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A wayward young woman abandons her magazine career to learn the old ways of butchery and discover what it means to take life into her own hands Camas Davis was at an unhappy crossroads. A longtime magazine writer and editor in the food world, she'd returned to her home state of Oregon with her boyfriend from New York City to take an appealing job at a Portland lifestyle mag A wayward young woman abandons her magazine career to learn the old ways of butchery and discover what it means to take life into her own hands Camas Davis was at an unhappy crossroads. A longtime magazine writer and editor in the food world, she'd returned to her home state of Oregon with her boyfriend from New York City to take an appealing job at a Portland lifestyle magazine. But neither job nor boyfriend delivered on her dreams, and in the span of a year, Davis was unemployed, on her own, with nothing to fall back on. Disillusioned by the years she'd spent mediating the lives of others for a living, she had no idea what to do next. She did know one thing: She no longer wanted to write about the real thing; she wanted to be the real thing. So when a friend told her about Kate Hill, an American woman living in Gascony, France who ran a cooking school and took in strays in exchange for painting fences and making beds, it sounded like just what she needed. She discovered a forgotten credit card that had just enough credit on it to buy a plane ticket and took it as kismet. Upon her arrival, Kate introduced her to the Chapolard brothers, a family of Gascon pig farmers and butchers, who were willing to take Camas under their wing, inviting her to work alongside them in their slaughterhouse and cutting room. In the process, the Chapolards inducted her into their way of life, which prizes pleasure, compassion, community, and authenticity above all else. So begins Camas Davis's funny, heartfelt, searching memoir of her unexpected journey to become a successful and enlightened butcher. It's a story that takes her from an eye-opening stint in rural France where deep artisanal craft and whole animal gastronomy thrives despite the rise of mass scale agribusiness, back to a Portland in the throes of a food revolution, where it suddenly seems possible to translate much of this old-world craft into a new world setting. Camas faces hardships and heartaches along the way, but in the end, Killing It is about what it means to pursue the real thing and to dedicate your life to it.


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A wayward young woman abandons her magazine career to learn the old ways of butchery and discover what it means to take life into her own hands Camas Davis was at an unhappy crossroads. A longtime magazine writer and editor in the food world, she'd returned to her home state of Oregon with her boyfriend from New York City to take an appealing job at a Portland lifestyle mag A wayward young woman abandons her magazine career to learn the old ways of butchery and discover what it means to take life into her own hands Camas Davis was at an unhappy crossroads. A longtime magazine writer and editor in the food world, she'd returned to her home state of Oregon with her boyfriend from New York City to take an appealing job at a Portland lifestyle magazine. But neither job nor boyfriend delivered on her dreams, and in the span of a year, Davis was unemployed, on her own, with nothing to fall back on. Disillusioned by the years she'd spent mediating the lives of others for a living, she had no idea what to do next. She did know one thing: She no longer wanted to write about the real thing; she wanted to be the real thing. So when a friend told her about Kate Hill, an American woman living in Gascony, France who ran a cooking school and took in strays in exchange for painting fences and making beds, it sounded like just what she needed. She discovered a forgotten credit card that had just enough credit on it to buy a plane ticket and took it as kismet. Upon her arrival, Kate introduced her to the Chapolard brothers, a family of Gascon pig farmers and butchers, who were willing to take Camas under their wing, inviting her to work alongside them in their slaughterhouse and cutting room. In the process, the Chapolards inducted her into their way of life, which prizes pleasure, compassion, community, and authenticity above all else. So begins Camas Davis's funny, heartfelt, searching memoir of her unexpected journey to become a successful and enlightened butcher. It's a story that takes her from an eye-opening stint in rural France where deep artisanal craft and whole animal gastronomy thrives despite the rise of mass scale agribusiness, back to a Portland in the throes of a food revolution, where it suddenly seems possible to translate much of this old-world craft into a new world setting. Camas faces hardships and heartaches along the way, but in the end, Killing It is about what it means to pursue the real thing and to dedicate your life to it.

30 review for Killing It: An Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    EAT, PRAY, LOVE, only this time 1) in France 2) with meat, and (3) an extra helping of self-absorption.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rae DelBianco

