I'm always on the lookout for less-expensive restaurants serving Meat Of Known Origin.
The other day, I was walking by a place that had just opened near where I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It had been touted as a sustainable sandwich shop. The menu said that their pork was from White Marble Farms.
I asked the guy behind the counter if they got the meat directly from the farmers. He said, "No, but the meat is totally naturally-raised, and we get it from Sysco." "I see," I said.
This aroused my curiosity. For those of you who aren't familiar with Sysco:
Sysco Corporation is the largest foodservice distributor in North America. It distributes frozen foods, various canned and dry foods, fresh and frozen meats, seafood and poultry, imported specialties, and fresh produce. The company also supplies various non-food items, including disposable napkins, plates, and cups; tableware, cookware, restaurant and kitchen equipment, and cleaning supplies. It has its headquarters in the Energy Corridor district of Houston, Texas. [Wikipedia]Was Sysco selling sustainably-raised meat?
A quick search for "White Marble Farms" on the Internet revealed a San Francisco Chronicle article (which is worth a read). Here's a short quote:
White Marble Farms is a brand of Sysco, North America's largest food services distributor. The pork comes from Cargill Meat Solutions, America's second-largest meat processor. It is bred to ensure tender meat marbled with just enough flavor-boosting fat. But these pigs never see a pasture. They're raised indoors in confinement barns, just the way most commercial pork is produced, except in smaller numbers. Aside from genetics, they're conventional pigs wearing a lip gloss of sustainability.And their tails are cut off at birth. And they're fed pig blood and fat. In other words, the usual sad story.
Sysco's marketing has fooled even sophisticated restaurant owners who are trying to do the right thing.
Just because something has "farm" in its name doesn't mean it's from a farm.
Know your farmer.
(This post appears as part of Real Food Wednesday.)