Announcing: Rabbit Week West, 2/20 – 2/22

January 29, 2010

Meat & Greet at Pizzaiolo: Issue 10 Launch Party

We’re honored to collaborate with Pizzaiolo and a crew of amazing chefs to bring you a range of beautiful, seasonal dishes and artisan cocktails. Please raise a glass with us!

A cocktail party, celebration, and fundraiser for Meatpaper. There will be stews, roasted meats, charcuterie and other dishes (both meaty and vegetarian), wine, beer, and cocktails.


February 21, 7pm – 10pm

5008 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609

Charlie Hallowell and Julya Shin, Pizzaiolo
Chris Kronner, Bar Tartine
Morgan Maki, Bi-Rite
Leif Hedendal, Cooking with Leif
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water
Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats
Mark Gravel, Bouwerie
Prather Ranch Meat Company
Christa Manalo, Beretta
Scribe Winery
Handley Cellars
Baker Lane Vineyards
Trumer Pilsner
Magnolia Brewery
St. George Spirits
and more, to be announced…

Advance tickets are required.
Purchase tickets here.

East Meats West II

You might have heard about our exciting November events in Brooklyn with our friends at Diner and Diner Journal. We collaborated to produce an amazing rabbit feast, and now, the Diner folks are flying west for a rabbit redux so you, too, can taste the magic!

Chefs Chris Kronner of Bar Tartine in San Francisco and Sean Rembold of Diner in Brooklyn team up to create a 4-course dinner featuring Devil’s Gulch rabbits. There will be signature cocktails and wine pairings. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the Pasternak’s fund to help the community in Haiti that they serve.

February 22
Two seatings, 6pm and 9pm

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110


A Delicious Drink
from Christa Manalo of Beretta

A Festive Aperitif
from Lance of St. George Distillery

Rabbit Charcuterie
rabbit sausage; rabbit en gelee; smoked rabbit loin; toast, pickles and mustard

Shaved Celeriac Salad
toasted masa organics almonds

Andante Pecorino Dungeness Crab Salad
baby nagoya and white peacock kale; watermelon radishes; chopped soul food farm egg; buttermilk dressing

Breakfast for Dinner
fried tartine brioche; sautéed rabbit livers; “hollandaise sauce”

Rabbit Legs Various Ways
hind leg al mattone; crispy fried fore leg; sweetbread country gravy; little city greens; twice baked parsnips

Secret Desserts
from Liz Prueitt of Tartine and Stacie Pierce of Chez Panisse


For 6pm ticket purchase, click here.
For 9pm ticket purchase, click here.

The Rabbit Course

Rabbits are the new chicken. As one of the most sustainable meat choices available, rabbit is quickly becoming a favorite for conscientious home cooks. Come spend an afternoon with Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch and Chef Samin Nosrat for a hands-on butchering and cooking class.

In the first half-hour, Mark will describe his rabbit husbandry practices at Devil’s Gulch Ranch, where he raises rabbits for some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants, including Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe, Quince Restaurant and The French Laundry.

Next, we’ll move into the kitchen where Samin will show you the ins and outs of butchering a rabbit—then it’ll be your turn: each student will receive a rabbit to break down into primal cuts. The class will end with a cooking demonstration of how to extract the most flavor from your rabbit, with recipes for a rich stock, kidney and liver paste, Tuscan rabbit ragu and tips on how to best season, grill and braise rabbit meat.

A rabbit butchery and cooking class with Samin Nosrat

February 20
4 pm- 6:30 pm

4629 Martin Luther King Junior Way
(At the corner of 47th and MLK)
Oakland, CA 94609

To Enroll: Visit the event page at Brown Paper Tickets

12 students max.
Each student will butcher and take home his/her rabbit and a butchery and recipe guide.

A professional cook and freelance writer, Samin Nosrat looks to tradition, culture and history for inspiration. Trained in the Chez Panisse kitchen, she cooked there for several years before moving to Italy, where she worked closely with the Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini and chef Benedetta Vitali for nearly two years. She spent five years as the sous chef and “farmwife” at Eccolo restaurant, butchering, brining, and preserving nearly everything in an effort to make the restaurant as self-sustaining as possible. Her writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Meatpaper, and Edible San Francisco, as well as on her blog, Ciao Samin.