    A transparent, honest, selfless evaluation of an issue most every modern American faces— what have we lost by making life easier? And in particular, what have we lost by releasing ourselves from responsibility and reverence toward where our food comes from? As a former teenage cattle rancher, Davis asks all the questions I'd locked up in my heart as a kid, and addresses them with intellectual curiosity, respect, and empathy, without pretending to know all the answers. I highly, highly recommend A transparent, honest, selfless evaluation of an issue most every modern American faces— what have we lost by making life easier? And in particular, what have we lost by releasing ourselves from responsibility and reverence toward where our food comes from? As a former teenage cattle rancher, Davis asks all the questions I'd locked up in my heart as a kid, and addresses them with intellectual curiosity, respect, and empathy, without pretending to know all the answers. I highly, highly recommend it for anyone seeking more understanding and involvement in the eating in our daily lives. It's a book that makes you think, and will stay with you long after you've finished the last page.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    THIS BOOK. I LOVED IT. A memoir about life, love and butchery - be prepared for this to be a true memoir, not a narrative nonfiction account of the meat industry. Davis examines her entire life as she goes through the journey she embarks upon, and shares it all here. And I'm IN because that's exactly what I'm looking for in a memoir - the personal touch. Regarding meat - lots of people have been asking “will it make me want to be a vegetarian?” and my answer is what I think the author would say THIS BOOK. I LOVED IT. A memoir about life, love and butchery - be prepared for this to be a true memoir, not a narrative nonfiction account of the meat industry. Davis examines her entire life as she goes through the journey she embarks upon, and shares it all here. And I'm IN because that's exactly what I'm looking for in a memoir - the personal touch. Regarding meat - lots of people have been asking “will it make me want to be a vegetarian?” and my answer is what I think the author would say ~ is it ethical to eat meat but want to be ignorant of where it came from? The book didn’t make me want to quit eating meat at all, but it did definitely make me think a lot harder about WHERE the meat comes from. And how it was raised and killed and butchered. It’s a deeply pragmatic and philosophical book for foodies and thinkers alike.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrienne

    I was both aghast and tantalized with how the author pulled off describing her experience in butchery and sharing her views about meat processing and meat consumption. This book transformed me - I’m still a meat eater but it has made me curious about the meat handling process and it has made me care about where my food comes from. Review copy provided by the publisher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hayli

    '"I also believe if every slaughterhouse and farm and butcher shop were made of glass, we'd have a very different system of meat production.'" 3 stars. This book was ok, nothing wrong or problematic, but not something I would normally read. I loved the parts of the book that were set in Gascony. Learning about the whole culture of slaughtering and eating meat in France was so fascinating. This book makes me want to travel to France to experience exactly what the writer did. I thought the inclusion '"I also believe if every slaughterhouse and farm and butcher shop were made of glass, we'd have a very different system of meat production.'" 3 stars. This book was ok, nothing wrong or problematic, but not something I would normally read. I loved the parts of the book that were set in Gascony. Learning about the whole culture of slaughtering and eating meat in France was so fascinating. This book makes me want to travel to France to experience exactly what the writer did. I thought the inclusion of some of the discussions raised around feminism and eating meat were also interesting. I don't think I understood the argument entirely, but that was not what the focus of the book was at all. I loved how Davis writes about her frustrations with being a woman in this industry and how she was such a spectacle for being not just a female butcher, but a pretty, female butcher. And the perceptions and images of butchery in America versus what she experienced in France. After she came back from her trip to Gascony was where I lost my interest. I read Eating Animals earlier this year which absolutely astounded me with how insightful it was about the meat industry in America and I did not get the same feeling from this book at all. Mainly because this is not a book about the horrors of the meat industry but more the choices people can make to try source and eat meat more ethically.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    In the world of food I often feel like there is very little compromise. There is a big divide, which is social, cultural, and moral that forces people to make ultimatums between vegetarianism/veganism or an omnivorous lifestyle. People who don’t eat meat do so for many different reasons, but a lot of them do so because they are concerned about the welfare of animals. Others do it out of religious or social reasons. The question of eating meat or not is complicated though. On the one hand, many p In the world of food I often feel like there is very little compromise. There is a big divide, which is social, cultural, and moral that forces people to make ultimatums between vegetarianism/veganism or an omnivorous lifestyle. People who don’t eat meat do so for many different reasons, but a lot of them do so because they are concerned about the welfare of animals. Others do it out of religious or social reasons. The question of eating meat or not is complicated though. On the one hand, many people do not know how to answer if meat eating is ethical, and on the other hand many people would argue that meat eating is in and of itself completely unethical. I am not sure that Camas Davis’ memoir Killing It: An Education can answer all the questions about eating meat, neither do I think this review of her book can do much more. What I do believe is important about eating meat is that we are asking questions, investigating how meat is farmed and made, and how we could change our meat consumption to make meat eating better for the world. I feel like before going into this review it is important to talk about my own stance on food, eating meat, and vegetarianism/veganism. I am an omnivore and have been my whole life. I am also an omnivore with food allergies and intolerances, which makes eating a bit of a minefield sometimes. As someone with food allergies to some of the major (non-meat) plant-based protein sources, my diet is complicated. I do not believe I could be healthy and vegan. And with advice from my allergy specialists I have finally found a food formula that works for me that is an unapologetic omnivorous menu. I have also always eaten meat. I have fished/hunted and killed animals to eat. I have helped tan the skins of animals for leather and washed out intestines to make sausages. I like to eat and use as much of the animal as possible. Much like Davis, I come from a small part of society that has been connected to the life, death, and consumption of animals. The full circle of life, if you will. Whilst Davis talks of an education on where meat comes from in her memoir, I would argue that we need a re-education and a re-learning of where meat comes from and how we should be eating it. The meat industry is often clouded with mystery. As Davis explains, most butchers would not be able to tell you how their meat got to them. If the animals were happy, free, old, young, etc. There is a real disconnect with meat on our plates and the cows walking around outside. Most people are disgusted by raw meat or the thought of killing animals, yet still eat meat. Most people would not be able to tell you how old pigs are at slaughter. We have had the hard stuff taken away and hidden from us, and so we end up clueless about the process. This leads us to often making decisions about meat consumption based on price (cheap is best) and not based on how the animals lived or were treated before and after slaughter. Something else that Davis only briefly touches on in the memoir is also the complication of class and money. A lot of people around the world eat meat because that is what is available. It is cheap or easy and therefore uncomplicated. It is easy to talk about ethical meat consumption when you have a steady stable job with a good salary and healthcare. It is entirely another story when you add poverty, food deserts, and class structures to the mix of ethical meat consumption. Although, like Davis suggests, meat consumption doesn’t have to a ‘yes’/’no’ answer. I believe, like Davis, that there are ways to eat meat ethically, which takes into account not just the way the animal was raised, but also the environment at large. It does mean that we need to cut down on the consumption of meat, buy meat locally, and learn more about how animals are treated through the entire process. I also strongly believe in witnessing the death of animal you are going to eat at least once in your life. If you eat meat, but killing an animal makes you cringe in horror, then maybe you should think about why you eat meat at all. Re-learning how to eat meat means that action has to come from governments and the food industry as well as from below, the people. It means asking your butchers where their meat comes from. It means maybe looking for local farmers to deal directly with rather than big supermarket chains that buy from factory farms. It means having real and honest conversations with vegetarians and vegans and maybe looking at some more vegetable-based meals than you’re used to. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that many vegetarians/vegans and/or animal rights activists have largely differing beliefs to the average omnivore. In fact, I think most people care about animal welfare, what happens to the environment, and trying to find ways to be healthy regardless of whether they eat meat or not. However, we have also created kilometres of no-mans-land between the two ideologies and neither side wants to come over the trenches to share a meal. I also want to say that we cannot forget people with illnesses that directly impact how people eat. People with autoimmune diseases like allergies, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis (just to name a few) are often attacked for their food choices by vegetarians and vegans who refuse to believe that there are people who cannot be healthy just on plant-based diets. Not to mention people with anorexia, orthorexia, autism, ADD, and OCD (again, just to name a few) cannot restrict their diets because of their mental health and general well-being. Food is always personal. It is so strongly linked to our culture, our family, our way of life, and our identity and we often forget this. I think this is partially why discussions about food can be so heated and passionate. We need to have more conversations about the way we consume meat that includes discussions about poverty, illness, availability, health, and social inclusion. We need to re-learn not just the way we eat meat, but also the way we talk about meat and Davis’ book is a great place to start. How do you think we can have positive conversations about meat eating? Have you ever sourced meat locally before? Have you read Davis’ memoir? As always, share the reading love.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy Morgan

