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DIET: Don't laugh, but rabbits are scarce; producers can't ship bunny meat fast enough
West Virginia Gazette ^ | August 7, 2005 | J.M. HIRSCH

Posted on 08/07/2005 5:57:53 PM PDT by BulletBobCo

WEST HAVEN, Vt. (AP) -- Talk about culinary irony -- rabbit meat is in short supply.

Despite the critters' proclivity to reproduce, demand for rabbit meat has surged in recent years and breeders are struggling to supply the many trendy restaurants adding it to their menus.

"We could easily be doing 1,000 a week. The demand is there,'' says Langis Anctil, whose Champlain Valley Rabbitry farm in West Haven, Vt., is working full tilt to raise that many bunnies a month.

Of course, it's not that rabbits don't reproduce fast enough -- it's just an 11-week cycle from birth to broiler. The problem is that there aren't enough producers.

It's just a $10 million industry -- stitched mostly from a patchwork of small farms and hobbyists -- so small the government barely tracks it.

For restaurants such as Minibar, a posh tapas-style eatery in Los Angeles that offered a popular rabbit sausage since opening nearly two years ago, this has meant serious supply problems.

"We would find a purveyor with the product at the right price, but then they'd run out and we'd find another and then they would run out, and that's what it's been like for about eight months,'' says owner Ravel Centeno-Rodrigues.

"Finally, we took it off the menu.''

The number of producers has been in a steady decline since rabbit's heyday about 60 years ago. That's when a wartime meat shortage led the federal government to urge people to switch to rabbit, making it a common offering in grocers' meat cases. But as the supply of red meat and chicken improved, rabbit fell from favor.

Rabbit meat industry insiders blame its decline for so many years on an undeserved bad rap. Though farm-raised rabbit tastes like -- surprise! -- tender chicken, it has a reputation as a tough and gamey meat (likely because wild rabbit generally is).

The Easter Bunny syndrome -- a reluctance by many Americans to eat animals that are cute and fuzzy -- hasn't helped, either, according to Pat Lamar, president of the Professional Rabbit Meat Association.

But it seems the bad reputation is fading and fuzzy is becoming fabulous. Today, rabbit is in restaurants from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine.

In 2004, the United States imported more than 1 million pounds of rabbit meat -- mostly from China -- a near doubling from the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Much of that is ending up in specialty shops and restaurants, which have begun serving rabbit in everything from North African tagines and mixed grill to smoked sausages and salads.

"Rabbit probably at one point was more risque than offal (innards),'' says Shea Gallante, chef at Cru, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant in New York that offers rabbit sausage with gnocchi.

"Nowadays it's so common people think, 'Do I have the rabbit appetizer or do I have the calf's heart?'''

Kate Krader, a senior editor at Food & Wine magazine, sees rabbit on menus everywhere and attributes the renewed interest to the growth in bistro-style restaurants, which focus on rustic fare, including wild game.

What's impressive about the growth is that unlike beef and pork, there is no marketing effort behind it, she said.

Part of the appeal is health. Rabbit is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein. Americans also are traveling more widely and encountering rabbit on European menus, especially in France and Italy. And American chefs are ever on the watch for new tastes and textures.

As rabbit becomes more common in U.S. restaurants, Krader thinks it's likely to show up in more grocers, many of which already offer such exotics as ostrich and buffalo meat.

Rabbit now is common in specialty food shops in large cities, and is creeping into mainstream grocers. Publix supermarkets offers rabbit at 250 of its 800 stores in the Southeast.

The meat has not fared as well in the grocers in the Northeast, however, where poor sales recently prompted Hannaford Bros. Co. to pull it from the shelves of its 146 stores after five months.

Such setbacks haven't slowed the industry much. At Pel-Freez, the nation's largest rabbit meat processor, work once slowed to part time much of the year. Now it is all the Rogers, Ark., company can do to keep pace.

The hodgepodge nature of the industry complicates that. Because so many rabbit breeders are small-time farmers who go in and out of the business, companies such as Pel-Freez must constantly look for new suppliers.

It also isn't easy on the breeding end. Rabbits can have high mortality rates and a dearth of processors means many breeders must rely on so-called bunny runners to transport the animals to slaughter, sometimes many states away.

Anctil gets around that by processing his own rabbits -- snapping their necks, skinning and gutting them. Despite a steady stream of chefs and culinary students visiting his remote farm, he seems surprised by his success.

