Warning: The following post contains a couple of images that some may find graphic.
Chicken Harvest: what does that even mean? When I embarked on the Who’s Your Farmer project I was told if I wanted to understand how natural, free range chickens get from pasture to table, I needed to experience the chicken harvest. The word harvest threw me. I’d seen crops harvested, but not animals. Naturally I was curious, so off I went to Autonomy Farms in California’s Central Valley to learn how chickens get from farm to market.
A side note: I’m not a big meat eater. In fact I don’t eat beef or pork. There’s no religious or moral reason. It started as one of those things you try when you're young, like vegetarianism or Buddhism, and it stuck. It’s been years now. I’ve had a sampling or 2 over the years, even a steak recently (that’s a whole other story from the ranch…). One of my “rationales” to not eat red meat or pork has been that I should be willing to kill anything I was going to eat. As my reasoning went, I would never be able to kill a cow or a pig but I felt pretty confident I could kill a chicken. Of course, I’d never been in a position to kill a cow, or a pig, or even a chicken, so this was all completely theoretical. I honestly didn’t know how I would kill this imaginary chicken. Perhaps I would have to wring it’s neck? Well that’s not how they do it on the farm…..
Harvesting chickens is a bit gruesome for this city slicker.
But the process is actually quite simple: catch chicken, slit throat, bleed it out, (that’s the gruesome part), blanch in boiling water to loosen quills, drop in plucker machine, remove feet, head, and innards, package it up for market.
That’s about it - most of the harvest is nothing I haven’t done myself, in my own kitchen.
And there’s an air of respect for the birds here. Sure, they’re being raised for human consumption, but there’s nothing excessive about it. Most parts are harvested, including the organs and feet. The chickens look like chickens. Autonomy Farms is proud of their birds. They don’t have over inflated breasts. They run around the farm freely. And they actually taste like chicken, not the artificially plump, overly brined meat we’re so used to today.
So could I kill a chicken? I think yes, but it wouldn’t be as easy as I had rationalized…..
Some of the signs from the Women's March in San Diego, CA.
San Diego Women's March 2017
Stay Nasty San Diego
Without Immigrants Trump would have No Wives
Putin-Trump - Not My President
I won’t Sit down, Shut up, or Behave
Because I Love God, I Dissent
Hear Our Voice
I am here for the Women of Juarez for the women of Iran, Iraq, India Women of Tibet, Chipas & Guatemala, Women in the world that have been killed pursuing their human right. Give us respect. Treat us with dignity. Ni una mas!
Dear World: We are so sorry! Sincerely, 65.8M Americans
NO: Racism. Xenophobia. Sexism. Homophobia.
I got a bad feeling about this
Trump is mean
Proud American Woman
Paint the future in vivid color
Real men respect women
Unpresidented Putin Puppet
Love is the Answer
We the people defend dignity
Pussy Grabs Back
Women’s Rights are NOT up for grabs
Stop the Bullying Scapegoating and Denial of Facts
Keep your tiny hands off my Health Care
Peace Begins with Me
Rage Against the Patriarch
We Can Do It - Women Power
Resist - Say NO to misogyny & discrimination - Let your Voice be Heard
I’m with Her
Support your Sisters, NOT your Cisters and their Misters
A Woman’s Place is in the Rebellion
We will not mourn. We will Organize
I went to Planned Parenthood and all I got was: A breast exam, physical exam, STD testing and treatment, information and counseling about my sexual and reproductive health, cancer screenings, a pregnancy test, prenatal services, and access to affordable birth control.
Hate does not make America Great!
Keep your rosaries out of my ovaries
Make America Think Again
Our Bodies Our Minds Our Power
Not this Pussy!
Trump Loves Nickleback
Maybe some day my uterus will have as many rights as your GUN
We Speak - The Environment
President Trump…What a joke!
Keep your tiny hands off my Obamacare
Love Trumps Hate
Dear Trump, U-Ugly
Here’s to strong women - May we know them, raise them, Be them!
Pro-Choice - The hardest decision a woman can make is not yours
Women’s Rights = Human Rights #NotMyPresident
Roe v. Wade Must Stand
Women for Climate Justice
Fight Like a Girl
What is it with old men & Women’s Reproductive Rights
A Woman’s place is in the House and the Senate and the White House!
= ? Y not!
Our Bodies. Our Minds. Our Power.
“I raise my voice not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard” - Malala Yousafzai
We Are Still Here
I Stand with Planned Parenthood
This is the Wall
This isn’t Normal! Respect your sisters mothers wives aunts - Health Care Matters
Give a Damn.
Stop the War on Women
I don’t like to protest but… WTF?
We the People are greater than fear
Class of 2018 to the rescue!
I cannot believe I still need to protest this shit.
Break the Chains. - Feminist Comic Book Club
Trump Pay Your Taxes
Rights. Access. Visibility. Protection. Pay. Power.
Keep your laws off my body
What the F*** just happened!?
Butchering a whole animal is an artful skill. I worked at a restaurant in New Orleans years ago. It had it’s own butcher in house. It’s still one of the only restaurants I’ve know to have it’s own in house butcher. I remember being in awe of how quickly and efficiently he could break down an animal, dress a hen, filet a fish. He taught me to filet fish without gutting the animal - simply following the bone line down the back to remove the filet from each side of the fish. It seemed like magic, and so simple, when I finally learned to do it right.