Author: | Filed under: Meatpaper events

Why No One Wants to Eat the Meat House: The complicated world of meatchitecture

January 15, 2010

interview by Heather Smith
This article originally appeared in 
Meatpaper Issue Ten.

DREAMS  OF  GINGERBREAD  HOUSES and chocolate palaces are a dime a dozen. Fantasies of living in a pork chop: less so. Which is why the In Vitro Meat House, though it looks like a yam with surgical tubing stuck in it, is worth a closer look. Mitchell Joachim, founder of Terreform, the group responsible for its design, was kind enough to answer a few of Meatpaper’s more urgent questions about the domestication of the flesh.

So tell us the story of how the meat house began.

MITCHE LL JOACHIM: The story of the meat house began with the PETA prize. PETA offered $1 million to anyone who could demonstrate a major breakthrough in solving the human consumption of meat by coming up with a market-ready lab-grown meat product. We thought, “Well, it depends on how you define human consumption of meat. And meat product.”

But no one is actually building houses out of dead cows.

MJ : We never really thought PETA would go for it. They had all these other, very specific parameters that clearly excluded a meat house. But it was the source of the idea.

What has the response been like?

MJ : The response has been good. Which is surprising. People tend to make fun of us for the other things we’ve designed. Like the Fab Hab Living Tree House. That was built out of a latticework of living plants that grew around a prefab framework. People called us elves. Keebler Elves. Stephen Colbert specifically called me an elf.

But build a house out of meat, huh? Why do you think people would be more into that?

MJ : You tell me.

The design should be based on the materials. Form follows function. It would be absurd to make a meat house that looked like a Victorian.

If it’s grown around a framework that you’ve designed, why did you choose to make it look the way it does?

MJ : The design should be based on the materials. Form follows function. It would be absurd to make a meat house that looked like a Victorian.

But does something made of meat necessarily have to be biomorphic and blob-shaped?

MJ : Not necessarily. We can be creative. I’ve had some great conversations about hypothetical designs where, say, the windows would be made out of sphincter cells.Which we can’t do yet.

Does the house have a skeletal system?

MJ : No. No nervous system. No skeletal system. It’s built on a plastic framework.

So is keeping the house alive difficult?

MJ : Oh. The house is dead. There was no way that we could keep it alive outside the incubator.

How did you know that the house died? Was it warm, and then cold? Did it grow mold?

MJ : It was just this indefinable moment. We opened the incubator, and it was alive, and a few minutes later … we could just tell. And then it changed color.

Well, if it’s dead now, why does it still have that plastic feeding tube in it?

MJ: That’s flair. It’s like making a sketch and leaving the pencil marks.

So, while the house was alive, what did you feed it?

MJ: We fed it alluvial gel.

What’s alluvial gel?

MJ: You know, I think you should really talk to Oliver. Oliver Medvedik. He’s the scientist on the project.

* * * * *

So Mitchell told me to ask you, how did you keep the house alive? What did you feed it?

OLIVER  MEDVEDIK: We didn’t feed the house.

What do you mean? Wouldn’t the house need some kind of food supply while it was growing?

OM: It was never alive. We made it out of jerky. Or rather, we had our assistant make it out of jerky.

But Mitchell told us that you had a lab and an incubator and everything.

OM: Well, it’s a new lab, and the lab wasn’t finished then. And this science is expensive. So it can cost thousands of dollars just to grow a few inches.The real-world application for this right now is growing new organs, or parts of new organs, for people who need them.

And then there’s the fact that regenerative medicine is the only field that has perfected this, and they’re being coy about how they do it.

So, growing an actual meat house that people could live in … ?

OM: It would be completely impossible. It needs to be grown in a clean room environment, and we’re limited by the size of a HEPA filter — everything we build has to fit into an 18 by 18 space. And then it would need to be fed and watered. It would need to be shielded from the elements because it’s just simple pig cells — it doesn’t have any organs or immune system to plug into.

We knew that we couldn’t keep even a demo model alive after what happened to SymbioticA. They’re a group in Australia who grew a tiny leather jacket out of immortalized cell lines. They tried to keep it alive, but it died en route to an exhibition.

So do you ever think about eating the model?

OM : I wouldn’t eat it. There’s nothing bad in it, but just the thought of eating it makes me worry. It smells terrible. It smells like moist wood.

