Finding beauty and moral high ground in the abattoir.
In this debut memoir, Davis recounts the period when she was laid off from writing for a weekly paper in her native Portland, Oregon, and decided to become a professional butcher and local farming activist instead. When the first few butchers she sought out dismissed her attempts to learn the trade, the author maxed out her last credit card to study for seven weeks on a cooperative farm and slaughterhouse in Gascony, France. Davis’ apprenticeship introduced her to a different kind of industry, a radically local form of vertical integration wherein they slaughtered, butchered, and sold every inch of the animals they raised to customers living within driving distance. These conscientious slaughtering and curing methods inspired Davis to seek out other earnest, like-minded practitioners when she returned home. With few resources besides her partner, Joelle, a fellow female butcher, and her way with words, Davis helped start the Portland Meat Collective, one of the first organizations of its kind dedicated to educating American consumers about the provenance of their meat and to promoting the less familiar cuts and methods that whole-animal chefs around the world have been serving for generations. Though the meat-squeamish might skip over the visceral descriptions of killing animals, Davis writes for them in particular. The author and her ilk believe those who eat meat have a moral obligation to source it as conscientiously and locally as possible. The author writes almost as much about her love life and her search for authentic self-redefinition as she does about carving carcasses. She relates her simultaneous relationships with a man and a woman, her pratfalls as a butcher’s apprentice, and the shambling state of her affairs in general, but the writing, like her life, clicks into place when she loses herself in the subject matter.
The making of a young female entrepreneur rendered in unvarnished