An upcoming barbecue contest in Oak Cliff may be among the first nationwide to demand its entrants use sustainable, grass-fed meat.
Teams participating in the September 11-12 competition will receive beef brisket, pork ribs, whole chicken or homemade sausage suitable for smoking from Urban Acres, a co-op that partners with local farmers to provide members with organic produce, milk and meat.
The executive director of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which annually sanctions more than 300 prestigious cook-offs, says she's never heard of a competition devoted to so-called "ethical meat."
"It's an interesting twist," Carolyn Wells says.
Wells wasn't sure whether pit masters would have to adjust their techniques to accommodate the grass-fed meat, which is typically leaner than meat from animals raised on grain.
"I'm sure the grass-fed people will tell you it tastes better," she ventured.
KCBS allows its competitors to use any kind of meat they like, so long as they store it properly. But Wells says serious pit masters keep tabs on meat trends, which perhaps accounts for the recent surge in Kobe and Waygu briskets at barbecue contests.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"They'll do anything they think will give them an edge," Wells says.
Wells says she wouldn't be surprised if competitors soon add artisanal, grass-fed meats to their arsenal of one-upmanship tricks.
"I think it's a distinct possibility," she says.
The team registration fee for "Blues, Bandits and BBQ" is $100 for the first category, and $25 for each additional category: Entry forms are at gooakcliff.org. Registration closes Monday.