WARNING: All links in this post have pictures of carcasses. Don’t click them if you don’t want to see them.

Butchers are suddenly becoming famous (Young Idols and Meet the Ethical Butcher) and we’re seeing posts left and right on people wanting to learn more about their meat ( DIY Butchery, Nice to Meat You and Conscious Carnivores). With these butchery classes popping up in San Fransisco, Portland and New York, we decided to add Hailey, Idaho to the list.  We called up our butcher, Brent Jones, a few friends of Lava Lake, plus CK and Scott Mason and organized the session. Many of these classes are set up so that a professional butcher demonstrates everything while the group watches.  We decided to provide each participant with either a whole or half lamb, to make sure that they left our session with some real skills to put into practice (plus a quantity of delicious Lava Lake Lamb).

Mike Stevens and John French learn some wisdom from Scott Mason

Why are people so excited about learning how to butcher the animal themselves? To some, this is a chance to take the next step in increasing the transparency of their food. Scott Mason of the Ketchum Grill said, “You know, if you can’t understand where it’s coming from and what it actually is, you shouldn’t be eating it.” To others, it was a chance to become a better chef by learning more about cuts and where they come from in the animal. In the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan says, “We tolerate this…because the life of the pig has moved out of view; when’s the last time you saw a pig in person? Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. When was the last time you saw a butcher at work?” Our participants wanted the opportunity, not just to see a butcher at work, but to become the one wielding the knife.

Justin and Elizabeth Stevenson

Guy Hand put together a fantastic segment on Edible Idaho about the class. Listen to it here.

Thanks to all of our participants for joining in the class, to Brent Jones for teaching and to Scott Mason and CK for helping out!