Monday, June 16, 2014

Mobile slaughterhouse helps local ag heritage

In January, a small herd of cattle dallied in the grass off Upper Ranchitos Road as a white semi slowly pulled into the field. An hour later, two sides of beef hung from a meat hook inside the truck. A month later, the meat was in a stew at a local restaurant. From pasture to platter, this cow was never more than 5 miles from the center of town. That kind of close-to-home food system is only possible thanks to the Mobile Matanza — a slaughterhouse on wheels run by the Taos County Economic Development Corp. Better known as TCEDC, the Corp. operates in relative obscurity from a nondescript campus on the southside of town. But for nearly 30 years, the Taos nonprofit has found inventive ways to sustain the traditions of Taos’ land-based cultures by adapting them to modern regulations, as wells as the mounting pressures of growth and development. The Mobile Matanza may be the flagship of TCEDC’s operation. Started in 2006, the Matanza makes it simpler and more affordable for small-scale ranchers to slaughter livestock. Rather than paying to have animals hauled to a slaughterhouse hundreds of miles away, killed and processed, then shipped back, the Matanza comes to the ranch and does everything on site. ”It’s so peaceful for the livestock. It’s so low stress. Look how relaxed they are,” said Mark Schuetz in January while watching Matanza employees Gilbert Suazo Jr. and Juanice Romero butcher one of his steers with Taos Mountain looming in the background. The whole slaughter was quick and simple. Suazo Jr. used a rifle to shoot the cow through the head, killing it instantly. Schuetz used his tractor to carry the animal about 100 feet to the back door of the Mobile Matanza. Then Suazo Jr. and Romero got to work. Everything they need to butcher the animal is in the back of the truck. Once finished, the meat goes back to TCEDC’s headquarters to hang. Schuetz might save some time and money using the Matanza, but he also points out it keeps him and other TaoseƱos in business. ”Gilbert’s my neighbor. So is Juana, They’re jobs are related to mine,” Schuetz said. “So we’re all helping each other out.”...more

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