* * * * *

So Oliver tells me that the meat house is actually built out of jerky. Is this true?

MITCHELL JOACHIM : Well, yes. We just grew a small sample on a PET scaffolding out of an immortal cell line to prove that we could do it. Then we built the model out of jerky. It’s called a proof of concept.

What kind of jerky?

M J : That I don’t know.

And why not just grow the whole model?

M J : Because the model is about the size of a football. To grow the whole thing would cost about $85,000. Growing the sample cost us about $3,000. And that was just a few centimeters.

Well, I guess if I had $85,000, growing a meat house the size of a football might not be the first thing I would spend it on.

M J : [Silence]

Or, I don’t know. Maybe I would.

M J : The wristwatch. If we had $85,000, we’d probably grow that. Oliver’s really excited about it. Luminescent bacteria for the LED display. Immortal pig cells for the watch itself. You could just lift up this flap of skin and see what time it was. It might even grow into your wrist.

Sounds lovely. Thank you so much for your time.

M J : You’re welcome.

HEATHER SMITH is a Meatpaper editor.

This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten.

Kirlian Photography: An artist searches for meat auras

January 15, 2010

images and text by Nate Larson
This article originally appeared in 
Meatpaper Issue Ten.

THE KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS electrifies an object to produce a contact image on photographic film or paper. The photosensitized material records the multicolored emanations produced by the high voltage passing through the object. The Russian inventor Semyon Kirlian discovered and popularized the phenomenon in 1939, although it was the subject of earlier experiments by Nikola Tesla. The most famous Kirlian image is the glowing hand in the opening credits of the popular television show The X-Files. Musicians David Bowie and George Harrison have used the process in their album artwork.

Many fringe experimenters propose that the photographs give physical form to psychic energy and refer to them as auras or bio-fields. They believe that this process reveals the etheric body, an energy layer of the aura thought to permeate all living objects. The proponents point to the “phantom limb” phenomenon as evidence, in which the Kirlian photograph of a torn leaf reveals the whole leaf, a claim that I was unable to replicate. Believers will often use the image to make health care decisions, detect deceptions, or seek answers from the great beyond.

I built my Kirlian device in the summer of 2006, aided by the use of electrical diagrams and technical notes from the Internet. For the last several years I have been testing common processed and natural American foodstuffs, seeking insight into the food we choose to ingest. The selections from my research published here include olive loaf lunchmeat purchased at a big-box supermarket, chicken nuggets from a drive-through fast-food franchise, Spam processed meat from a tin, a strip of uncooked bacon, canned tuna, and the wishbone of a Thanksgiving turkey several days after the holiday. All images are presented as produced by the process without additional manipulation.


NATE LARSON is a Baltimore-based artist and a member of the faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art. His work with photographic media, artists’ books, and narrative video have been shown across the U.S. and internationally. See more at

This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten.

The New School of Haute Perfume A contemporary perfumer’s uncommon scents

January 15, 2010

story by Lucas Crawford and Carmen Ellison
illustration by Katherine Streeter
This article originally appeared in 
Meatpaper Issue Ten.

IN HIS SMALL BROOKLYN GALLERY, independent perfumer Christopher Brosius takes the production of scents neither lightly nor as a matter of elitist fashion. Lining his shop, CB I Hate Perfume, are hundreds of small opaque brown bottles adorned with handwritten labels from “Ocean — North Atlantic” to “Lipstick” and even “Baby Butt — Clean.” Brosius, who opened his Brooklyn store in 2004, began his work as a perfumer in the late 1980s at New York cosmetic company, Kiehl’s; after opening his first company in 1992, he became the first perfumer exhibited in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s Triennial. While Brosius’ current repertoire includes blended perfumes and home scents, the gallery’s fragrance collection is dominated by over 300 accords (scents comprising a series of fragrant notes that combine to create a harmonious whole), a number of which smell like food. On the savory side there are “Cucumber Roll,” “Tortilla Chip,” and “Pilau Rice,” while sweets include “Carrot Cake,” “Bananas Foster,” and “Viennese Pastry.” But only one accord comes with a warning: “Roast Beef.” “I confess that I have yet to find a way to make wearable perfume from Roast Beef,” cautions a small note affixed to the bottle.