    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Camas Davis is a magazine writer who just got fired from her job, left her long time boyfriend and then moved in with a new boyfriend who she immediately tells she is going to France to learn to be a butcher. Sounds crazy right? I thought so until I read her story. This book was incredibly fascinating and made me really think about where my food comes from and where I want it to come from in the future. Camas's entire journey into the world of Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Camas Davis is a magazine writer who just got fired from her job, left her long time boyfriend and then moved in with a new boyfriend who she immediately tells she is going to France to learn to be a butcher. Sounds crazy right? I thought so until I read her story. This book was incredibly fascinating and made me really think about where my food comes from and where I want it to come from in the future. Camas's entire journey into the world of butchering was so enlightening and I was capitvated throughout the whole story. This book made me think about so many things on so many levels. Everyone should definitely read it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Absolutely fantastic. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone on the fence about eating meat. As someone who does, I have learned so much about the process and where our food comes from from Camas Davis. She's a beautiful writer, and as much as her descriptions of butchery make you wince, her descriptions of her time in France make you drool. Writing about food and, of course, meat becomes almost poetic in her hands. Which sounds over-the-top and absurd, but it's true. I just loved this s Absolutely fantastic. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone on the fence about eating meat. As someone who does, I have learned so much about the process and where our food comes from from Camas Davis. She's a beautiful writer, and as much as her descriptions of butchery make you wince, her descriptions of her time in France make you drool. Writing about food and, of course, meat becomes almost poetic in her hands. Which sounds over-the-top and absurd, but it's true. I just loved this so much. Davis really knocked it out of the park with this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I devoured this book very quickly, mostly because I often said I wanted to quite my job, work with my hands, and become a butcher. Obviously that hasn't happened yet so this book was the next best thing. Interesting insights on different cultures and whole animal butchery and the arguments about whether to eat meat or not, all good stuff. Kept me entertained from beginning to end. It very much speaks to a city reader, growing up near farms and rural landscapes I know where you can purchase a who I devoured this book very quickly, mostly because I often said I wanted to quite my job, work with my hands, and become a butcher. Obviously that hasn't happened yet so this book was the next best thing. Interesting insights on different cultures and whole animal butchery and the arguments about whether to eat meat or not, all good stuff. Kept me entertained from beginning to end. It very much speaks to a city reader, growing up near farms and rural landscapes I know where you can purchase a whole animal and get it butchered to your liking. One interesting point she made was how many people don't eat head cheese, gizzards and other non-conventional animals parts anymore, and it made me think about how my grandparents DID make head cheese and eat liver or gizzards, and frankly I'm a little sad I had shown no interest in trying or gleaning those recipes that are now gone with them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This nonfiction book was pretty interesting. The author left a food writing job to spend some time in France training as a butcher but it ends up coming across as more of a dabble than a career commitment and most of the book follows the ambivalence she feels to several professions and several love interests but her constant commitment is to getting folks to think more about the meat that they eat and if there is a better way to honor the animal's life by using more of the less "prime" cuts. She This nonfiction book was pretty interesting. The author left a food writing job to spend some time in France training as a butcher but it ends up coming across as more of a dabble than a career commitment and most of the book follows the ambivalence she feels to several professions and several love interests but her constant commitment is to getting folks to think more about the meat that they eat and if there is a better way to honor the animal's life by using more of the less "prime" cuts. She never embraces the "I am now a butcher" role and instead stresses how she feels like a poser in the industry which is maybe what distinguishes her most as a "lady butcher." If she were a man, the book would be about how she is the greatest butcher/chef/storyteller that ever lived. The book is good, it makes you think and her story is interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mollie

