Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More preserved meat than is absolutely necessary

So there's this Year of Meat going on at Charcutepalooza, and, while I am not a blogger, I am playing one on the internet for the purposes, not only of recording my own culinary adventures/mishaps, but - believe it or not - of engaging in actual research. Yes, for those of you who don't know me, or what I'm up to, I am a cultural anthropologist at the College of William & Mary, and I am carrying out ethnographic research (ethnography: academic way of saying "studying people") on pasture-raised pigs in the Piedmont of North Carolina, where I live. So, I'll be illustrating this blog with meats procured from the farmers I work with, who raise their animals using Animal Welfare Approved practices and facilities.

The research entailed in this blog comes from you, gentle reader. Because a critical feature of my work has to do with trying to understand why niche market/outdoor raised/heritage breed pigs have become so central to food activisms of all sorts. What has, rather suddenly, drawn such strong social and political attention to the perils of our food system; and why are pigs so prominent a feature of this attention? What are the implications of redefining our relationship to food - and to meat in particular - for our health, our environments, our labor force? To what extent is this a real "sea change" in our culture? Will we remain as committed to these concerns in the coming years, or will we indulge in new obsessions? So here's where you come in. Why have YOU taken an interest in charcuterie and other carnivorous endeavors (at least, I'm assuming you have, if you're reading this - but, if not, tell me why you're NOT, that's equally interesting)? What do you find compelling about meat? Do you care about where your meat comes from, how it's raised and processed? How much do you know about it? How has your interest in cooking changed your interest in pork (and, ok, other meats) in recent years? I'm all (virtual) ears.

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