Thursday, March 26, 2009

St. Louis Editorial Photography: Green Cuisine

When I do editorial photography and commercial photography, there's always some lag between when photos are delivered and when I'm able to share them with the rest of the world. I never want to scoop the publication that I'm shooting for, after all. While days go by, the wait to share the photos can be grueling, especially when I love what I've ended up with and had a fantastic time shooting.

Now that this particular article has been published, I'm thrilled to finally be able to share some photos and the associated story, Green Cuisine: Earth-friendly, healthy recipes from top chefs and local farmers, from the Union of Concerned Scientists. I loved this assignment!

Now, on to introductions.

This is a pig:

While it may appear like any other pig you've seen, it is different. It and its peers live together in deep straw, have the freedom to wander into a pasture when they choose, and are hormone- and antibiotic-free. They are raised by their mothers in an environment without the pressures of modern industrial agricultural practices.

This is Russ:

Russ is a hog farmer who switched to drug-free farming after nearly dying from an antibiotic-resistant infection. He went on to found the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative to produce premium meat "raised in humane and environmentally friendly conditions without the use of unnecessary additives."

This is Andy:

Andy is a fixture in the St. Louis culinary scene. As the former owner of Riddle's Penultimate Cafe and Wine Bar and current owner of Eat Here St. Louis, Andy has been a longtime proponent of eating locally-sourced products.

This is KT:

KT took the reins at Riddle's from her father after years of working in the kitchen. As the current owner-operator, KT continues to source fresh, local ingredients as she constantly experiments in the kitchen with seasonal produce and locally-sourced meat. Chefs like KT help drive local, sustainable farming.

With the introductions complete, I have to share that I was (and still am) completely blown away by the care and love that Russ has for his pigs. Even though these pigs are bred to become food (such as Riddles’ Pork Tenderloin Stroganoff, photo at the end of this post), Russ treats them respectfully and with dignity. His pigs live better than many household pets and happily interact with Russ and visitors to the farm as if they were family.

The partnership between Russ, Andy, and KT forms a circle of healthy and sustainable farming -- fueled by consumers making conscious decisions about where and what they eat.

Here are some more photos from our day on the farm and then back at Riddle's -- and again, please read the UCS article to get the whole story of Russ, Andy, and KT (with more, different photos!):


  1. These are great shots, Jonathan! It's easy to see why you were so excited to post them. I especially love that first one.

  2. Aww piggies!! Not sure how I feel after seeing them with their little happy piggy faces to the end result... hmmm Great pictures!!! :o)

  3. I'd much rather see these creatures leading happy lives of luxury cared for by their custodian than to see them industrially farmed -- or worse. I feel that when we ignore the fact that we breed these animals to become food, we're collectively less likely to care about their well-being while they're alive. The whole shift from an agrarian society to an industrialized one seems to have cost many of us that connection, and only now are we seeing the long-term problems that result from mass-produced meat. I'd love to have some well-read experts chime in here.

  4. As a former chef and someone who grew up milking Holsteins, some of which followed us around like puppies, seeing this brings a tear of joy. I'm just glad to know that these practices are taking hold more and more. Showing respect and giving dignity to the creatures that return so much back to us both in life, when allowed to and as in this case, and in death, can only benefit us all long term.

    Bravo to you all, and the shots are certainly beautiful and well done.