    Formidable! What an awesome read! Fascinating and sincere, Camas Davis will make you question where our meat comes from and, at the same time, make you want to learn how to butcher a pigs head and make pate de tete. Read this book as soon as you can get your hands on it. You will not be disappointed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Thanks to Cindy Roesel and Penguin for this book. I'd have to give this book 3.5 stars. Everything you've always wanted to know about pigs and butchering of them and other meats and were afraid to ask. If you don't eat bacon, pork, or other products of the pig or any other meat, or you are squeamish, this book might not be for you. It was a learning experience to say the least about this process. I wasn't sure how I would like reading about slaughtering pigs and meats but I ended up really liking Thanks to Cindy Roesel and Penguin for this book. I'd have to give this book 3.5 stars. Everything you've always wanted to know about pigs and butchering of them and other meats and were afraid to ask. If you don't eat bacon, pork, or other products of the pig or any other meat, or you are squeamish, this book might not be for you. It was a learning experience to say the least about this process. I wasn't sure how I would like reading about slaughtering pigs and meats but I ended up really liking it. I thought the first 150 pages were a little slow for me since Camas was in France learning and I got a little bored with all the details, etc. She came back to the U.S. finally and ended up doing a lot of freelance reporting, writing when she decides to do classes in how to butcher meat, pigs, etc. She ends up working in a meat market where she learns all kinds of things until she goes independent and teaches and becomes successful.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Camas Davis's eye-opening experience will truly educate its reader on all things meat. You'll ask yourself questions about all facets of the meat industry - because that is exactly where her path led after being let go from her food magazine job in 2009. From comparing American practices to traditional French ways she learned while studying butchery abroad, to the truth behind buzz words like"local" grass-fed" etc. Davis has an informative approach that also touches on personal moments in her li Camas Davis's eye-opening experience will truly educate its reader on all things meat. You'll ask yourself questions about all facets of the meat industry - because that is exactly where her path led after being let go from her food magazine job in 2009. From comparing American practices to traditional French ways she learned while studying butchery abroad, to the truth behind buzz words like"local" grass-fed" etc. Davis has an informative approach that also touches on personal moments in her life, as would any memoir. But I felt most involved with the story being told when she returned from France and put her learning into practice creating the Portland Meat Collective. Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or even undecided, there is a reason to pick up this book- I'm grateful for the opportunity to never look at meat the same way, and that is the highest compliment I can pay.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura Yan

    eat pray love, but with butchery? reading this book was pretty wonderful - i got a glimpse of a world i knew little about, and i appreciated camas's nuanced approach to thinking about food and meat and consumption (even if at times it leaned too heavily on romanticizing the traditions of the french). her personal stories and romantic interludes were nonessential but fun (if at times leaning a bit too heavily on ego), and the description of the cooking school in gascony was wonderful and lush. it eat pray love, but with butchery? reading this book was pretty wonderful - i got a glimpse of a world i knew little about, and i appreciated camas's nuanced approach to thinking about food and meat and consumption (even if at times it leaned too heavily on romanticizing the traditions of the french). her personal stories and romantic interludes were nonessential but fun (if at times leaning a bit too heavily on ego), and the description of the cooking school in gascony was wonderful and lush. it made me get excited about learning more about butchery and cuts of meat and looking at things differently, which meant it was a great discovery.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Renae

    3 stars - but only b/c the author went into French cuisine, culinary techniques, etc. This book was Eat Pray Love meets Julia & Julia with one of the most stunning heaping's of self-absorbed "humbled bragging" ever imagined. I found myself skipping over the author talking about how brave she was, her detailed conversations on how she had no idea if she would write a book ( which appears to have been planned the entire time) and how she embraced people thinking she was crazy b/c deep down she 3 stars - but only b/c the author went into French cuisine, culinary techniques, etc. This book was Eat Pray Love meets Julia & Julia with one of the most stunning heaping's of self-absorbed "humbled bragging" ever imagined. I found myself skipping over the author talking about how brave she was, her detailed conversations on how she had no idea if she would write a book ( which appears to have been planned the entire time) and how she embraced people thinking she was crazy b/c deep down she knows how awesome she is and the author wants you to know how awesome she is too damn it!! If you enjoy reading about food, where your food comes from and classic techniques regarding all things food related there are parts of this book you will enjoy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Smith

