Mobile slaughter unit returns to Venetucci Farm

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If you missed last November's demonstration of Ranch Foods Direct's mobile slaughter unit, you can learn all about its methods and mission between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Venetucci Farm.

Before considering attending, you may wish to watch my slideshow from last year, accessible inside this blog post, to make sure you're OK with the inherent level of blood and guts involved.

Farm life the sustainable way.

Personally, having not grown up on a farm, I found the demo to be super-enlightening, in terms of understanding where my food comes from and all the resources and sacrifices involved. If you're gonna eat meat, you should see this.

Here's some more info from a newsletter, in which I'm quoted from last year's event at the bottom:

A mobile meat processing trailer - one of only a handful anywhere in the country and built as a joint venture between Ranch Foods Direct and Renewable Harvest, a nonprofit organization - is making a return appearance at Venetucci Farm next week, offering tours and a live harvest demonstration.

The abattoir-on-wheels was introduced to the community last November with an open house at Venetucci, Colorado Springs' community-owned working farm. In May, the unit received official USDA certification, meaning animals processed in the trailer meet all federal inspection requirements for approval of sale through retail facilities.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m., general touring will be available, followed by a full day of live harvesting on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Wednesday's open house runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Callicrate Beef burgers will be served at noon.

Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate says the event is a way for people to connect with where their food comes from and how it gets from the field to the table. It's also a chance to learn about an innovation that could help alleviate processing shortages and lack of market access for small family farmers. Mobile units are an affordable, practical, humane alternative to large packing plants that process as many as 500 head of livestock per hour.

"Providing additional small scale processing with mobile units like this one is important in rebuilding local and regional sustainable food systems," Callicrate says.

Ranch Foods Direct officials acknowledge that the live harvest demo might not be suitable for all audiences, but last year's event drew dozens, including families with small children, to observe the basic miracle that transforms well-cared-for animals into a source of healthy food using a humane model that eliminates the considerable stress of long-haul trucking. Warren Epstein, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette, described it as "an unusual field trip opportunity," where most who came were undaunted by the prospect of biting into a burger after witnessing the slow and compassionate slaughter process. And Matthew Schniper, an editor for the Colorado Springs Independent, observed that no one seemed to get squeamish, adding, "At the end of the day, this is farm life, and the mobile unit is seeking to help it function better."

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