Organizers and participants said the Bloomington Eats Green conference at IU at the end January was a huge success. The tastiest event of the conference was definitely Hog Heaven, a buffet featuring a local pig prepared by local chefs. Jessica Gall has the story.
This pig met his end when 14 local chefs decided to every piece of him into gourmet grub. Dishes included pig head croquettes, pig head cheese, pig belly pastrami, bacon and maple syrup chocolates, but the buffet was about more than tasty food. It used pork to showcase sustainability and support for local food producers.
Christine Barbour teaches political science at IU and is the co-founder of Bloomington’s Slow Food movement. She’s a vegetarian, but fully supported Hog Heaven.
“And one of the things we want to get across with this pig -using all the parts of the pig concept – is that’s sustainable; we’re not wasting any parts of the pig,” she says.
“It honors the environment, and it honors the pig to use all the parts of the animal, and to not let any parts of it go to waste, and I think that’s a valuable sustainability lesson.”
Richard Wilk, director of IU’s food studies program, believes pork was a perfect choice to showcase local food.
“As long as there have been white settlers coming from the east in Indiana, there’s been pigs, so people and pigs go a long way back here,” says Wilk.
Anne Pyburn came to Hog Heaven not just to eat, but to eat local.
“Everybody’s realizing that local farms, local growth, local production of food – it’s better food, it’s healthier food, and it’s ecologically sound to eat stuff that’s grown where you live,” says Pybrun.
Simon Lee’s wife told him about the event, and he couldn’t pass on the chance to eat lots of his favorite meat.
“It’s been fantastic, everything’s been really really good,” Lee says.
He tried four different dishes, but liked the smoked pork sausage the best.
The chefs at the event are also big fans of pork.
Jeff Finch owns and cooks at Finch’s Brasserie in Bloomington, and loves cooking with pork. “I think pork is really versatile, really useful, fairly inexpensive and really abundant in Indiana,” he says. “There’s a lot of producers, local producers of pork, so this is a good opportunity to try to use a local fresh product.”
Chef Dave Tallent of Restaurant Tallent in Bloomington wears his love of pork on his sleeve in the form of a pig tattoo.
“It’s just, it’s good,” Tallent says. “The versatility of it, just everything about it. Bacon is one of the most perfect foods ever.”
More than 130 people attended Hog Heaven at the Indiana Memorial Union, even though it was raining that day and an Indianapolis Colts playoff game was competing for the attention of locals.
For more information on the local slow food movement, visit: http://www.slowfoodbloomington.org/