An artisan is a person who is skilled at making things by hand (Merriam-Webster 2014). By using hands in anything food-related, from growing vegetables and other produce to raising meat and then slaughtering them for food, you create that connection that has been lost in the industrialized, mechanized food system. This question makes me think back to a conversation on stewardship and husbandry and I believe the two go hand in hand. In fact, stewardship and husbandry should emphasize the entire life cycle of livestock: from birth to death. Thus, artisan is a word that should be used in describing the slaughtering and butchering process if done with care, respect and art.
The use of machinery and mass-processing has taken the skill, and really the respect for the animal out of the slaughtering and butchering process. As Siegfried Giedion notes, “only the knife, guided by the human hand, can perform the transition from life to death in the desire manner.” (Giedion, 243). He further goes on to state that in the industrialized, mechanized slaughtering process: “One does not experience, one does not feel; one merely observes.” (Giedion, 246). Although I don’t consume meat, I have so much respect for the artisan meat producers in my bioregion. It’s comforting to know that there are people who care about the animals they produce from pasture to plate.
One such producer of artisanal meat close to my home is Pete Roscini Coleman of Vermont Salumi. The video link is his story.
Giedion, Siegfried. 1948. “Mechanization Takes Command.” New York: Oxford University Press.
Merriam-Webster. 2014. “Artisan.” Accessed June 20, 2014.