A perfume that smells like meat and can’t be eaten seems counterintuitive. While we might enjoy a vanilla-scented bath or wash our hands with a lemony soap,the smell of meat is generally limited to the context of a meal. But Brosius’ unwearable “Roast Beef” suggests that we rethink how we understand our sense of smell. The perfumer reports in his online journal that the scent is not as unpopular as one might assume. People use it as a “modern-day smelling salt” — a way to pause and experience something sensual and unexpected. Perhaps more than any other scent in the unique space of his gallery, “Roast Beef” is an example of the act of smell providing an entryway to memory, place, and nostalgia as much as to a taste of fat and flesh. Brosius has captured roast beef with impressive complexity and nuance: The uncanny strength with which the scent hits the nose is not dissimilar to the feeling of arriving at your grandmother’s house to the smell of a perhaps slightly overdone roast. It is not just a simulation of how the beef itself smells, but an invocation of memory.

In this way, Brosius’ “Roast Beef” is less about cleverly mimicking the smell of the roast beef we could eat tomorrow and more about archiving the cultural history (not to mention individual memories) of the dish through smell — a medium seldom regarded as philosophical, historical, or artistic. By refusing to reduce food’s function to taste alone, Brosius reminds us that our own concepts of “roast beef” have always relied on aromatics. If this scent is indeed a “modern-day smelling salt,” the new state of awareness into which it rouses us is one in which the sense of smell will no longer be taken for granted, left to lie dormant, or be seen as secondary to sight and taste.

“I confess that I have yet to find a way to make wearable perfume from Roast Beef,” cautions a small note affixed to the bottle.

The boundaries between senses are not new ones, and neither is Brosius’ imperative to question them. All of our senses, philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty reminds us, are actually varieties of touch: light touching the eyes, food touching the tongue, and so on. We have defined them as discrete senses only by extracting them from the body as a single unit, by dividing and naming the kinds of experiences of which our bodies are capable. In doing so, we unfortunately come to associate certain smells with cosmetics (to go on our bodies) and other smells with foods (to go in our bodies). After we’ve memorized these habits through years and years of cultural experience, roast beef becomes disgusting as a perfume, and rose or lavender (for instance) taste far too fragrant to eat if we’ve spent our lives washing with their scents.

Beyond an evolutionary biology argument that humans are somehow hard-wired to avoid eating things that smell as if they might make us sick, there is nothing inherently better or worse about the smell of rotting meat versus the smell of, say, rotting cucumbers (and cucumber scent is prevalent in beauty products).

Writing in the collection Bathroom Unplugged: Architecture and Intimacy, critics Ilka and Andreas Ruby relate a short historical anecdote that underlines the randomness by which some matters are relegated to the outside of our bodies and some permitted inside. In the 18th century, a mixture of essential oils of citrus, rosemary, and lavender, when dissolved in high-proof alcohol and left to mature, was swallowed (with water or wine) to remedy heart palpitations, and inhaled through the nose to remedy headaches. Just as soon as the recipe landed in the hands of an eager-to-profit merchant, however, Napoleon made it unlawful (in 1810) to harbour any secret medicinal recipes. The owner of the recipe, one Wilhelm Mulhens, claimed his “miracle water” was actually a perfume — and since then, that is precisely how it has been used. Given the serendipitous political process by which this internal medical solution became an external cosmetic one, perhaps it should not seem so surprising for Brosius’ scent of roast beef to take its place alongside the taste.

Indeed, this valuation of smell might be more of a return than a drastic change. British chef Heston Blumenthal, famous for his “molecular gastronomy” cooking, which uses complex scientific techniques, notes that smell and taste are merely two sides of the same delicious coin: “We detect smells as we breathe in,” and “the odour of food, on the other hand, goes from the mouth to the nose as we breathe out.” This tenuous division between taste and smell, as fragile as half a breath, is changing — and there are more than a few people who advocate Brosius’ approach. In his three- Michelin-star restaurant, the Fat Duck, Blumenthal collaborates with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel (of New York’s International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.). A “lime grove” scent is sprayed alongside a green tea and lime mousse, and a “smoky whisky aroma” is swirled into the dry ice used to prepare a flaming sorbet. Laudamiel prophesies that soon many chefs will hire full-time perfumers, and that we will see the development of “salons, dining galleries, artistic restaurants” in which food no longer serves merely to alleviate hunger but is elevated to an art that addresses ideas, history, and everyday practice just as do other forms of art.

