On the beautiful Swiss Valley Farm (SVF), in front of a room full of local Newport foodies, farmers and chefs Patrick Martins boldly declared, “Local is a measurement of distance, not taste.”
Immediately the row of chefs in the back row nodded in agreement and the farmers sitting in the middle moved to the edge of their seats. Ever the instigator, Patrick went on to have a rousing conversation with the attendees about his book, The Carnivore’s Manifesto and the importance of preserving rare breeds of livestock.
Preserving rare breeds of livestock is at the very core of the SVF Foundation, who preserves germplasm (semen and embryos) from rare and endangered breeds. SVF freezes these rare genetics in tubes and stores them in liquid nitrogen. The collection will eventually be moved to the Smithsonian where the material will remain viable for at least 1,000 years. SVF has a network of farmers who bring their rare breeds to Newport, RI to spend a year enjoying the ocean air and contributing their genetic material to the foundation’s collection. By collecting 200 embryos and 3,000 straws of semen per breed, SVF is able to reawaken a breed with its full genetic diversity within one generation. SVF provides an important and necessary safety net to the mission Heritage Foods USA has been working towards for over the last 12 years, which is to preserve genetic diversity in our food system.
The talk at SVF was intensified by the learned audience who, already passionate about heritage breeds, was quickly asking the tough questions. “How do we determine which breeds are truly heritage? How can chefs best support small farmers when they are often working at different economies of scale? How can we develop a better processing infrastructure?” It was a powerful event and while there are no easy answers, it is only through these conversations and books like The Carnivore’s Manifesto that we can begin to address those issues.
A huge thank you to the SVF Foundation for hosting us and filling the room with passionate carnivores. Heritage Foods USA applauds the great work of SVF and their efforts to ensure the future for heritage breeds of livestock.