Jul 18 - 24, 2013 
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Food News

Bite Sized Edition

The Alibi’s monthly news buffet

By Nora Hickey

Hold your horses

Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M. has become the first U.S. company to receive rights to slaughter horses for food purposes. The FDA granted Valley Meat the slaughter rights on June 28, despite a statement from New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King that horse meat manufactured in New Mexico would be an “adulterated” food product unfit for human consumption due to the high usage of anti-inflamatory drug Phenylbutazone (PBZ) in many U.S. horses.

This formal opinion has no legal authority, and has not prevented Valley Meat from obtaining USDA permission to convert its one-time cattle slaughterhouse. However, New Mexico may not see horse slaughter on its land for quite some time, as Obama’s fiscal budget for 2014 eliminates funding for horse meat inspection, a legally required component for a horse slaughterhouse. After a one-year wait, and a lawsuit against the USDA for delaying a decision, Valley Meat may have to stay behind the starting gate awhile longer.

Forecast calls for mixed blessings

On July 3rd, the USDA declared Taos and Rio Arriba counties as natural disaster areas due to extreme drought. Fourteen counties in Colorado were deemed “primary” disaster areas with contiguous counties identified as needing assistance, including those in New Mexico. This designation allows for farmers to apply for low interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Further south, the recent rainfall has been both a blessing and a curse. With the precipitation also comes ash from the Silver Fire in the Gila National Forest, which can clog the drip irrigation systems that farmers often use during drought. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has been trying to distribute the temporary surplus to needy properties while water lasts. Despite the rain, both the Rio Grande and the Elephant Butte Reservoir—both major suppliers to area farms—are nearing record lows. For now, all we can do is hope and wait.

Growing pains for food trucks

In Albuquerque, food trucks are becoming a common sight. If it’s lunchtime, there’s likely to be a pod somewhere in the city, and in the evenings you can usually enjoy a pint at a local brewery alongside food truck fare. Chef operators have worked hard to create a presence in the local cuisine scene and have been welcomed with open arms and mouths by many Burqueños. However, the city’s Parking Enforcement Division has created problems for some area food trucks, issuing citations under ordinance 8-5-1-13 which states that no vehicle 90 inches or wider may be parked on a public street unless loading or unloading. One mobile restaurant, The Boiler Monkey, feels as if they have been targeted. Within the past eight months of business, they have received seven tickets for this violation.

Matthew Fuemmeler, an owner of The Boiler Monkey, sees the issue as part of a bigger problem in the ABQ food truck world. Unlike other cities with an established food truck community, the ABQ city government hasn’t yet worked with food truck owners to establish regulations that would support the local micro-businesses. Fuemmeler and other truck owners have approached some city council members about creating “food truck safe areas” around town. He says the council members “seem receptive to the issue,” and he hopes to present their community-positive vision to all ABQ city council members at a future meeting. A representative from the Parking Division was contacted but has not responded as of press time.

 
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