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Camas Davis: Educating the Carnivores

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Photos by: Tim Jackson


A woman butcher is unexpected. What’s more interesting is the how and why this woman became a butcher. It wasn’t for shock and awe—it was for herself. We all have a secret, double-side that wants to come out, but is often too afraid of the risks involved. Camas Davis took the risk. She took it because her other cards didn’t play out as planned. And sometimes, that’s when life brings out the best in us.

You're probably aware of the ethical debate surrounding factory meat farming. It is hideous. For many, it’s easy to turn a blind eye and ignore how that juicy burger you’re biting into came to be such a perfectly round patty, topped with cheese on a toasted bun. For some, the knee-jerk reaction is to cut all meat out of your diet and swear to a be a vegetarian. I’ve been there and happily lived it for eight years. At the time, missing meat was worth it because I thought I was doing my part to prevent unethical meat farming. I was wrong.


The irony in vegetarian “meat” is that it’s cloaked and marketed to resemble real meat – ever wondered why no one has ever invented a process for turning ribeyes into tofu? That’s because it tastes good; real meat is what humans are supposed to eat. So, it’s no surprise that even vegetarians strive to satisfy their instinctual desires. After being a vegetarian for several years, I finally learned what ethical eating was all about.

Davis is repairing the knowledge deficit.

She has been practicing the art of ethical, whole-animal butchering since 2009. In her latest memoir, Killing It, Davis transitions from a Portland magazine editor to pursuing her secret passion as a butcher. Diving in head first, she traveled to France to learn first-hand about processing animals from start to finish. She then returned to the states and shared her passion by founding the Portland Meat Collective and the Good Meat Project (formerly the Meat Collective Alliance).

Killing It Camas Davis

Davis brought her newly-learned, transparent butchering knowledge to Portland, Oregon by means of the Portland Meat Collective. Her grassroots efforts quickly morphed into a movement, which led to the founding of the Good Meat Project. The Good Meat Project is a 501c3 nonprofit that hosts educational classes geared to inform “everyone along the food chain—from consumers to chefs to butchers and farmers—how to utilize and appreciate the whole animal and bring local, humane meat to the table…”

“It’s interesting to watch a hunter from a rural area with more conservative political beliefs sit next to an urban, 20-something hipster who knows nothing at all about food systems, and cut up a pig together,” said Davis. “Both of them are grappling with the task in their own way, but at the end of the day, everyone is just learning how to butcher a dead animal. It’s very equalizing.”


Davis’ book launch of Killing It is happening now. Killing It hits shelves and Ebook devices on July 24th, and Davis will be at Powell’s City of Books for a reading. Tune into the Fresh Air podcast with Terry Gross, where Davis discusses Killing It. On August 5th, her book launch party is being held at The Nightwood, in Portland Oregon.

While we don't anticipate a herd of NPR listeners coming over to our side of the firearms and hunting debate, at least we can all share a table and agree on the merits of great food. And who knows, in these divisive times we may find common ground with our fellow Americans from all walks of life.

Learn more about this Meat Collective Maven, in Issue 2 of CARNIVORE, hitting stands August 24th.

Find Killing It:

Follow Camas Davis on:

Portland Meat Collective:

The Good Meat Project:

The Portland Meat Collective from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

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