The Ethical Butcher: How Thoughtful Eating Can Change Your World

The Ethical Butcher: How Thoughtful Eating Can Change Your World

by Berlin Reed
     
 

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America is in the midst of a meat zeitgeist. Butchers have emerged as the rock stars of the culinary world, and cozy gastropubs serving up pork belly, lamb burgers, and sweetbreads rule the restaurant scene. In New York, the humble meatball enjoys entrée status from upscale Gramercy Tavern to newcomer The Meatball Shop. Across the country in San Francisco, savvy… See more details below

Overview

America is in the midst of a meat zeitgeist. Butchers have emerged as the rock stars of the culinary world, and cozy gastropubs serving up pork belly, lamb burgers, and sweetbreads rule the restaurant scene. In New York, the humble meatball enjoys entrée status from upscale Gramercy Tavern to newcomer The Meatball Shop. Across the country in San Francisco, savvy chefs flock to hip meat markets like The Fatted Calf. If butchers are our new rock stars, then Berlin Reed is their front man.

Berlin Reed is “The Ethical Butcher,” a former self-described militant vegan punk who grudgingly took a job as a butcher's apprentice in Brooklyn when he could find no other work. Shockingly, he fell in love with the art of butchering, and a food revolution was born. Along the way he saw how corporate greed, unsustainable food practices, and outright misinformation gave birth to such falsities as the USDA label ‘organic’ and the conglomerate of eco-friendly supermarkets. Most people, even those that try to be healthy and green, are not really eating what they think they are eating. The Ethical Butcher will shine a light on these untruths and show a better way towards food justice and the sustainable living of a mindful omnivore.

Through the lens of Berlin's personal story, The Ethical Butcher educates readers about how they can improve the meat industry by participating in it. It's a memoir in cuts – and Berlin's return to eating meat illustrates for readers and foodies alike how they can change the meat industry by making better choices.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for The Ethical Butcher

“Jonathan Safran Foer, in his book Eating Animals, calls the argument over the consumption of meat 'a slippery, frustrating, and resonant subject…that cuts right to one’s deepest discomforts, often provoking defensiveness or aggression.' The description couldn’t be more accurate, and the concept here lends Reed’s disinterested attitude a special relevance. In a conversation that’s overstuffed with animated opinions and lean on unbiased, comprehensible information, it’s refreshing to invite a new voice in: a person with brains about the subject, offering clear-cut facts that we can do with as we see fit. In the end, The Ethical Butcher is sure to provide a bounty of information, a fair amount of entertainment, and the occasional meal idea for any eager reader interested in delving deeper into the guts of the industry. And, if you’re primed for that sort of thing, it may even change your world, as the title suggests—or at least the way you think about it.” —Michael Gibney, Columbia Journal

"Part food memoir and part an argument for supporting sustainable, locally sourced organic food…[this is] A provocative, personal look at food production and locally sustained agriculture that may change the way readers decide what to put on their plates." —Kirkus

Library Journal
The current preference for local, artisanal foods has elevated many butchers to celebrity status. This may earn Reed's title some interest, but it is less a story about butchery than a guide to ethical eating. A former vegan, Reed abstained from animal products to avoid supporting the "greedy and harmful corporations" that were abusing animals and polluting the environment. After taking a job as a butcher, he realized that his abstaining from meat would not improve the industry and decided to focus on educating consumers on how to make more responsible choices. The first half of the book is part memoir, part personal philosophy on eating ethically. But it's a disjointed tale, jumping from issue to issue without fully exploring any of them. Readers looking for specifics will be more satisfied with the second half of the book, which explains the practices of industrialized meat production and fishing and what consumers should look for. VERDICT When Reed finally lays out his argument in a cohesive way and offers concrete suggestions, he makes a strong case. However, his extremist views can feel preachy and high-handed and may be off-putting to some readers. An optional purchase.—Melissa Stoeger, Deerfield P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
Part food memoir and part an argument for supporting sustainable, locally sourced organic food. Reed traces his transition from vegetarian to vegan to meat-eating whole-animal butcher in political and philosophical terms, rather than on moral grounds. His resistance to meat grew out of his knowledge of the "horrors of the meat industry." But his love of food eventually led him to a job as a butcher's assistant in a Brooklyn gourmet food shop, where he realized that he wasn't going to change the food industry by abstaining from animal products. Little by little, he began to eat meat again while learning everything he could about whole-animal butchery, how farm animals are raised and the sustainability of fish. For readers accustomed to delivering meat to their tables from packages, his descriptions of the butchering process are a graphic and reverential reminder of the once-living creatures we are eating. Reed's ethical butcher creed includes procuring locally sourced meat from responsible farmers who treat animals humanely; using local, in-season, natural foods with no soy or corn byproducts or genetically modified organisms; providing access and education about traditional farming through community events; and supporting fair labor and environmental practices. To get his message across and close the gap between farmers and consumers, he organized Ethical Butcher projects, such as farm-to-table dinners, across the country. He devotes a good part of the book to guidance and resources for readers interested in community-supported agriculture and organic food practices. The author liberally uses loaded terms, such as "Big Food" and "greedy," which puts an emotional spin on an otherwise reasonable point of view, and he can be preachy and dogmatic at times. However, he insists readers make their own decisions. A provocative, personal look at food production and locally sustained agriculture that may change the way readers decide what to put on their plates.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593765569
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
04/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
3 MB

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