As far as media attention goes, Apr. 11, 2014, was a banner day for Greg Finch. As the lone supplier of antibiotic-free, pastured Vermont pork to the highly acclaimed 5-Knives, a specialized supplier of local pork, Finch was offered what amounted to subsidized advertising space in the Burlington Free Press. The paper's staff reporter, Sally Pollak - who told me she met Finch at a coffeehouse - served as stenographer for Finch, who delivered his talking points:
"To [raise pigs] without the modern crutches of medicine, it's management that makes you successful ... Doing things the right way all the time ... I take the best information I can find and adapt it to what I do."
"This time around, with local foods, the farmer is a big part of the market, which is the exciting part of it ... It's more of a collaboration. It's much better for the farmer, and more vibrant for the farm."
"I'm very, very careful about bio-security."
Experienced observers will recognize these remarks as boilerplate rhetoric, the kind that characterizes much of today's food writing. A year later, though, Finch finds himself mired in media muck rather than admiration.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture recently revealed that much of Finch's "Vermont" pork came from Pennsylvania pigs. Twice a month Finch headed south to an auction house in New Holland, purchased 50 or so conventionally raised pigs, and hauled them back to the Green Mountain State, where he had them processed into "local" bellies, hams, and other choice cuts.
It was a profitable move while it lasted.