Screw Ethics, Good Barbecue Is More Important

Yesterday's Blues, Bandits & BBQ competition in Oak Cliff was a success on every score but flavor.

Organizers estimate more than 1,000 people turned out to celebrate tunes and barbecue at the grassroots festival, which may have been the first in the nation to require its pit teams to use sustainable, grass-fed meats. But at least one disenchanted judge says so-called "ethical" meat isn't suitable for smoking.

"After dozens of samples of BBQ made from sustainably raised, grass-fed beef and pork, I must make the broad generalization that it sucks," tweeted Daniel Vaughn, the respected Texas barbecue sleuth behind the Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog, a must-read for 'cue devotees statewide.

Asked to elaborate via e-mail, Vaughn assured me his fellow judges shared his opinion:

"(We) were unanimous in our meat fatigue as our judging wore on," says Vaughn, who's had his share of multiple barbecue shack days. "It wasn't from the amount of the meat or how it was prepared, but the quality of the raw product."

That's not a knock on the farms which provided the meat. It's an indictment of grass-feeding, which reliably produces lean, mean cows and pigs.

"The grass-fed beef and pork had so little fat that every bite was tougher and chewier than the last, and wasn't to the least bit enjoyable," Vaughn writes. "This form of sustainable meat just isn't conducive to good BBQ."

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