With deft attention to the phenomenon of smell, Brosius has created a space that has already gone further than Laudamiel’s prediction. Brosius has removed real food from the equation entirely. Setting the smell of meat into a milieu of art and beside so many other beautiful olfactory offerings, Brosius’ “Roast Beef” meat perfume is far from a precious gimmick. Without being eaten, food serves a critical function in his gallery: to render unfamiliar the cultural habits we have learned and to ask us to revalue smell in our dominantly visual culture. In other words: to undertake the hard work of forgetting our intuition and to follow our noses instead. 

We have come to associate certain smells with cosmetics (to go on our bodies) and other smells with foods (to go in our bodies).

LUCAS CRAWFORD is a Phd student in English and film studies at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada. His academic and poetic work can be found in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Other Voices, the Nashwaak Review, and the Journal of Gender Studies. He is just beginning a monograph about scent.

CARMEN ELLISON is a PhD student in English and film studies at the University of Alberta, where she is writing her dissertation on 19th-century poetry. She is co-writing a book with Lucas Crawford that puts eating practices in conversation with critical theories and histories of embodiment.

KATHERINE STREETER resides in downtown New York City. Her mixed media collages can be seen in many publications worldwide, and she is also involved with various projects for books and gallery walls. Not all of her creative adventures are meat related.

This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten.

Notes Toward a Definitive Treatise on the Role of Meat in Popular Music with Special Consideration of Rock ’n’ Roll

January 15, 2010

Preliminary comments, thoughts, and insights

text by Tony Michels
art direction and design by Pace Kaminsky
photo by Noe Dewitt
This article originally appeared in 
Meatpaper Issue Ten.

Click image above to view full photograph.

WHAT DOES MEAT TELL US  about popular music?
Professor Mendl Shochat-Fresser, the acclaimed Frankfurt School philosopher, raised this important question in his controversial 1928 lecture, “Tseshlogeneh Gedanken vegn Chazerei” (“Theses on Culture in Late Roman Antiquity”). “All forms of music,” he posited, “arise from brisket.” Shochat-Fresser’s colleagues ridiculed him, the most biting criticism leveled by Martin Heidegger, who insisted on the supremacy of soybeans —a notion implemented by Nazi Germany in 1935. At that point, discussion of meat and its relationship to music all but ceased in the Western world.

Yet meat has always fed music. Indeed, the history of American popular music, in its entirety, may be traced through beef, poultry, and pork.

The history of rock ’n’ roll bears out my claim. Scholars have yet to ascertain the precise number of
songs about meat recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s, but a safe estimate would run into the hundreds and perhaps thousands. Any complete repertoire needed at least one song about hot dogs, pulkes, fatback, or ribs. A crowning achievement of the early rock ’n’ roll era was the Starliters’ hit “Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes,” arguably the most eloquent paean to smoked meats ever performed. Pigmeat Markham and Sleepy LaBeef, who were among the earliest singers to adopt meat-themed monikers, further consolidated the alliance between meat and music.

Alas, meat, like all things, is cyclical. With the rise of the counterculture in the late 1960s, animal flesh temporarily lost its appeal. Mind-bending sounds were in; sausages and tube steaks were out. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” left no room for hamburgers to “sizzle on an open griddle, night and day,” as Chuck Berry would have preferred.

So much for the hippies, but when we turn our attention to black America, a different picture emerges. Pig snoots, fried chicken, smothered steak, ham hocks, rib tips, and anything doused in hot sauce inevitably found its way into blues, soul, and funk. King Curtis’ “Memphis Soul Stew” confirmed the fundamental truth of Shochat-Fresser’s 1928 dictum, “The funkier the music, the greasier the lyrics.”

In the late 1970s punk rose up against the rock establishment and reached back to the years before the Summer of Love to reclaim rock ’n’ roll. And with punk came a meat revival. Dead Boys may not have had actual food in mind when they composed their anthem, “Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth,” but the song signaled a profound change nonetheless.

Three decades later, meat’s musical lexicon has expanded in unexpected directions, as contemporary musicians find inspiration in lard, meat shakes, pork sodas, and the like.

