|Keeping It Local: Meat-Eating With the Mobile Matanza|
|Thursday, 28 July 2011 00:00 | Written by Joan McGrane | Blog Entry|
I’m definitely a city girl, but I’ve adjusted well to living in a rural environment. In the city, my commute included bridge tolls and high stress. Now, it’s a 10-minute drive down a two-lane road through expanses of pastureland owned by farmers and ranchers, most of whose families have lived on this land for centuries. Rural living can provide great value to one’s life in many ways, not least by offering greater access to organic vegetables, fruits and even meats.
We all know the health benefits of eating organically grown fruits and vegetables; organically raised meats offer some of the same benefits—better taste and texture, with no unwanted hormones or antibiotics. And it matters to me that the animal had a peaceful life of roaming and grazing.
Here in Taos, many small ranchers have access to the services of a mobile slaughtering unit called the Mobile Matanza. “Matanza” means slaughter in Spanish, but it connotes other things too, like harvest, sharing and bounty.
The white truck with the butcher on board comes to the animals, a stun gun knocks them out and a knife is used to sever an artery. The slaughter is done in as humane a way as possible. The butcher cuts it, wraps it for refrigeration or freezing, and leaves the rest for the rancher to compost. It’s all USDA approved.
The Mobile Matanza is operated by the Taos County Economic Development Corporation. Terrie Bad Hand and Pati Martinson, co-directors of the TCEDC, founded it 21 years ago, but the Mobile Matanza program is just two years old.
Initial market research conducted by the TCEDC in the Taos area back in the 80s consisted of door-to-door, neighbor-by-neighbor inquiry. The results of that research established that the greatest need of farmers and ranchers was affordable food production.
The Mobile Matanza covers a 100-mile radius and services only livestock (no game). Most common are cattle, pigs, sheep, bison, goats and yaks. The cost to the farmers is about 60 cents per pound, far less than the cost of having to transport the animals over great distances for the slaughter.
The organically raised meat is available at the local organic grocery store, or you and a friend can share the cost and pay your neighbor the farmer to raise an animal for you. Almost everyone lives near a farm where they can buy an animal to provide a winter’s sustenance.
Terrie and Pati envision the Mobile Matanza in other parts of the state, but that will depend on continued funding from the state and the support of Governor Richardson.
The Mobile Matanza is a win for all and an excellent model for the future economic sustainability of small ranches and farms. The local economy benefits by keeping its small farming alive, meat eaters get access to the best unadulterated meat and the animals’ suffering is minimized by their not having to be herded and transported great distances to the slaughter.
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