Sunday, November 16, 2014
New Yorker - "Elite Meat"
"To the concerned consumer, Fernald offers broad permission to indulge again. Her animals are raised in seemingly ideal conditions, and die about as calmly as food animals can. The ruminants eat only grass; the omnivores eat grain grown on the farm, supplemented with organic, G.M.O.-free feed that the farm buys. Her handlers practice low-stress stockmanship, gently coaxing the animals into trailers and corrals and into the twenty-thousand-square-foot slaughterhouse she designed in consultation with the animal-welfare expert Temple Grandin. The last sounds a Belcampo animal will likely hear are “Sh-h-h, sh-h-h, sh-h-h,” whispered by a handler it has known since birth. After that, the “knocker,” equipped with a bolt pistol and headphones, renders it unconscious with a pop. The breakdown of each animal is painstaking; Belcampo processes only eight cows a week. The result of all this care is a product that is precious in every sense: Belcampo’s premium cuts can cost four times as much as their equivalent in conventional meat. For internal accounting, the farm charges the shops “high market plus twenty per cent.”
“I live in a bubble and I’m trying to create a bubble,” Fernald told me. “I recognize that we’re creating a product that is financially non-viable for a lot of people. But I’m also prepared for when the health impact becomes undeniable and people decide to reprioritize their budgets. I think my bubble’s going to get bigger. Not because I’ll find more rich people—I think more of the rest of America is going to decide this is worth it.”"