In a quick conversation with BB Ranch butcher William von Schneidau recently, he said to me, “Oh, and, by the way, we are feeding our pigs marijuana now. We’re calling them pot pigs.”
At first I didn’t think I heard him right. Then I thought he might be joking. But he wasn’t. The Pike Place Market butcher shop is most definitely adding “weed to the feed,” as Schneidau says in this getting-funky-with-it video about his recent Pot Pig Gig dinner.
Seattle got its first taste of marijuana-fed pigs at this event in March, when BB Ranch served a head-to-tail menu of swine fed on stems, leaves, and root bulbs from Top Shelf Organic, a medical marijuana co-op.
So it’s not like the pigs were smoking a hookah or grazing on buds. All farms have excess, even the marijuana-growing kind, and with the new legality of the drug, it made sense to him to try and help out by finding a use for those cast-off bits of plant. It sounds like an idea conceived by someone holding a bong in a hazy basement, but hey, sustainability comes in all forms.
Mixing the fresh herby greens to the regular pig slop adds fiber to the pigs' diet and reportedly gave the meat a more savory bite. Von Schneidau hopes to do a blind taste test soon to compare pot-fed pork's flavor with the traditional variety. He currently has a pot prosciutto curing at BB Ranch, if you're curious for a taste.
The butcher teamed up with Bucking Boar Farms of Snohomish for this adventure, though weed isn't the first controlled substance that's been added into the pigs' everyday slop. The farm has also been feeding pigs spent vodka grains from Project V Distillery of Woodinville, producing what von Schneidau terms "vodka pigs."
But do the pigs get stoned? Apparently, not all mammals can process THC, but most have cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids are the other chemicals in marijuana, often linked to the medicinal properties, which help with pain and discomfort. Pigs have these receptors, and the four that ate this enhanced feed gained more weight and likely felt way more mellow than their non-ganja-feeding friends.
Matt McAlman of Top Shelf, the marijuana co-op, says the stems and leaves added to the feed have a higher cannabinoid content than the flower of the plant, so these little piggies are probably pretty darn happy.
According to von Schneidau, halfway through the first Pot Pig Gig, a woman stood and asked if the diners could take an “intermission.” He was perplexed, but agreed. She asked the communal table full of strangers, “Who's got a pipe?” About 75 percent of the group headed out to Post Alley and in von Schneidau’s words, “Got baked.” I'm willing to bet that the second half of the meal was a lot more entertaining than the first.
Another Pot Pig Gig is in the works for this summer. Look for updates at the BB Ranch Facebook page.