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.