Using the Whole Hog Means Sustainable Butchering

March 23, 2011

At some point in your childhood, I'm sure someone looked at your and said, "Fine, but you have to eat the whole thing..." Well Mom, here goes.

Recently, a growing number of restaurants have been serving so-called nose-to-tail dinners featuring a zero-waste whole-hog feast. While this trend has been hailed for its sustainability and locavores everywhere can rejoice, the ideas may be new but the cooking process isn't. Back in the day (okay, a few centuries ago...), food has always been valued much moreso than it appears to be in today's popular culture. It would have been blasphemous to simply throw away good meat - and every part of the animal was put to good use (think black pudding). It has really only been in the past century that there has been such an apparent surplus of food to justify throwing it away - but no more! At least not for these restaurants.

Two Boston restaurants in particular have helped to reinvigorate this trend with surprising success. Posto (an Italian restaurant in Somerville) and Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar both offer whole-hog dinners for parties of 10 or more. With the price hovering in the $40/person range, this is definitely not a trend for everyone, but given that the meal is based on a zero-waste mentality and seasonally available produce, it seems hard to say no. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Chef Brian Reyelt of the Citizen Public House admits that he has been roasting a pig a night since the beginning of the year and is booked out until May.

Now, if only the restaurants let patrons pilgrimage to the farm to meet their pig in person - or is that too much?

Source: The Boston Globe

Photo by Dan Perdue
Banner photo by James Theophane



Beverly Sowa's picture

I agree that Americans are very separate from the sources of their food and that to not use the entire carcass is wasteful and disrepectful yet it's going to take some time for me to get used to this entree.

Rebecca Collins's picture

I just ate bacon for my breakfast that belonged to the pigs I fed for the last time just over a week ago (the curing and smoking process took that long). I know what those pigs ate. I know how how happy and unstressed they were. I know their deaths were humane, and that their lives were wonderful. I met their mother, and whispered in one of her huge, sow-like floppy ears (while a new batch of babies ran laps around her enormous teats) that I would take good care of her babies until it was time for them to take good care of me. This morning, while my kitchen smelled heavenly, and I waited for that perfect moment of crispness so I could remove the bacon from the griddle, I said "thank you" to those pigs one more time. And then I tucked in.