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Slaughterhouse Down But Not Out In Wisconsin vs. Meat Fight

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Nov 12, 2014 10:30PM

Black Earth Meats (via Facebook)

Michael Gebert recently wrote a two-part series for the Reader called "Wisconsin vs. Meat," highlighting two meat-related businesses that have struggled due to governmental issues. Part one focuses on Bolzano Artisan Meats, known for their European-style charcuterie, which inadvertently stepped into a territorial dispute between regulators and ended up in a bureaucratic nightmare. The second is about Black Earth Meats, a small slaughterhouse that was shut down by Black Earth village due to a dispute with neighbors, who didn't like having a business like that in their backyard.

The fact these businesses are no longer operating has effects on the foodshed that trickle down into Illinois, as many stores and restaurants sold Bolzano meats and meat processed at Black Earth. Black Earth was one of the few USDA-inspected slaughterhouses in that area of Wisconsin and USDA inspection is required in order to sell in Illinois. The closure has left many farmers unable to sell in Illinois or forced to endure long drives and waiting lists for other USDA slaughterhouses. Black Earth has created a Kickstarter campaign to try to re-open the business elsewhere.

Chicago has its own dumb food regulation issues, but at least we can be proud to still host even the less photogenic of the businesses that help put food on our tables. Even if it means you have to navigate through giant trucks, stepping over rivulets of blood, as you walk through the West Loop. Food isn't always a pretty thing.