangle: Eliza MacLean comes to my mind, but if I recall correctly the Chapel Hill Creamery raises some pigs and I would bet there are others, just because the culture is so established (cf. Carrboro Farmers Market).

Whether or not that meat is available to the restaurant is another question; small farmers choose often which restaurants they'll work with, and they generally pick places that will structure their business to be aware of the reality of farming (i.e., you can't call a farmer and order 10 cases of pork chops, unless he/she has a customer for all the other parts of those pigs.)

Niman Ranch, interestingly, used to work with a group of independent pig farmers in North Carolina, but that stopped a couple years ago. I heard that the long distance from the farms to the Niman Ranch processor in Iowa was at the root of the issues, but that is second hand info.

As for your broader implication, I totally agree: while I've no knowledge either way about Watts Grocery (never having been there), at far too many places, the phrase "we work with local vendors as much as possible" means "to the extent they can match industrial operations in price, convenience and availability." Which means, "not much at all."


Watts makes me sad. Two visits, probably not again.

Try Piedmont in Durham when you come back for some fine local swine (although I don't think they are breaking down whole pigs as much as they used to and it's a bit of a drive from Raleigh).

Cane Creek (Eliza MacLean) raises excellent pork. There are more than a few other pork purveyors (I do like the fatback I get from Eco for lard rendering), but Jay is right in that their production is small and certainly do not always have enough to guarantee product to restaurants on a consistent basis.


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