    Camas Davis is discontented writing and editing food magazines and needs a change. Suddenly unemployed, Davis travels to France to learn butchery from an established family of pig farmers. Throughout her journey she confronts her preconceived ideas and feelings about all aspects of meat, the need for creating meaningful work and community. She continues her path back in Oregon, creating the Portland Meat Collective. Davis openly shares her struggle, doubts and successes finding authenticity.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Great exploration of the road to learning to butcher, humane treatment of the animals we eat, and the whole animal movement. Davis has become a voice to be heard.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Loved it! Really got me thinking about meat and our ideas around it. I was already a fan of Fergus Henderson and his ideas but they always seemed too exotic to work in America. Davis shows it can be done here and done well. I may not be ready to hop a plane to France but I am anxious to find local farms in my area and start learning for myself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    2 stars. So to me, "Killing It" by Camas Davis is two books in one. Part of the book is about a woman living in Portland, OR who after being fired from her magazine job decides to stop writing and start doing. In this case, that means heading over to France and learning (in just 7 weeks) how to be a butcher thanks to a very kind French family, the Chapolards. Still, this is also a book about that exact same woman trying to live her life. The book (both halves) is done in a memoir fashion and thou 2 stars. So to me, "Killing It" by Camas Davis is two books in one. Part of the book is about a woman living in Portland, OR who after being fired from her magazine job decides to stop writing and start doing. In this case, that means heading over to France and learning (in just 7 weeks) how to be a butcher thanks to a very kind French family, the Chapolards. Still, this is also a book about that exact same woman trying to live her life. The book (both halves) is done in a memoir fashion and though I absolutely LOVED and was completely engrossed by the parts about butchery, I could of totally done without her love life and, in my opinion, often hypocritical views on other matters. At times it's just offal. Bada bing! The book splits roughly 10/40/50%. The first 10% is the author bemoaning her situation as she is getting canned at her job. "Wahh, my boss doesn't like me" and "Wahhh, my boyfriend of ten years won't marry me so we broke up". Entirely way too much time is spent initially with the author poo-pooing her life. Who hasn't had a job that was all wrong for them? Your problems aren't special, as much as you'd like your readers to believe. And instead of walking out of her awful job with some self respect and dignity, she is content to listen through the vents as her boss talks poorly of her, and then just waits around until the ax, eventually and unsurprisingly, falls. Come on, girl, they're doing you a favor! You're not putting me into your camp, honestly, you're putting me off. Thankfully the author buys that plane ticket and we head over to France. Where for the most part the book gets really good. Now we're in France where the author stays at a type of foodie-commune run by Kate who exchanges room and board at her place for help pulling weeds in her garden and putting up food stuff. The author is getting the lion's share of the deal here and though she is aware of that fact, she is still an egotist. At one point two Midwestern women, interested in starting a French bakery back in the states take up residence at Kate's place but they don't seem to mesh as well with the scene (at least not as well as Davis) and everyone breaths a big, happy sigh of relief when these two women return stateside. Wow you're mean! Davis has been there, what, a week? At this point in the book she hasn't even slaughtered her first pig and already she's the judge of who belongs and who doesn't? I think she writes of those two women something like, "they just didn't get it." Oh and you're Julia Child? Writing "Mastering the Art of French Butchery" are we? I found it very hard to like the author. I was jealous of what she was doing but her sitting around drinking other people's Armagnac and casting judgement? Who the hell are you? About the midway point in the book, Davis returns to the states on a mission to put to use what she has learned in France. The final 50% of the book flirts with being interesting. Davis writes about getting an educational co-op started for those interested in whole animal butchery making use of every part of the animal which I whole-heartedly applaud and support. But then she goes and makes me wonder if she's in it out of genuine interest or in it for the fashion as she talks about the guys showing up to a hog slaughter in Converse shoes and Danner boots. At a presentation featuring poets readying their work about what meat, eating it and hunting it etc, means to them she tells us, "I decided to wear tight gray jeans and Sigerson Morrison heels" (p. 200) because she's the "sexy butcher". I picked up this book because I wanted to read about someone going from knowing nothing about butchering to be skilled in the art. I could not give two shits what brand of shoes you're wearing. To make it worse, for me at least, she then goes on to tell about (and excuse) the fact that she's sleeping with two different people and on the very next page. Yet, she has the nerve (in this case referring to killing the animal) say, "You commit to the act." I didn't understand how the author could make a point of committing to taking an animals life but see nothing wrong with not committing to a monogamous relationship. I honestly don't care who you're sleeping with, but I want to read a book about Camas Davis the butcher and not Camas Davis the bisexual. And from their it just goes downhill for me. Though there are still interesting parts about her teaching classes on whole animal butchery and trying to educate high school kids just what is in that burger they love and where it comes from, there's much more about her having to put up with people who don't understand what she's trying to do, don't want to know where they're dinner is coming from, or being in a legal battle with rabbit stealing vegans. Uhhh, aren't you doing this to EDUCATE people? The fact that people don't understand is just job security! Also, you start a meat collective in PORTLAND of all places and then you have the nerve to act surprised that you're getting some backlash from PETA? What did you think was going to happen?!? Are we suppose to feel sorry for you? Because, again, I don't. Especially when you set out to bring Pate to the People but then write, "Still, I find myself not telling [about what she does] when I think that the telling will be too hard, that it will require too much of my energy, and too much of anyone else's. I wish, out of empathy, to prevent others from bearing the weight of it" (p. 329). So after 300+ pages of presenting yourself as this crusader for trying to get people to eat the whole pig and not just pork chops you're telling us some days it's just too much work? Where's the passion from the chapters when you were in France? You're getting all this press from Martha Stewart but you just don't feel like it today? Then it all concludes with a unclear story about the author's niece as she asks a child's questions about the world. The connection to seeing a pig go from being alive in a barn to being dinner on your plate is petty weak. And that's where it ends with more of an apology than a battle cry for what Davis is trying to do.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jay bookworm

