Plate Night Telly

Watch what you eat on The Perennial Plate

A typical food-obsessed New Yorker might opt for a birthday barbecue at Pies 'n' Thighs or a Large Format Feast at Resto, but chef-filmmaker Daniel Klein celebrated his 26th birthday with a trip to Minnesota to slaughter and roast his own pig.

What started as a party turned into a project: Shortly after his birthday, Klein moved to Minnesota and launched a weekly web series called The Perennial Plate, which documents a year of sustainable eating in the upper Midwest.

Klein gains his expertise in local food through firsthand encounters: by drinking brandy with deer hunters, ice fishing for crappies and raising his own flock of chickens–the accounts of which have all made their way into episodes. The show has also captured a backyard maple-syrup set-up, a sheep's-milk cheesemaking operation and Klein's own procurement (and slaughter) of a Thanksgiving turkey.

Although Klein (who looks like he could be Jeff Corwin's little brother) is by no means the first to take up the sustainable-food mantle on camera, other food films, such as Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation, have exposed the evils of big agriculture. The Perennial Plate differentiates itself by focusing on the flip side and telling the success stories of small-scale, natural food producers.

Fans of the show can reap the benefits of Klein's adventures at one of his Harvest Dinners, which serve the dual purpose of funding the web project and keeping Klein's cooking skills sharp.

Here's one type of reality TV that we can get behind.