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Preserve our meat: Save slaughterhouse in need - PHOTOS

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Buffalo eaters are spoiled.

Not in the “oh man, I forgot about the curry I left in the crisper from three weeks ago” kind of spoiled, but in the quality of ingredients served at a growing number of local restaurants. 

As Buffalo eateries like Trattoria Aroma, Carmelo’s, Bistro Europa, CRaVing, Tabree, Ristorante Lombardo—all of which boast four out of five stars on Yelp—thrive because of the immense flavor and freshness of their offerings, the desire for restaurants to purchase locally grown ingredients has slowly shifted away from “luxury” and now approaches “necessity.”

While that string of restaurants is by no means the only in the area to purchase ingredients from local farmers—they’re the most forthright, I suppose—understanding the chain of events that produces the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly banh mi from Tabree or CRaVing lends an enduring sense of satisfaction that transcends giddy taste buds and a content stomach.

To preserve and augment the availability of Western New York’s high-quality, local-centric meats, the Aroma Group will hold a fundraiser called “Staying Alive” from 6 to 9 tonight for Dispenza’s Meat Market and Slaughterhouse at Artisan Kitchens and Baths, 200 Amherst St., Buffalo.

A cash bar, dishes from three Aroma chefs centered around local beef, pork and chicken, live music, an auction whose winner gets to see the live breakdown of a T-Meadow Pig, and a bevy of prizes—including tickets to Nickel City Chef—are the main on-site draws, but the event’s mission—if reached—would mark the biggest prize.

Minimum donation is $50—but, before you get disenchanted by that number, read below what kind of a large-scale impact could result from this gathering.

Without offending the vegetarian readers of Buffalo.com—you can look away now if you can’t handle words like slaughter, butcher or coccyx (well, I’m kidding about coccyx, but I just made you quote “Napoleon Dynamite”)—a rare opportunity to morph Western New York into a pork and bacon national superpower confronts us. While I may be embellishing a tad, your ears probably perked up when you read “bacon.”

You’ve probably never heard of Dispenza’s, which dwells at 3130 Ridge Rd. in Ransomville, but its duty is integral to wildly popular entrees like Trattoria Aroma’s bolognese or carbonara—providing exceptional local products that support Western New York farms and protect the welfare of the animals eaten.

Here’s a ‘graph from Seychew’s article that explains why Dispenza’s is the recipient of this fundraiser:

Why a fundraiser for a slaughterhouse, you might ask. Dispenza’s purchased their small family business last year, and for a variety of reasons (including the unintentional inheritance of poorly maintained equipment) they are struggling with early, unexpected costs. But why should the community help this single small business when so many like it also struggle? Well, that’s a pretty important question. Dispenza’s isn’t just a meat market and slaughterhouse. For those who wish to support the local food movement, it’s a very important cog in the machine that is moving our region’s food system forward.

If you want to get a little more intimate with the Dispenzas, listen to Buffalo Eats’ podcast with the owners.

Because local slaughterhouses are dwindling across the U.S.—primarily due to the presence of massive corporations with superior reach and influence, Christa Glennie Seychew eloquently noted in her impassioned plea in Buffalo Spree—aiding the survival of not only Dispenza’s, but also the major Western New York farms where the pigs are raised.

At the recent A Big Fuss 3.0 [photos], I was able to spend a few minutes with T-Meadow Farm owner Rich Tilyou, who planned to use the money from the jam-packed Feed Your Soul Productions fundraiser to construct a USDA-approved butchering and processing facility to bolster output and avoid the cost of the present trip to Pennsylvania where the farm’s animals are currently prepared for sale.

Tilyou (pictured in the middle of photo above, left) was quick to mention Dispenza’s, particularly how Dispenza’s survival would enable T-Meadow to flourish—a symbiotic relationship between locally-owned food producers (gasp!)—sustaining the delicious porks, bacons and sausages Western New York eaters may take for granted.

Moreover, restaurants or food trucks—like Lloyd Taco Truck and the Black Market Food Truck in particular—are eager to incorporate T-Meadow Farm products into their menus, the BMFT’s Christian Willmott and Lloyd’s Chris Dorsaneo told me, as Tilyou’s restaurant waiting list is beyond extensive because the farm’s current output doesn’t come close to reaching the demand.

From a broader perspective, A Big Fuss 3.0 and tonight’s Dispenza’s fundraiser work toward the same end—sustaining the interconnected web between farm, middleman and the table of your preferred local restaurant.

For much greater detail, read Seychew’s opinion piece here.

(Photo of the Dispenzas from the slaughterhouse’s Facebook page, while Tilyou’s photo was taken by Robin David Brown from this gallery. The bottom photo is a sample-sized version of the Black Market BLT from A Big Fuss 3.0, while Tabree’s Bruce Wieszala is at work at the same event in the photo higher up the page).

TAGGED: buffalo spree, christa glennie seychew, dispenza's meat market, fundraisers, restaurants, rich tilyou, t-meadow farm, trattoria aroma

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