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When Pigs Fly

February 16, 2011

I tried reaching out to chefs. Well, at the very least I opened myself up to the opportunity. Truth be told, I could and should be doing more to create lines of communication between the FLB and the professional kitchens around the Capital Region.

Maybe I should be reaching out to farmers too.

Just this week I stumbled onto a really exciting local pork producer. They are called Flying Pigs Farm. They are saving rare heritage breeds of pigs so that we can continue to eat them. And the farm seems to do just about everything right, which is no small feat. Food & Wine magazine even said they produce “Stunningly rich, moist, heritage pork.”

Flying Pigs Farm is about an hour away by car, northeast of Albany, across the river in Washington County. There is just one problem.

You can’t find their pork here.

Well, in theory you can order it online or you could pick it up at the farm. I very well may need to make a trip out there in the near future. But you cannot find it at local farmer’s markets or local restaurants.

Why? Because it all pretty much seems to go down to New York City.

Flying Pigs Farm pork is served at Jean-George, Gramercy Tavern, and several other notable restaurants in the area. If you are in Manhattan or Brooklyn you could even pick some up at the Saturday Farmer’s Markets in Union Square and Grand Army Plaza respectively.

To be fair, it is on the menu at The Farmhouse restaurant in Lake George.

Now there may be some very good reasons why the good folks at Flying Pigs Farm choose to drive their product an additional three hours past Albany to sell it in the city. But they can’t drive down there without passing through our fair hamlet. And yet they don’t stop to deliver leaf lard to the Honest Weight Food Co-op. They don’t drop off whole pigs (or even primal cuts) to Yono’s, The Brown Derby, Taste or New World Bistro Bar.

I understand that by selling to famous chefs in the big city a farm increases its cachet. And I also understand the market is larger and there is just more money overall in NYC.

But it’s hard to see this and not consider it an opportunity. Perhaps at some point in the past there was no market for their product in the Capital Region. Maybe there isn’t still. But I would like to think that the climate is changing.

Regardless, it would be interesting to get to the bottom of this. It’s a solvable mystery. And now it’s made my to-do list.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard L permalink
    February 16, 2011 10:56 pm

    Many such farms produce very little and since they are so well known, they can sell it all in NYC. What doesn’t go to restaurants, can all be sold in a few hours at Union Square. That is much easier than driving from restaurant to restaurant around here or competing with lower quality and lower price sellers at the local farmers market. The real issue is why don’t the high-end Albany restaurants go to the trouble and expense to get this pork. Perhaps neither the chefs nor their customers can tell the difference. Pearls before swine.

  2. Vicki permalink
    February 17, 2011 4:15 pm

    About a month back, New York Magazine had a really awesome article about this farm and pork in general. While I was very happy to see the farm was so close, I too was dismayed that local restaurants are not serving their pork and also that you can’t get it at our local farmer’s markets.
    We have been contemplating a trip to the farm, but still that puts it in the “special occasion” category! I wish they would sell at local markets!!!

  3. February 21, 2011 1:46 pm

    Hi commenters, Greg from Flying Pigs Farm here.

    Just wanted to thank Daniel for this post and everyone for taking an interest in what we do. A few comments…

    -As Richard suggests, we are a very small farm and thus are able to sell the vast majority of our products in NYC. Our price point–which we believe is very reasonable based upon how we raise these rare hogs–tends to fit NYC consumers more so than those here upstate. In addition, we are so small that we are not able to sell individual cuts or items to specialty stores like Honest Weight Co-Op.

    -We have sold to restaurants in Albany and Saratoga every now and then, but none have become as steady as our restaurant customers in NYC have. Still, we are happy to arrange sales to any restaurant in the area that is interested in our products. See here: http://flyingpigsfarm.com/purchase-products/for-chefsrestaurants/

    -Finally, we are very seriously considering doing a farmers market in the area this coming season. If you have suggestions as to which ones would be best, please let us know!

    Thanks again for your interest in Flying Pigs Farm.

    • AddiesDad permalink
      February 28, 2011 12:34 pm

      Another vote for the Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market!

  4. February 28, 2011 11:31 am

    Hi Greg, here’s one vote for the Saratoga Springs farmer’s market.

  5. February 28, 2011 11:52 am

    I really appreciate Greg’s feedback. While it’s not entirely surprising, I still find it to be disappointing. Actually more than disappointing. I’m going with embarrassing.

    Hopefully today’s post provides more context to this assertion. It also includes a list of restaurants where Flying Pigs Farm should be on the menu and a pitch for my favorite local farmers markets.

    http://bit.ly/MoreThanDisappointing

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