    I am sending a huge thank you to the publisher, Penguin, as well as Goodreads for offering this giveaway. This book absolutely blew me away. The author lost her job, had a dream and eventually made it happen. Her dream? To become a butcher. Luckily, her previous job gave her a network to be able to explore the world of whole animal butchering and the people that she meets along the way teach her many things. The writing is amazing, poetic, romantic (yes, the way she talks about food and animals I am sending a huge thank you to the publisher, Penguin, as well as Goodreads for offering this giveaway. This book absolutely blew me away. The author lost her job, had a dream and eventually made it happen. Her dream? To become a butcher. Luckily, her previous job gave her a network to be able to explore the world of whole animal butchering and the people that she meets along the way teach her many things. The writing is amazing, poetic, romantic (yes, the way she talks about food and animals and her journey among farmers and foodies is totally romantic) and entrancing. I could not put this book down. When she was reflective, self-doubting and uncertain, so was I. This book made me want to quit my job and explore a whole other world, but I think I would chase cheese and wine. Don’t get me wrong, I have a whole list of new charcuterie to try, but not a dream to be a lady poet butcher. Great job Camas!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathy (Bermudaonion)

    3.75 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Judd

    I don't know why but the whole time I read this book I imagined the author as Miranda from Sex and the City. I listened to her interview on Fresh Air and wanted to read the book, partly for the memoir and partly for what I imagined would be a thoughtful and elevated conversation about eating meat and the ethics of eating meat. The book is not as elevated as the interview makes it sound. Do not expect a heavy philosophical or even extensive, nuanced discussion of the ethics of eating meat. The et I don't know why but the whole time I read this book I imagined the author as Miranda from Sex and the City. I listened to her interview on Fresh Air and wanted to read the book, partly for the memoir and partly for what I imagined would be a thoughtful and elevated conversation about eating meat and the ethics of eating meat. The book is not as elevated as the interview makes it sound. Do not expect a heavy philosophical or even extensive, nuanced discussion of the ethics of eating meat. The ethics of eating meat and problems with eating meat (factory farming, etc.) are mentioned in almost every chapter but she tends to repeat the same five or six lines: "it's different when you have to confront the animal . . . there's no easy answer . . . i try to be respectful . . . " In any case, the memoir part of the book is light and fun with lots of dialogue and funny, interesting episodes. To be honest, I more enjoyed the second half of the book when she returns to Portland and has to contend with the reality of doing something with her French sojourn. The French sojourn is interesting and fun to read but she writes about it as if she ran away to France for 10 years when in reality it was like 7 weeks... please. The travel part of the book feels a little too Elizabeth Gilbert-y for me, but, like I said, I enjoyed it. The only real issue I had with the book was this: I know that books, especially memoirs, are by nature therapeutic and help people process, make sense of, organize, and give a narrative shape to the mundane and the traumatic events of their lives. I get that. A reader should expect some degree of that. But the book has a tendency to default into what often sounds like the author on the therapist's couch trying to explain away her personality neuroses, identity crisis, and bad choices (using people, being manipulative, questioning her authenticity, the purity of her motives and intentions, feeling unsure of who she is, how others perceive her, etc.). It got to be a bit too much. I felt like she maybe needed to offload some of that in an actual therapy session rather than pass that burden on to the reader. It's not that kind of book, okay? We didn't necessarily sign up for that. The author strikes me as very Gen-Xer--the type of Gen-Xer who maybe was born a little too soon to feel more at home as a millennial, but nonetheless can't escape the Gen-Xer qualities of her nature and personality. That's not a judgement good or bad. It's just an impression. In any case, I enjoyed the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim Good

