The second story in my occasional World-Herald series “Locally Grown” ran on Sunday. It’s about Travis Dunekacke and his boutique farm, TD Niche Pork, where he raises heritage breed, pure bred hogs that he sells to chefs in Omaha, Lincoln and Nebraska City.
I really enjoy writing the stories in this series. I love eating and I love writing about the pleasure that comes along with eating. But I think the link between what we eat and what we know about our food is important, too.
I first started to think about where my food comes from long before it was my job. I listen to “This American Life,” on NPR, and during one episode host Ira Glass interviewed a guy who was raising chickens in his backyard because he wanted fresh eggs. But the man’s wife wouldn’t eat those eggs. Instead, she went to the grocery store and bought eggs there, in a carton. She felt more comfortable eating factory produced eggs from a big box store instead of ones that came out of birds in her own back yard. (I tried to find the episode so I could link it but I had no luck; if you know it please link it in the comments.)
Anyway, that disconnect struck me. It’s stuck with me ever since.
When I married into a farming family, I started asking questions. It’s how the grass fed cow experiment came about, and I wrote about it in the first story in Locally Grown. I’ve asked my patient father-in-law literally thousands of questions about cows, corn, soybeans, tractor equipment: You think of it, I’ve probably asked it. I asked Travis at least a hundred more questions so I could learn about hogs, and I visited his farm twice to see it for myself. My curiosity, and many more questions, remain.
“Locally Grown” gives me an outlet to find out where my own food comes from, even though sometimes it makes me feel weird and sometimes I don’t want to think about it. I want to understand. I wish more people did.
You’re probably not surprised that I ended up buying a fourth of a Berkshire hog from TD Niche, and I wrote about that too. Here’s the hog I bought, Number 50. He’s in the middle with the white face. (Try not to be weirded out that I posted a picture of my food. You’ll get used to it.) I’ve never cooked pork at home before, and I’ve had some success and some failure. The biggest success yet: a bone-in shoulder cut that I roasted in the oven last weekend. Simply divine.
I took some videos when I was visiting the farm. One captures the some of the smaller pigs running around like mad. In the other one, those same younger TD Niche hogs are eating a special treat from the Grey Plume.Tweet