Sunday, October 17, 2010
Buoys and Gulls Come Out to Play (Monday, Oct. 11)
The photo shows a glimpse between charming houses across a beautiful marsh to the Smithfield processing plant which we could not visit. The clerk in the Smithfield ham shop in town told us that "they've had a lot of protests," although she wasn't quite ready to explain what the protests were about. :)
Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
"Smithfield Foods, Inc. is the world’s largest pork producer and processor. Its headquarters are in Smithfield, Virginia, with operations in 26 states and nine countries. The company raises 14 million pigs a year and processes 27 million. It produced 5.9 billion pounds of pork and 1.4 billion pounds of beef in 2006.
Smithfield started as Smithfield Packing Company, now its largest subsidiary, and grew by acquiring companies such as Farmland Foods, Eckrich, and Premium Standard Farms. Smithfield has sold its products under brand names such as Butterball, John Morrell, Gwaltney, Patrick Cudahy, Krakus Ham, Cook's Ham, and Stefano’s."
If you want to read more, including the controversy over Smithfield's millions of gallons of fecal matter stored in lagoons, you can read the article on Wikipedia.
After walking through the historic section of town, we took the beautiful elevated walkway into the marsh and onto a woodland pathway. We ended our time in Smithfield with a delicious lunch at a historic inn, especially enjoying the signature "She Crab Soup."
Then we drove out into the beautiful surrounding countryside to Darden's General Store, where they handcraft Virginia hams the old way. They do get their pork from the Smithfield plant which was less than desirable from our standpoint. But what happens next is truly a "hands on" process, and we were welcomed into the smokehouse for an up close and personal explanation. Rather than try to explain the process from memory, I'll give you a link to their web page which explains it concisely with photos to illustrate:
These are truly old-fashioned Virginia hams, and we can't wait till Christmas to try ours!
"Why Fly When You Can Ride?"
Sometimes when you're busy snapping pictures you don't always know how they're going to turn out. That's the beauty of digital photography. If they don't turn out, you just delete them; but the more you shoot, the better your chance of getting a great shot. When I looked through my photos on the computer later, I laughed out loud when I saw this one. Because of the way the light sparkles on the water and the way both gulls turned their heads, it looks exactly like they're gazing transfixed at the sparkling water! It's just one of those pictures that makes me happy to look at.