Butchering an animal can be violent and strenuous. There is a lot of finesse to breaking down an animal. It’s pretty remarkable to witness. The butcher knows the lines, muscles, and bones of the animal intimately. Sides of beef can weigh several hundred pounds. Moving these beasts around takes strength. And not every cut is intricate. There are also the saws, and the large cuts, where brute strength is required.
Grocery store “butchers” are not in fact butchers. They are meat cutters. A butcher has the ability and skill to break down an entire animal. He has to know the animal. He has to know the bone structure, the muscle structure. So called grocery store butchers receive select sections of an animal and cut them down to serving size filets. They do not require the skill to break down a whole animal.
There is virtually no waste in the shop. It strikes me as a Native American approach to food. When the shop receives a side of beef they’ll break down all the regular cuts, the tenderloin, the ribs, etc. What’s not used for the case or primary cuts is used for in house deli meats, sausages, bacon, and stock. There is very little waste of the animal. And there are no preservatives or chemicals. It’s a very wholistic approach to animal consumption.
Local butchers know their suppliers and know where the meat they sell comes from. They’ve often toured the farms and ranches that supply their meat and have personal relationships with the farmers and ranchers. They get the best quality meats because it’s their product, their reputation on the line. They have their hands on every animal that makes it’s way through the case. If it’s not up to par, they’ll know it before you do.
The prices are still high. You pay a premium for hormone free, chemical free, non GMO and grass fed. There’s no way around it, yet. The industry is set up for cheaper and faster production, delivery and consumption: the CostCo / Walmart approach. The tide is slowly turning. Consumers are making their voices heard by seeking out organic and chemical free options. We have a long way to go and price is still a huge component of the equation. The more consumers opt out of hormone and chemical fed meats the more the scales will tip.
We need to support those that bring these great products to market. Thanks to Heart & Trotter for opening their shop to me and teaching me more about whole animal butchery. James Holster is the head butcher. Stop by and say hello next time you’re in North Park.
Who’s your farmer? Simple question, right? Not really….. I don’t know where 99% of the food I consume comes from. I mean, where it really comes from... So what does that mean for me? My family? The world?
I’ve embarked on a project exploring sustainable food - popularly know as Locally Sourced, Farm to Table or just plain Organic. For me it began years ago when I read Michael Pollan’s seminal book The Omnivores Dilemma. It planted a seed that’s been germinating ever since. Over the last several years I’ve visited organic farms and pastures. I’ve met and photographed dozens of hard working entrepreneurs looking to change the food system. They all have their reason’s for doing what they do: lifestyle, business opportunities, seeking social and environmental change. Whatever the reason, the one thing they have in common is they are producing food and products that are healthier for humans and the planet.
I believe there is an essential shift that needs to happen in order for us to break the cycle of faster and cheaper (read worse tasting and less healthy) food. You may not ultimately Know Your Farmer, but I hope to introduce you to some of the people that will change the way we produce and consume our food.
As I think back at 2016 there are a few images that jump to mind. This is by no means an extensive year in review, simply a handful of images I personally found impactful and meaningful. So in no particular order:
When I was in school and early in my career I fancied myself quite the street photographer. My heroes were Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Robert Frank and Walker Evans among many others. Earlier this week I found myself in New York City. So I spent a few days wandering the streets, getting in touch with my roots....
Ever since I moved my studio to Little Italy I've heard about the Stickball tournament on India Street. And every year it seemed like I missed it. In fact I couldn't have told you when the tournament actually took place. All I knew was it was one of those events I wanted to check out. Well this Memorial Day my son tells me he's playing in a stickball tournament in Little Italy. "The" stickball tournament in Little Italy I replied? He didn't know... but he did let me know I should check it out. Well it turns out this is not "The" tournament, that one is on Labor Day weekend and attracts teams from both San Diego and the East Coast. It is, however, the same organizers and most of the same guys, but just local teams. The games and tournament were as cool as I expected - a bunch of guys hitting a racquetball with a broomstick on a city street. What's not to love. And it's been a long time since I've seen a guy dive head first on asphalt to score a run! Can't wait til Labor Day!!
The DJ Trump circus rolled through town last Friday. Madness ensued.....
I’ve been a member of the SDX Board of Director for several years now. I was recently tasked by the Communications Committee to create portraits of my fellow Directors for use on the SDX website. The board has grown in recent years to 30+ members. It's a strong group of passionate individuals from the San Diego advertising, marketing and media fields. Given the large group of creative individuals I wanted to present the individual portraits as a complete, stand alone portfolio. I presented a mood board with candid black and white portraits. My approach was a theme that is popular with my corporate clients right now. I call it the "Moment between the Moments". It is that split second when the subject has let their guard down and is no longer "posing". Many of my corporate clients are looking for something a little different for their executive and staff portraits. The standard headshot is out. The environmental office portrait is waning. This candid approach has proven quite popular. I was pleased the Communications Committee approved the creative direction. All of my subjects bought into the concept as well. Everyone arrive inspired and ready for anything. In addition to the website, SDX created a series of ads featuring select portraits to run locally. The above ad features fellow Director Miguel Fenton, VP of Sales Local at Entravision. Below are the other portraits.
Dedicated to the hard working men and women that build ships and ultimately send them off to sea. Keep up the great work in 2016!
I had the pleasure of taking over the Wonderful Machine Instagram account for 3 days last week. I used the opportunity to feature some of my favorite and lesser known San Diego landmarks. I ended up posting about 36 images. Below are several of my favorites. To check out all the images visit the Wonderful Machine Instagram stream. To explore futher follow me on Instagram - @feriiiphoto