Lately our pigs have been enjoying a little Italian food: whey and chestnuts. The famous Parma prosciutto and ham come from pigs raised on a whey and grain diet, then finished on chestnuts. I do have some suspicions about just how much of the caloric intake comes from chestnuts (similar to reservations I have about just how much acorns go into Iberian acorn finished pigs), but I think it is safe to say that in the good old days at least, the nuts were the major food source. In those same good old days, it would have been impractical to remove the whey from the cheese production, so the pigs were fed whey in barns at the cheese-making sites. Once the summer dairy season started winding down, the fall/winter nut season began, allowing the pigs to finish out in the woods. Then they’d be rounded up and slaughtered during the late winter.
But we’ve gone one step farther. We’re feeding pigs whey AND chestnuts at the same time. So take that Parma!
The latest This American Life episode, had a fun segment on food marketing and the tenuous relationship between the product being sold and the story being told. Case in point? The Carl’s Jr ad for “The Most American Thickburger“. They crammed a lot of mediocre food together and served it with a scoop of sex appeal, a side of evocative imagery, and a 64 ounce pitcher of ice cold irony. But it sold well.
So what do we need our farm’s marketing story to tell? We know that foodies love claims to some specific regional food heritage. The story needs to include salt-of-the-earth characters, nods toward sustainability, and some way to position a mass-market food as an uncommon delicacy. So, in the spirit of Carl’s Jr advertising, here is the script for our new porkchop advertising campaign:
What can be better than a porkchop?
produced in the finest Parma tradition
from a heritage breed pig who is
eating organic Italian chestnuts
and drinking artisanally crafted cheddar whey
while receiving a loving pat on the head
from a hard-working, clean-living farmer
while standing in a pasture
on a small family farm
surrounded by apple trees
under a clear blue sky
and double rainbows.
There. I think that manages to push all the buttons.