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 suggestsor 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
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
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.