He only regrets that he can't keep the rabbits on his farm a bit longer, fattening them up a bit more. He slaughters them when they reach 23/4 or 3 pounds. The market just won't wait longer.

"They move so fast we don't have time to get them bigger,'' he says.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: eatyourownbunny; killthewabbit; littlerabbitfoofoo; tasteslikechicken
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I haven't had rabbit since I was in survival school. I'd love to find a place that sells rabbit meat. It is really good.
1 posted on 08/07/2005 5:57:53 PM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: carlo3b

ping


2 posted on 08/07/2005 5:58:23 PM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: BulletBobCo

When I was younger we had rabbits, and had rabbit on many ocassions, it's really good if it's cooked right.


3 posted on 08/07/2005 5:59:51 PM PDT by Panerai
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To: BulletBobCo

I remember looking at rabbit in the frozen food section when In Africa..........The paws were left on so that you could be SURE it was rabbit.


4 posted on 08/07/2005 6:03:09 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple (Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: BulletBobCo

Rabbit looks and tastes like chicken except it's usually more tender and the bones look all wrong.


5 posted on 08/07/2005 6:03:29 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: PeterPrinciple
The paws were left on so that you could be SURE it was rabbit.

What else might it have been?

6 posted on 08/07/2005 6:04:28 PM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: BulletBobCo

Where I live and have lived, if you want rabbit, you just step outside and shoot one. Though I have seen them in the frozen section at the supermarket lately.


7 posted on 08/07/2005 6:04:53 PM PDT by kenth
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To: BulletBobCo

Rabbit Season!

8 posted on 08/07/2005 6:04:57 PM PDT by WSGilcrest (Tinky likes it!)
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To: Panerai
We raised rabbits too. They were a cheap source of meat.

Mom made a bunny sausage to die for.

9 posted on 08/07/2005 6:05:08 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (When I walk into Sanctuary the band plays "Sweet Home Alabama")
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To: BulletBobCo
Of course, it's not that rabbits don't reproduce fast enough -- it's just an 11-week cycle from birth to broiler. The problem is that there aren't enough producers.

Well, maybe if a producer or two saved up a bit and put off selling their stock for a few months....

10 posted on 08/07/2005 6:05:59 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: BulletBobCo

I hunt wild rabbit a good bit, and it tastes fantastic if cooked right.


11 posted on 08/07/2005 6:06:43 PM PDT by somniferum
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To: BulletBobCo

"What else might it have been?"

Your cat!

I had distant relatives in Norway that durring WW2 when the Germans demanded their rabbit would skin a cat and give it to them. They kept the rabbits for themselves.


12 posted on 08/07/2005 6:08:21 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: BulletBobCo

bookmark for later printing


13 posted on 08/07/2005 6:09:55 PM PDT by ksyankee
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To: dalereed
What's for breakfast!


14 posted on 08/07/2005 6:10:13 PM PDT by CJ Wolf
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To: BulletBobCo

Rabbits are mean and nasty things. I say kill em' and eat em'!


15 posted on 08/07/2005 6:10:24 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan (I'm sick and tired of being sicked and tired!)
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To: dalereed

You can tell the difference between Cat and Rabbit right away, Cat meat is mushy when cooked, Rabbit meat firms up when cooked.

TT


16 posted on 08/07/2005 6:11:44 PM PDT by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
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To: CJ Wolf

ROTFL...

Bunny in a blanket


17 posted on 08/07/2005 6:11:56 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan (I'm sick and tired of being sicked and tired!)
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To: BulletBobCo

We had a kindly elderly Italian neighbor, when I was young, that would treat us to rabbit cacciatore every so often. Just wonderful but I haven't had the dish in over 45 years.


18 posted on 08/07/2005 6:12:06 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: BulletBobCo
rabbit meat is in short supply.

Get yer shootin' iron and make yerself a blind in my backyard. I got too many of them varmints chowing down on the shrubbery.

19 posted on 08/07/2005 6:12:13 PM PDT by Alouette ("Peace and justice" = Leftspeak for terrorism and ethnic cleansing.)
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: BulletBobCo
What else might it have been?

Dogs, cats or any other miscellaneous animal they could find!

21 posted on 08/07/2005 6:15:40 PM PDT by calex59 (If you have to take me apart to get me there, then I don't want to go!)
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To: BulletBobCo; All
Rabbit meat has hardly any cholesterol or fat content. It is one of the few meats that will not hurt you. Also the ratio of rabbit meat per pound compared to the food they consume is much higher than cattle. The main problem is the processing of the meat which is labor intensive.