By way of conclusion, I direct the reader’s attention to the menu above, reprinted here for the first time courtesy of Stanford’s Hoover Institution (Jay Lovestone Papers, box 140, folder 36). The menu, which was found, oddly, in the B & H Dairy Restaurant on New York’s Second Avenue, offers a rich selection of songs, albums, and bands having to do with meat or likenesses to meat. It substantiates all of my findings and contains important implications for understanding race, class, and culture in the United States.

TONY MICHELS  is the author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York (Harvard University Press), and he teaches history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His articles have appeared in Guilt & Pleasure, Forward, Nextbook, and the Yiddish cultural magazine Afn Shvel.

PACE KAMINSKY is an art director at HK Creative in New York, where he focuses on design and advertising campaigns for fashion, home design, and photography.

NOE DEWITT grew up in a family of photographer’s in Mariposa, California, where he spent a lot of time hiking in the trails of Yosemite National Park. Now based in New York, he shoots family, portraiture, travel, and advertising photographs for diverse publications.

This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten.

The Rabbitry and the Family: Bunnies may be the food of the future

January 15, 2010

interview by Marissa Guggiana
photos by Julio Duffoo
This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten

MYRIAM AND MARK PASTERNAK raise pigs, wine grapes, rabbits, and horses at their farm, Devil’s Gulch Ranch, in Northern California. Mark bought the steeply hilled ranch in 1971 with his earnings from working in a record store. Meatpaper homed in on their rabbitry. We first spoke with Myriam, who, as a veterinarian, manages the lives of the rabbits, and then to Mark, who handles their afterlives.

How did you begin raising rabbits?

MYRIAM: My mother is French and she grew up raising rabbits. Her mother and grandmother raised them in the backyard. When our kids were little, we raised them for 4H and for a little meat for the family, and it evolved from there. It went from around 3 to 10 to 1,700 rabbits.

How long do rabbits generally live?

MYRIAM: Their fullest biological potential is about 10 years, but in the wild, they last about one to two years because of predation and disease. They get eaten. My oldest is four years old.

How big are they?

MYRIAM: They get to be about 10–11 pounds, but the fryers that go to market are five to six pounds.

And the breeds?

MYRIAM: I use three meat breeds: Rex, Californian, and New Zealand. I had access to the breeds, so I used a variety to counteract inbreeding. In Europe, you can buy a barnful of rabbits, but here there just isn’t that kind of quantity.

We breed 30-35 rabbits every week and process about 100 per week. They breed like rabbits and they die like rabbits. The gestation period is 30 days, and they wean an average of 6-8 bunnies. There is a lot of management; they contract pasteurella (1) and staph infection quite easily, and stress can kill them.

You really have to work at it to stress out a pig. With a rabbit, you can look at it cross-eyed and it wants to die on you.

What are the daily duties of a rabbit farmer?

MYRIAM : We have an employee now that does the daily maintenance, but it’s mostly feeding and cleaning. The cages are designed so the feces falls through the cracks, but he makes sure that none of it builds up because the rabbits are susceptible to coccidian.(2) They will eat their feces and contract coccidian and then get diarrhea, which can kill them. He also makes sure they have water. On Saturdays, we take out the fryers that are ready.

What do they eat?

MYRIAM : An alfalfa-based pellet we helped to develop with a feed store. They eat that after they wean at six weeks. You have to keep an eye on them; some rabbits need a higher-protein diet.

Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they are more active at dawn than at dusk, so that is when they like to eat. They are also pseudo-ruminant. So they will eat the pellets and then they pass “night feces,” which they re-eat, and it is full of all the good enzymes and fermentation; then when they pass it a second time, it is the little round stuff we recognize as rabbit poop.

Have you noticed an increased interest in rabbits?

MYRIAM : Oh yeah, about once a month I get asked for breeding stock for someone that wants to start a backyard operation. They’re great to raise. We are teaching people in Haiti to raise them right now.

I was in the Peace Corps in the ’80s and fell in love with development work. I was in Niger from ’83 to ’85 during the We Are the World Tour and the terrible drought, and people were raising money for projects, but I realized if people can’t feed themselves, then nothing else matters. So now I work as a consultant for Makouti Agro Enterprises teaching farm management. It has been three years since we started a program with Partners of the Americas, and backyard production has increased 300%. In the beginning, families were raising them to sell, but now they are eating the rabbits at home too.

Animals are very important. People depend on them as tractors, as water bearers, as piggy banks, and as food.

What makes them so suited for sustenance and production farming in Haiti?

