La Vida Local: The Honest Butcher

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lavidalocalThe series La Vida Local is aimed at connecting you with some of the best foods and goods within Vancouver while raising awareness of how buying local benefits everyone. I’m very excited to be able to introduce you some of my favourites around the city that I may or may not even know about yet!

The Honest ButcherThe Honest Butcher was brought to my attention by Cole Nowicki of Sunday Drive Digest with a warning that the series is “exceptionally cute and informative.” He was right! I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the first few episodes made by local filmmaker Katie Weldon.  The series focuses around 6-year-old Ava who gets up close and personal with butcher, David Ritzer and has endless enthusiasm about meat and where it comes from. It warms my heart seeing a new generation emerge learning about how their food is made and being given the proper education to make well informed choices.

Cole Nowicki did a great interview with Katie Weldon about the process of making the series and teaching the importance of sustainable butchery. Read more below:

How did you find out about The Honest Butcher, David Ritzer, and his hyper-cute, 6-year-old mini butchers-apprentice Ava?

It was from a Vancouver Sun article titled “The New Breed of Butcher.”  Within the text was this photo of David and Ava – which of course has such strong imagery that it caught my attention right away.

I’ve never seen someone so young be so comfortable around the death, dismemberment and sale of animal parts before. What do you think makes her appreciate the process so much?

Dang, good question. (Wish I’d asked her a question to that effect while we were filming!)  I imagine it has a lot to do with her parents’ approach to food.  They regularly bring Ava along to buy meat from their local butcher and often Ava has a hand in preparing and cooking that day’s purchase.  David, The Honest Butcher, doesn’t get squeamish when he’s handling the flesh of animals, nor do Ava’s parents when they’re cooking, so why should she?  Plus, her eyes light up when she talks about enjoying a good burger that she made herself… It’s fun and delicious at the same time!

The relationship between the two and their enthusiasm towards the job is something special. Did that help sell you on the project?

Actually, when I asked to do this project I had no clue Ava was that enthusiastic, nor that David was so succinct in explaining the complexities of butchery, and I didn’t have any insight on how the two would interact on camera–those were all pleasant discoveries while filming.  I just felt that I’d stumbled upon a unique and positive situation where the storyline was strong enough that the video wouldn’t be limited to viewers who were ALREADY interested and concerned with where their meat came from–because that would just be preaching to the choir, right?

How much did you know about sustainable butchery before working with David and has it changed your outlook at all?

By the time I met David, I had read a fair amount about butchery.  Watched a lot of videos online – some graphic, some not.  My appreciation for ethically-raised and butchered animals, as well as the farmers and butchers involved, grew immensely.  But having only bought and cooked meat at home a handful of times in my life, my understanding of sustainable meat was purely theoretical at that point.  David’s insight resonated with me and made it really clear how to turn sustainable meat in my daily life into a reality.

It’s upsetting to think about where our standard grocery-store meat comes from and how those animals are treated; yet we still buy it, myself included. How important is it for people to know that there are other, sustainable options out there?

SO IMPORTANT.  We’re not all fundamentalists, but we need to know that ethical options are available to us.

During the production of the series David actually closed shop on The Honest Butcher. Did that affect the direction of the project?

I suppose it just made the project more important to “get out there”.

What is he up to now?

After he closed the shop he did a bunch of travelling in Oregon and particularly the Bay Area in California–visiting butcher/cafe owner friends, teaching whole-animal butchery workshops, doing freelance butchery for farmer friends, all the while cooking and eating very well I imagine.  He’s just returned from those travels now and is still operating as “The Honest Butcher” but just without the physical shop.  He’s writing a cook book based on utilizing the whole animal, and of course, developing an educational web series with me!

Is Ava still around the sustainable butchery game?

I can say with confidence that she’s crafted a burger or two from sustainably-raised cattle in the last week or so, yes.

The first five episodes have been terrific, when can we expect the rest?

Thanks! We’re gonna release one episode a week until the first 10 have played out. But we’re already filming again with these two gems so it won’t end there!  You could subscribe to the video channel here or on The Honest Butcher blog.  I recommend following the Honest Butcher on Instagram as well to find photos like this..

Ava