However, I plan to start raising the little bunnies next year and expand locally. Do a little research on it, you might be surprised what you find.
22 posted on 08/07/2005 6:15:51 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (WHEN JANE FONDA STARTS HER TOUR, LET ME KNOW WHERE SHE IS)
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To: BulletBobCo

Can't find rabbit in stores? I eat rabbit all the time. My store is the forest.


23 posted on 08/07/2005 6:16:07 PM PDT by trubluolyguy (I got an idea, and idea so devious my head would explode if I even began to know what it was.)
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To: BulletBobCo
the federal government to urge people to switch to rabbit, making it a common offering in grocers' meat cases. But as the supply of red meat and chicken improved, rabbit fell from favor.

It disappeared from the menu of the only restaurant where we could order it. Our butcher neighbor can't get it, despite many attempts.

I can buy plenty of live rabbits, BUT nearly every seller requires a signed statement that it is for a PET only, and be neither bred nor eaten...even if it is Californian, New Zealand White, or other meat breed.

Pet shops & PETA types have turned rabbits from meat & fur critters to cuddly pets. I've seen some of them in action some decades (and several moves) back at a then-friend's rabbit farm.

24 posted on 08/07/2005 6:16:34 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Marching Morons are coming...and they're breeding more Democrats beyond all reason!)
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To: ElkGroveDan
Moved to Mars.

"To heck with y'all!   You'll never get me here!!"


25 posted on 08/07/2005 6:18:19 PM PDT by Prime Choice (Thanks to the Leftists, yesterday's deviants are today's "alternate lifestyles.")
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To: ElkGroveDan

Bunnies are yummy!

Especially if you eat it in front of a PETA whackazoid... mmmmMMM!!

Seriously, wabbits have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. That was the dinner I would get on my birthday.


26 posted on 08/07/2005 6:18:47 PM PDT by VictoryGal (Never give up, never surrender!)
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To: BulletBobCo
Not all rabbits are eatable, however their IQ's are about the same regardless of breed.
27 posted on 08/07/2005 6:18:55 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (WHEN JANE FONDA STARTS HER TOUR, LET ME KNOW WHERE SHE IS)
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To: ApplegateRanch
Pet shops & PETA types have turned rabbits from meat & fur critters to cuddly pets.

Tsk. They probably did the same with cats and dogs, too.

28 posted on 08/07/2005 6:19:15 PM PDT by Prime Choice (Thanks to the Leftists, yesterday's deviants are today's "alternate lifestyles.")
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To: trubluolyguy
We use to have loads of rabbits all around our township.

About a year ago red tail hawks started showing up. During rabbit season last fall by brother who usually bags the limit, only saw about a half dozen and got 3 of them.

29 posted on 08/07/2005 6:19:43 PM PDT by mware (Now we know why the NYT didn't have time to cover AIR AMERIKA)
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To: BulletBobCo

They aren't scarce enough in my backyard. Mrs H-T has forbidden Jr. & I from further eradication efforts with the Crossman.


30 posted on 08/07/2005 6:20:10 PM PDT by Hat-Trick (Do you trust a government that cannot trust you with guns?)
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To: BulletBobCo

I'm ready to start harvesting the things from my front yard, they're so plentiful.


31 posted on 08/07/2005 6:21:10 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (It's my birthday, I'll Freep if I want to.)
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To: WSGilcrest

32 posted on 08/07/2005 6:21:29 PM PDT by kstewskis ("I don't know what I know, but I know that it's big".....Jerry Fletcher)
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To: BulletBobCo

My daddy used to say:
Never name an animal you are planning to eat!!


33 posted on 08/07/2005 6:22:20 PM PDT by WKB (A closed mind is a good thing to lose.)
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To: BulletBobCo



Rabbit is deliciouse. Probably, one of my favorite meats. That and duck.


34 posted on 08/07/2005 6:23:15 PM PDT by LauraleeBraswell
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To: Dog Gone
I like to eat bunnies, too.

Nice & tasty...

35 posted on 08/07/2005 6:26:54 PM PDT by Prime Choice (Thanks to the Leftists, yesterday's deviants are today's "alternate lifestyles.")
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To: Alouette
Get yer shootin' iron and make yerself a blind in my backyard. I got too many of them varmints chowing down on the shrubbery.

Do they look like this?

