There’s a fascinating special story in today’s Albany [NY] Times Union. Written by restaurant critic Steve Barnes, “Farm to market: A lamb’s short life, from country meadow to dinner table” (May 22, 2008) tells the life story of Lamb No. 2735, who was born June 6, 2007. In an interview this morning with radio host Don Weeks, at 810WGY, Steve said he felt that omnivores have a moral obligation to understand where their meat comes from. He stressed that Lamb No. 2735 had as idyllic a life and death as can be expected in this country. There is an online photo gallery, and a separate article about the slaughtering process, which in this instance “strives to be humane.”
Today, at Steve’s Table Hopping weblog, he says:
Times Union photographer Luanne Ferris and I spent 11 months following a lamb from Elihu Farm in Easton, Washington County. We were there the day he was born (when farm owner Mary Pratt was holding him at right), then periodically checked in for almost a year. We watched him grow, followed him to the slaughterhouse, witnessed the butchering, took photos when one of his legs became the centerpiece of a family’s Passover meal, and I ate a spectacular tasting menu featuring the lamb at J.T. Baker’s New Cuisine in Greenwich, which regularly buys Elihu lamb.
On his 9-month birthday, No. 2735 weighed about 120 pounds and was ready to go to market in time for the high demand around Easter and Passover. Barnes notes that he was “still just a pip compared to his father, Max” and explains that Elihu Farm “names its few mature rams, but its hundreds of ewes and lambs must be kept track of by number.”
I learned a lot about the life, death and marketing of lamb from this story. I eat very little red meat, but agree with Steve Barnes that omnivores need to understand how meat gets to their table.
the stillness of a lamb
the white legs
of lambs and goths
the whiteness of water
beside the ewes
late spring walk
where the ewe was sheared
of penned sheep
………………. by Carolyn Hall
- The Heron’s Nest (Valentine Award 2005, Special Mention)