    To me the book had elements of Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, and William Finnegan. This is more a story of self-discovery, than food. It starts with Camus in a depressed mood having broken up from a long-term relationship and been terminated from her job as a food critic. In a Finnegan like flourish written from a future perspective she assesses: “The choices and decisions I made—to stay in a career that made me unhappy, to stay with a man whose vision of the future did not include me—felt ra To me the book had elements of Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, and William Finnegan. This is more a story of self-discovery, than food. It starts with Camus in a depressed mood having broken up from a long-term relationship and been terminated from her job as a food critic. In a Finnegan like flourish written from a future perspective she assesses: “The choices and decisions I made—to stay in a career that made me unhappy, to stay with a man whose vision of the future did not include me—felt rather more automatic than thoughtful, more convenient than meaningful.” On a whim she decides to spend the last of her money and go to France to apprentice as a butcher without any real plan to use the skill later in life. While in France she talks about the cultural differences between France and the US, but also between her and others she happens upon who are on different paths of discovery. In reflection she writes: “I had come to France in order to stop telling myself convenient but mostly untrue stories about myself. But I had also come to France to escape the stories I had no control over, the stories other people told themselves about me. I was naïve to think I could ever escape these.” The second, and to me more interesting, part of the story is her return to Portland as she begins to find and assert herself. Through a myriad of small jobs to make some money and chance meeting of two lovers who provide both emotional and working support, she begins to ferret out a philosophy of ethical meat consumption. This includes humanely raising, killing, and butchering of the animals as well as full consumption. Before her philosophy is fully formed, she begins to educate herself on the different techniques used to raise, kill, butcher, and distribute meat in the US. Still learning herself, she sets about teaching others at the same time and establishes the Portland Meat Collective for like-minded people. This is a book about self-discovery that includes elements of Pollan and the slow food movement without getting into details. The story is engaging and well with the read. In the future I hope Camas writes another book that does get into those details.

  24. 4 out of 5

    M

    "It seemed to be, standing there with two halves of a pig brain cupped in my palm, that we are often terrible at this kind of first rate intelligence, that, in fact, so much of what we do is in the service of keeping opposing ideas at bay inside ourselves. Isn't this what we're doing when we eat meat without taking part in the process that brings it to our tables, without ever being required to stare back at the animal that made the meat possible? Did we not grow our industrial food complex prec "It seemed to be, standing there with two halves of a pig brain cupped in my palm, that we are often terrible at this kind of first rate intelligence, that, in fact, so much of what we do is in the service of keeping opposing ideas at bay inside ourselves. Isn't this what we're doing when we eat meat without taking part in the process that brings it to our tables, without ever being required to stare back at the animal that made the meat possible? Did we not grow our industrial food complex precisely so that we didn't have to simultaneously become fond of our pig and be glad to salt it too?" Fired from a career as a magazine editor in New York City, Camas Davis picked up and left the big city for a simpler life in her hometown near Portland, Oregon. Feeling lost, she left Oregon for an unexpected stay in Gascony, France, where a woman who ran a cooking school took her in, and introduced her to a family of pig butchers and farmers. After learning about the ethical farming and slaughter of animals raised for food, Camas started the "Portland Meat Collective", a meat education school where people come together to learn, in person, how a farmer/butcher raises and kills an animal ethically and humanely. This book is not for the faint of heart; Camas details how a pig is electrocuted by using headphones, hung upside down, and ultimately killed and bled to death. More importantly, she talks about the horrors of factory farming, how stress from living in cramped areas with other animals leads to adrenaline/lactic acid being released in their systems - which leads to watery muscles, which we, as humans, consume at the end of the day. The dissociation that exists between our factory-farmed meat, and how an animal is raised and killed/butchered in America is terrifying. Although it was hard to read, this book really changed how I think about any of the meat I consume. I also enjoyed reading about the relationships Camas formed during her journey. Her lost loves, and the loves she formed along the way. A stunning book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wendy (bardsblond)

    For anyone who has wrestled with the role of meat in the food system and being carnivorous himself or herself, I highly recommend this book. Camas Davis is a former magazine writer who, after spending ten years in publishing, grew weary of the white-collar world and felt an irresistible urge to become a butcher. She traveled to France to learn how to butcher pigs. Davis went on to found the Portland Meat Collective, a butchery school devoted to teaching students responsible meat production and c For anyone who has wrestled with the role of meat in the food system and being carnivorous himself or herself, I highly recommend this book. Camas Davis is a former magazine writer who, after spending ten years in publishing, grew weary of the white-collar world and felt an irresistible urge to become a butcher. She traveled to France to learn how to butcher pigs. Davis went on to found the Portland Meat Collective, a butchery school devoted to teaching students responsible meat production and consumption in the United States, about livestock sustainability, about what it means to be an ethical eater of meat. As a meat eater, I think about this frequently: if we don’t support ethical meat production (i.e. ranchers doing things the “right” way), then we don’t change the food system. But to support those ranchers, it means we consume meat. Tricky business. Davis’ book is not only fascinating because is delves into the ethical quandary of taking lives to sustain our own but also because she really digs into what our food is made of – What muscles within the animal are responsible for giving us pork chops and why is cooking them different from cooking bacon? Why in the U.S. do we overcook pork, anyway, and is fear of trichinosis justified? How does one slaughter an animal to minimize cruelty? An Education, indeed. Davis also divulges pieces of her own life to humanize this account of her transition from magazine writing to butchery, which humanized the narrative and was quite scandalous – an affair here, being fired from a job there, abandoning her partner of many years to take up with another man. Quite the raconteur, this meat-loving lady.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This book was unexpected and I kind of loved it from page one. I had no idea who Camas Davis was going into it, but essentially Killing It is the story of love, butchery, and the circuitous route meat takes to our dinner table, but also the circuitous route one takes in finding oneself. I've read a lot of books about the ethics of eating meat, so this one didn't really teach me anything particularly new, but I enjoyed the lens through which Camas told her story: writer, feminist, ex-vegetarian. This book was unexpected and I kind of loved it from page one. I had no idea who Camas Davis was going into it, but essentially Killing It is the story of love, butchery, and the circuitous route meat takes to our dinner table, but also the circuitous route one takes in finding oneself. I've read a lot of books about the ethics of eating meat, so this one didn't really teach me anything particularly new, but I enjoyed the lens through which Camas told her story: writer, feminist, ex-vegetarian. The parts in Gascony were particularly beautiful, especially the idea that a cook or butcher cannot simply translate a recipe from one culture to another, it must be reassessed and adapted for the ingredients available in one's own culture. Honestly, I could have done with a little less about her messy love life though. [Audiobook is narrated by the author, and, although this is sometimes a mistake, she did a good job]

