Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are Rabbits the New Super Meat?

  

By all appearances, rabbit could be the food of the future. Touted for years by food activists including Michael Pollan, these fluffy herbivores eat alfalfa instead of energy-intensive soy or fish meal, grow quickly and thrive in clean, disease-free conditions. Plus, while their reproductive prowess may be clichéd, California farmer Mark Pasternak and his wife Myriam can’t build rabbit barns fast enough to keep up with demand. 

Three years ago the couple’s Sonoma-area Devil’s Gulch Ranch had 250 breeding females, or does, a number that has since quadrupled to 1,000 and makes them one of the largest meat rabbit producers in the United States. At any one time, they have 9,000 rabbits, with 300 to 500 slaughtered every week for regional grocery stores and restaurants, including French Laundry, Chez Panisse, and Zuni Café. A single doe will have multiple litters every year, and those litters will reach breeding age within months; that means a rabbit can produce six pounds of meat on the same amount of feed and water it takes a cow to produce just one pound. 

In Pasternak’s opinion, European and European-trained chefs who are accustomed to cooking with rabbit are increasingly fuelling demand for the meat, which has a flavor and texture reminiscent of chicken. “When these chefs came over here, a lot of them were disappointed they couldn’t find good quality rabbit,” he says. “Every day I’m getting calls from new restaurants looking for it.”

For the rest of the story: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/05/are-rabbits-the-new-super-meat/

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