“What's a Meat Collective?”
A Meat Collective is a one-of-a-kind meat school and community resource that offers hands-on classes to consumers in whole-animal butchery, cookery, and charcuterie. For each Meat Collective class, local farmers sell whole animals to students who in turn learn from seasoned butchers and chefs how to transform a whole carcass into food. Students go home with a lot of good, clean, fair meat and increasingly rare knowledge. Chefs and butchers share their craft. And farmers sell directly to consumers who support humane and sustainable farming practices. The result? A growing community of informed omnivores who are inspired to eat meat more responsibly and to support a more responsible meat production system.
The Meat Collective Movement
The Chicago Meat Collective is not the only Meat Collective in the country. We are part of a growing movement. The very first Meat Collective was founded in 2010 in Portland, Oregon. In 2014, the Portland Meat Collective’s founder, Camas Davis, launched a nonprofit, the Good Meat Project, with the mission to inspire responsible meat production and consumption through experiential education. One of the programmatic goals of the Good Meat Project is to spread the Meat Collective model to other communities. As such, the Good Meat Project helped the Chicago Meat Collective to launch and succeed. While the Chicago Meat Collective is its own business entity, we work closely with the Good Meat Project and the other Meat Collectives around the country to achieve the same mission. To find out who the other Meat Collectives are around the country, or to find out what it how to start your own Meat Collective in your community, go here.
Keep Meat Real. It’s our motto because it’s our philosophy. A shared education in humane slaughter and whole-animal butchery, cookery, and charcuterie provides an effective path to rethinking our food system.
Our founder, McCullough Kelly-Willis, was first exposed to whole animal butchery and the concept of sustainable meat in 2013, while at Reed College in Portland, OR. She signed up for basic pig butchery with the Portland Meat Collective on a whim, and she was hooked.
In the summer of 2013 she moved from Portland to Chicago, and decided to find a way to continue learning about whole animal butchery, which led to a six month stage at The Butcher&Larder. After coming on full time in 2014, she continued honing her butchery skills and learning about the wide world of charcuterie.
When The Butcher&Larder joined Local Foods in 2015, she began working on the dry curing program, doing months of research and development and making some pretty delicious salami and whole muscle cures along the way.
McCullough now heads the Chicago Meat Collective in the hopes of continuing her own education and creating a wider community of conscious meat consumers here in Chicago.