Food activist and writer Marissa Guggiana, president of Sonoma Direct Sustainable Meats in Petaluma, California, a company her family has run for 50 years, is a champion of the art of butchery. Her first book, Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers, explored a new generation’s rekindled passion for old-world techniques. To further nurture professional and ethical standards, including community involvement and the humane care of livestock, Guggiana teamed up with San Francisco butcher and chef, Tia Harrison of Avedano’s Butcher Shop & Market and Sociale restaurant, to unveil The Butcher’s Guild. This national trade organization unites artisans of integrity devoted to sustainable agriculture methods and whole animal butchery, offering support and education, and a refreshing departure from the country’s flawed industrial meat system.
“The application process signifies they are real butchers: they cut meat, they don’t put meat from an animal that was given steroids on a Midwestern factory farm out on a shelf,” explains Guggiana. “They care about the animals and are keeping the craft alive.” Guggiana is a realist when it comes to production. While she realizes “we’re never going to be able to feed the world in a boutique manner,” she is hopeful that growing awareness will create pressure among centralized forces to treat animals better: “Butchers are a vital link to keeping local food systems working.”
Soon, enthusiastic consumers, too, can partake in The Butcher’s Guild with annual memberships. thebutchersguild.org