MYRIAM: They are very nutritious. They are higher in protein, lower in fat, and lower in calories than chickens.They are also high in zinc and lysine.

They initially don’t do well with heat and rain, but they can adapt. They raise rabbits in Texas. But they need to be kept cool; males can go sterile at temperatures above 85 degrees. You can use fans and misters or keep frozen water bottles in their cages. They cool themselves with their ears and throats.

Do you know of anyone raising rabbits commercially in pasture?

MYRIAM: I don’t know anyone who has been successful. You can cage-raise the young and then put them on grass, but you would have to move them every day because the coccidian stays on the soil and they will eat it. Also, rabbits will fight; they are very territorial. Young rabbits fight right before an earthquake.

They can sense earthquakes?

MYRIAM: They are very sensitive to weather. I don’t know if there are studies being done, but they are always very erratic before a large earthquake, anywhere in the world.

Does killing something so adorable ever bother you?

MYRIAM: I tried being vegetarian, but that didn’t work, so I decided to take responsibility for the meat I eat. I name my breeding stock and I picked different color breeds, so they are all distinct to me. People say you shouldn’t name animals you are going to kill, but I think they deserve a name. There is “the Bunny Factor,” but I don’t think just because something is cute it should be eliminated from my diet.

What are some of the rabbits’ names?

MYRIAM: Shazzam, Bindi, Opal, Freckles, Curry, California Smile, Canyon, Indiana, Bun Bun, Mr. T.

* * *

We then spoke to Mark Pasternak about the work of bringing rabbits into the food system.

MARK: Rabbits can be inspected by the USDA, but it is voluntary, so you don’t need a USDA stamp to cross state lines with them. They are considered poultry and they are required to be state-inspected for resale.

The most common way to kill them is cervical dislocation, which means twisting their neck. Or bonking the rabbit on the head, then slicing the neck. There’s also CO2, but I’m not convinced that’s more humane.

Rabbit blood has different grades, and sterile blood is worth more. Rabbits are used more for lab work than they are for meat. Rabbits raised for lab work can be bled off four or five times in their life. There are rabbitries with 1,000 does that are injected with a virus so they will produce the antibodies that can then be used.

Our rabbits are mostly sold wholesale and at the farmers’ markets.

You also raise pigs. How do rabbits compare?

MARK: Pigs are much better moneymakers, and rabbits are so fragile. You really have to work at it to stress out a pig. With a rabbit, you can look at it cross-eyed and it wants to die on you. They have a 20% mortality rate. Once you wean them, or even after three weeks, the mortality rate is not so bad. But there is a lot of maintenance. On top of that, the feed is really expensive. They do have pretty good feed conversion.

I know rabbits are in very high demand and short supply for restaurant chefs. You are responding to this by increasing your rabbitry significantly.

MARK: The reason we are expanding is not that the rabbits are particularly making us rich, but there is such a demand that I can knock on the kitchen door of any restaurant and say “I’m Devil’s Gulch and I sell rabbits,” and they will welcome me in. It would be hard to have the name recognition we have without the rabbits. Plus my wife raises really good rabbits.

How is rabbit usually prepared?

MARK: There are millions of rabbit recipes. I grill it a lot because it is easy. It is a very sweet meat with a reasonable texture and an elegant, subtle flavor, so it lends itself to any sort of sauce.

Do you eat rabbit every night?

MARK: No, I have restaurants that are screaming at me for them, so I can’t afford to. 


(1) Pasteurella is a bacterium known to cause morbidity and mortality in rabbits, and the predominant syndrome is upper respiratory disease. It can be endemic among rabbit colonies and is often transmitted through nasal secretions.

(2) Coccidian is a parasite that attacks animals’ intestinal tracts.

MARISSA GUGGIANA is the author of a love letter to America’s butchers called Primal Cuts.

JULIO DUFFOO was born in Peru, raised in Brooklyn, and is now based in San Francisco. He has photographed people who spend their lives engaged with meat for every issue of Meatpaper since Issue One.

This article originally appeared in Meatpaper Issue Ten


Issue 10 is on its way!

January 12, 2010

Inside: a multi-disciplinary, sensory extravaganza of topics, including meat perfume; meat aura photographs; meat in rock, punk, and soul music; meat as building material; and rabbit farming as a sustainable food of the future.

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