Ashton Kutcher is the executive producer of a mini-documentary about Bay Area butcher shops which features Berkeley’s own The Local Butcher Shop, along with 4505 Meats and Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco.

The subject of meat, America’s industrial meat system and the growing movement towards more sustainable, humane practices is a hot one right now.

On Feb. 4 UC Berkeley is hosting a free screening of American Meat a pro-farmer documentary which takes a critical look at cattle, hog, and chicken production in the U.S. and examines the viability of moving the industry over to more sustainable practices. A discussion will follow the screening, moderated by Novella Carpenter, author of the best-selling memoir Farm City and co-owner of Berkeley’s BioFuel Oasis which, as well as selling bio-fuel to cars, offers urban farming classes.

In the 8-minute The Subculture of Butchers, produced by Thrash Lab, Local Butcher Shop co-owner Monica Rocchino explains that a key motivation for opening the store was so that she and her husband, Aaron Rocchino, formerly of Chez Panisse, could spend more time together, but she also talks of the way a community grows around a local purveyor of meat, and the role butcher shops such as theirs play in improving the quality of the meat we all eat. “The only way for us to truly have local food systems that involve meat is for the meat to find an avenue from the farm to the home. That’s what butchers do,” she says.

The Local Butcher Shop opened in August 2011 on Cedar Street in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, and, from the outset, the owners vowed to take a “whole beast” approach, bringing in whole carcasses of cows, pigs and sheep, and using every part of the animals, be it to create stewing lamb, a jar of rendered fat, or pork charcuterie.

The panel at the American Meat screening at Cal includes cattle and turkey ranchers Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman, UC Berkeley Professor of Rangeland Ecology and Management Lynn Huntsinger, and director, cinematographer, and producer of American Meat Graham Meriwether.

The free event will take place in UC Berkeley’s Sibley Auditorium and will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a limited number of fresh, hand-made burritos from American Meat sponsor and supporter, Chipotle Mexican Grill. Following dinner, the screening will begin at 7:00 p.m., and the panel discussion will follow at 8:30 p.m. For details and to RSVP visit the American Meat website.

Whole beast butcher shop taps into appetite for local meat [11.09.11]
Chez Panisse chef opens butcher shop in Berkeley [08.26.11]
Chez Panisse chef to open artisan butcher shop [05.26.11]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...