by Gregor Sieböck
It wasn't exactly easy for me to commit to this visit to the butchery Feiertag. At the age of 18, I decided to become a vegetarian because I realised then that the meat production and factory farming had a significant influence on the ecological imbalance in this world. This step consequently also had a significant influence on my life because I started acting differently, I became more sensitive and open to a certain spiritual development. But I still had doubts. I kept eating milk products, even if from organic farming, but dairy farming is still very closely linked to meat production. Was I kidding myself? I realised that the correlations were much more complex than I'd thought at first.
When I travelled to Argentina last year, I ended up ordering a large steak for myself in Buenos Aires - the first one in 17 years! It tasted wonderful and I realised that it also felt inherently consistent to me because I knew that the cow had spent her entire life in the expansive Argentinian pampa, in freedom. Since then I still eat mostly vegetarian but I have concerned myself intensely with my dogmas and worldviews and have stopped trying to convince other people of how they should live their lives.
Roman and his father Peter Feiertag run a small butchery in Weiz in Styria. Together with seven employees they process regional and organic meat specialties and sell the products directly in their shops on site and in the state capital Graz. Peter Feiertag started to process meat from organically bred animals as early as 1997, because he wanted to know where the meat he processed came from. Species-appropriate husbandry and species-appropriate transport are an important personal matter to him. This is why the meat comes entirely from the local region. Regional and organic are not just two central criteria for being able to offer good quality, they also go well with the non-industrial work methods of the business: nothing here is processed automatically or mechanically, and most working steps are, as per tradition, still done manually by the butchers. And do they enjoy their work? It was downright inspiring to watch them...
By now, the consumers are very grateful for the good quality of the butchery Feiertag. With each meat scandal, the awareness of the population regarding the importance of knowing where the meat comes from grows. The consumers who purchase meat from Feiertag are prepared to pay more for their groceries and end up eating less meat because of it, maybe once during the week and then again on the weekend. In return, however, they want to enjoy the top quality of their products - and that is what Feiertag offers. Thus he produces more than 40 different sausage products, schnitzel, beef and pork loaf (Leberkäse), meat and also bacon. For the bacon - which is also contained in the Zotter chocolate Bacon Sensation - meat from old European pig breeds such as Mangalitza and Turopolje pigs is being processed: Each year, that means between 50 and 60 pigs from the savouring Schilcherland region, but also from the nearby southern Burgenland. The bacon is cured at 20 degrees Celsius and hung up to mature for ten months. Bacon develops its nutty aromas only after being stored for six to eight months. Thus Zotter uses bacon of a very high quality for their chocolates. After all, Feiertag and Zotter have been working together for years. The greaves for the greaves chocolate also comes from this butchery and Feiertag frequently delivers organic meat and sausages for Zotter's factory canteen in Bergl.
Weiz, home to the butchery Feiertag, is exciting. I walked from the farm through the town and discovered a large organic shop, a world shop and also a market, where all fruit and vegetables stalls offered organic food. I strolled past a billboard announcing an organic festival and felt that this place seemed to have an open mind with regards to an ecological lifestyle. Weiz is different... and I decided once again to act differently than I had in the past: in the butchery Feiertag, I bought myself a wholemeal bacon sandwich as a farewell - the first in 18 years - and it tasted delicious! Thank you, Peter and Roman!