  27. 4 out of 5

    CC

    DNF. Non-fiction. A woman from Oregon, disheartened after losing her magazine job, moves to France on a whim to study the art of butchering. I gave it a hundred pages and found I didn't want to get back to it, so I'll let this one go. I'm usually eager to read non-fiction set in France, so that and the book's awesome cover were the initial appeal. However, I simply found this too self-indulgent. I knew I was in trouble when, by page 11, she mentioned her airplane seatmate exclaimed she was "bea DNF. Non-fiction. A woman from Oregon, disheartened after losing her magazine job, moves to France on a whim to study the art of butchering. I gave it a hundred pages and found I didn't want to get back to it, so I'll let this one go. I'm usually eager to read non-fiction set in France, so that and the book's awesome cover were the initial appeal. However, I simply found this too self-indulgent. I knew I was in trouble when, by page 11, she mentioned her airplane seatmate exclaimed she was "beautiful," and then went on to say that "a different woman would've found that flattering, but she did not." Well, sure you did, you went to all the trouble to include it the book, for pete's sake. 3 stars for that cover, though. :) (Having awful luck with books lately -- this is the fifth book in a row I haven't finished for lack of interest. Ugh.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    I hesitated about reading because I feared it would describe the horrors of the meat producing industry in this country. Instead I found it thought provoking- the complex truths about the killing of an animal for consumption, the intensity of feelings the debate evokes in people. I hope the movement Ms Davis is a part that brings a respectful attitude to the taking of life continues to flourish in this country. I’m happy to learn that women are in the middle of this movement. It can’t help but I hesitated about reading because I feared it would describe the horrors of the meat producing industry in this country. Instead I found it thought provoking- the complex truths about the killing of an animal for consumption, the intensity of feelings the debate evokes in people. I hope the movement Ms Davis is a part that brings a respectful attitude to the taking of life continues to flourish in this country. I’m happy to learn that women are in the middle of this movement. It can’t help but become more humane with their participation. And thanks to all the men and women in the cause. As for myself I continue to look to other sources of protein, regretting I may never get to taste the meats Camas describes in the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Talk about taking a sideways turn in your life! Davis actually did what a lot of us might occasionally think about- take off for France. I have to admit being a butcher is not high on my personal list of life goals but more power to her for doing it. This is a well written memoir that should not be dismissed as an "eat, pray, love" competitor. Davis has a lot to say about the culture of meat (I know!), feminism, how women are treated in what remains a male dominated area, and herself. Some of th Talk about taking a sideways turn in your life! Davis actually did what a lot of us might occasionally think about- take off for France. I have to admit being a butcher is not high on my personal list of life goals but more power to her for doing it. This is a well written memoir that should not be dismissed as an "eat, pray, love" competitor. Davis has a lot to say about the culture of meat (I know!), feminism, how women are treated in what remains a male dominated area, and herself. Some of the self examination and some of the details of butchery might be a bit much but that's what the memoir is about. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. This is informative and entertaining.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Phil Richman

    Like a perfectly cooked burger loaded with all of my favorite fixings I found the book easy to devour. Davis seems to have cracked the code on filling the broad gap between what we Americans put in our mouths (too often with comfort and ease) and the long and always challenging journey that food takes to reach it's destination. Her experience and creative writing combine with her humility, wisdom and broad introspection to create a delicious masterpiece of reading. Thinking so critically about m Like a perfectly cooked burger loaded with all of my favorite fixings I found the book easy to devour. Davis seems to have cracked the code on filling the broad gap between what we Americans put in our mouths (too often with comfort and ease) and the long and always challenging journey that food takes to reach it's destination. Her experience and creative writing combine with her humility, wisdom and broad introspection to create a delicious masterpiece of reading. Thinking so critically about meat and it's creation left me to think more deeply about what I'll put in my mouth next and how it got there. Read this book, then pass me the salad please!

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