A year and a half ago, Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader embarked on a project. The Whole Hog Project would follow three mulefoot pigs (Edna, Erma, and Endive) from birth (on a Wisconsin farm) to death (at a slaughterhouse) to an afterlife (at Chicago's Blackbird restaurant). The hairy oinkers, known for having uncloven hooves like mules, would be spotlighted in a fancy six-course dinner.
"I've never seen my food walking around before," his friend and and videographer throughout the project, Mike Gebert of Sky Full of Bacon, admitted. Why were they putting themselves through this? Mulefoot pigs are an endangered American breed that, two years ago, only had 200 to their name. While eating an endangered animal seems like a bad idea, farmer Linda Derrickson debunked this theory: “If you treat them like a zoo animal they’ll become zoo animals." To foster the animal's genetic vitality, you actually should eat them.
In an era of blogging and meta-blogging—when old-fashioned reporting can fall by the wayside—it was touching to stop and watch Sula's story unfold, in both words and Gebert's videos. Watch both parts of the Whole Hog Project, after the jump.