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Artisanal Meat

Artisanal Meat

Vermont Salumi

Artisanal Meat

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.

Hi Heather,

     You brought out an interesting point about how, slaughtering by machines takes the human presence out and makes us spectators.  “Finally, at the beginning of the eighties, the supply system of today was set up and refrigerator cars distributed the dressed carcasses to the various centers of consumption.” (Giedion, 1948)  Once again, we see how our mindset changed for want of convenience.  With the introduction of mechanization in the slaughtering process, not only did it remove the human element from the end of life process for the animals that the famer raised but it also made it cheaper.   So I think you are looking at a two-pronged approach, at least in the west.  You have people being distanced from livestock farming in its entirety and you also have local producers being put out of business by what I would assume to be cheaper meat based on the amounts available from Chicago or Cincinnati. 

Giedion, Siegfried. 1948. Mechanization Takes Command New York: Oxford University Press.      




Great post and video attachment. I agree with you that artisan is an appropriate term for the slaughter process and unfortunately it is a craft that is being lost. Understanding the skill required to take a the life of an animal and produce a product from the carcass is the final step in the production process. Obvious by the surge in popularity in products that are labelled “humane”, “sustainable”, “natural” and so on. Being meat eaters ourselves, we make it a point to acknowledge the life of an animal. We try to purchase whole animals and of possible we will meet the animal and process the gravity of the choice we have made. We also choose to play an active role in choosing our butcher and the discuss the processes that will be used. When having company we will often talk about the animal from which our meal came from and the response is overwhelmingly “ I could never see an animal that I am going to eat” , it is very unfortunate that people often want to be responsible and love the idea of artisan food products but are very uneducated and often unwilling to pay the higher prices.

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