36 posted on 08/07/2005 6:26:54 PM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: Prime Choice

First it was cats & dogs.

Then baby duckies.

Then rabbits.

Little Lambies will be next.

They start with the 'cute' ones.

Slowly, they will incrementalize us to meatlessness, at which time we'll all be calling our local steak-legger.

And don't forget Arnold Ziffle, and 'pot bellied pigs'.

If they can't 'endangerize' it off the market, or regulate it to oblivion, they cutsie it off the table.


37 posted on 08/07/2005 6:31:52 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Marching Morons are coming...and they're breeding more Democrats beyond all reason!)
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To: Alouette
Get yourself a good Cat who loves to Rabbit hunt. My mighty hunter cat just loves to bag rabbit.

sw

38 posted on 08/07/2005 6:34:17 PM PDT by spectre (Spectre's wife)
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To: U S Army EOD
Also the ratio of rabbit meat per pound compared to the food they consume is much higher than cattle.

If my memory serves me right:

Cattle: 4 lbs grain to produce 1# meat.

Hogs: 3 lbs grain to produce 1# meat.

Poultry:2 lbs grain to produce 1# meat.

Fish: 1.5 lbs grain to produce 1# meat.

What is the ratio for rabbit?

39 posted on 08/07/2005 6:38:26 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (God has blessed Republicans with really stupid enemies.)
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To: BulletBobCo

Yummmmmmmmmmmmmy!

40 posted on 08/07/2005 6:43:30 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: BulletBobCo
Rabbit meat industry insiders blame its decline for so many years on an undeserved bad rap. Though farm-raised rabbit tastes like -- surprise! -- tender chicken, it has a reputation as a tough and gamey meat (likely because wild rabbit generally is).

I know tastes are a matter of opinion but I suspect that this author has no idea what they are talking about.
Rabbit,domesticated or wild,tastes like rabbit,not chicken.I eat many wild rabbits that I shoot each winter and they are not tough or gamey.I have had both wild and domesticated rabbit cooked together and you can not tell the difference.

41 posted on 08/07/2005 6:44:17 PM PDT by carlr
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To: BulletBobCo

If carrots are so good for eyesight, how come there's so many dead bunnies on the road?


42 posted on 08/07/2005 6:44:42 PM PDT by 1john2 3and4
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To: WSGilcrest
*SNORT*, Oh, Jeez, I wasn't expecting that.........I just shot wine out my nose.......BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.......... :-)


43 posted on 08/07/2005 6:54:08 PM PDT by Viking2002 (Allah FUBAR!)
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To: Prime Choice

Oh geez. She is so nice. That pic is late '60's for sure. Back in the day when women groomed and dressed to please us guys. So long ago....

Anyway - I grew up with fried rabbit and home fries every Saturday, for some reason. Must have been Grandpa's .22 rifle and some time on the weekend to hunt. Delicious the culinary memory to this day.


44 posted on 08/07/2005 6:55:54 PM PDT by elcid1970
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To: WSGilcrest

45 posted on 08/07/2005 6:57:22 PM PDT by Feiny (Practice random and senseless acts.)
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To: Balding_Eagle
What is the ratio for rabbit?

My books, from when I home raised them in the late 70s early 80s pegged it at 4:1, but that may have improved with newer meat breeds.

OTOH, the fat, bone, and water-content ratios are much better per pound than for chicken.

I should add, that I never wanted for fishing worms, nor did I ever have better gardens, than when I raised rabbits.

46 posted on 08/07/2005 6:58:01 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Marching Morons are coming...and they're breeding more Democrats beyond all reason!)
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To: Prime Choice
"To heck with y'all! You'll never get me here!!"

Wanna bet?

47 posted on 08/07/2005 7:00:16 PM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: BulletBobCo

Didn't Michael Moore interview a woman who was selling "pets or meat" wabbits in Roger and Me?


48 posted on 08/07/2005 7:00:18 PM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: BulletBobCo
Anya:
bunnies aren't just cute as everybody supposes
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses
And what's with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
Bunnies, bunnies
It must be bunnies
49 posted on 08/07/2005 7:01:33 PM PDT by Talking_Mouse (Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just... Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Balding_Eagle

I should add that the 4:1 is for pellets, not grain. The pellets are way less than half grain, and are mostly alfalfa.


50 posted on 08/07/2005 7:02:15 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Marching Morons are coming...and they're breeding more Democrats beyond all reason!)
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