Meet the Ethical Butcher:

When dangerously underemployed vegetarian Berlin Reed agreed to temporarily work the meat counter at Brooklyn’s The Greene Grape, he never expected that butchery would become his new career. Yet by the time temp turned to perm, Reed had found an unexpected new calling. By providing customers with meats from more humane and local sources, Reed saw that he could address the toxicity of the meat industry by changing it rather than just avoiding it

….In addition to his work at The Greene Grape, Reed is currently writing a book that details his journey from vegetarianism to ethical omnivorism and theorizes an environmentally friendly future for meat. He also plans to begin teaching waste-reducing meat-cutting classes to both home and professional chefs, which is only one of many ideas Reed has for spreading the word of ethical butchery….

…Reed initially became a vegetarian at age 12 “to piss my mom off,” but that vintage 1990s act of preteen rebellion soon deepened into a politicized stance. He stayed a vegetarian because didn’t want to support an industry that was based on cruelty to animals and destroying the earth…

It took two weeks behind the meat counter for Reed to fall off the veggie wagon. Although he had cooked meat while working the grill at a previous job, he had no idea what it tasted like. Now customers were asking for all kinds of advice on a food Reed hadn’t eaten since he was a child, and he found himself at a total loss. Uncomfortable with this knowledge gap, he wrestled with the concept of eating meat again. After all, Reed acknowledged, he was already cutting, cooking and doing everything shy of actually ingesting the stuff.

Reed has no regrets and is now an enthusiastic meat eater who wants to shift meat consumption to a model that’s sustainable. While he enjoys beef from time to time, he’s quick to point out that large-scale beef production is impossible to maintain without causing vast environmental damage. He argues that people need to begin viewing beef as an occasional delicacy rather than a staple…

With the market for healthier and more sustainably produced meats on the rise, Reed hopes that consumers of conscience will turn their dollars toward eating seasonally from local farms rather than focusing on “organic” or other such green-seeming labels…Meanwhile, multinational corporations that continue to wreak environmental havoc offer specialty organic lines of products that likely left an enormous carbon footprint on their way to your plate…

…Butchery, he says with intensity and slight awe, contains “everything I’m passionate about. It’s anatomy and physiology, it’s art, it’s athletic, it’s demanding and physical … it’s cooking, it’s food, it’s something I get to talk to people about, and it’s also political.”

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