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Notebook on Cities and Culture S2E24: Every Part of the Pig with Camas Davis

Colin Marshall sits down in Portland’s Pearl District with Camas Davis, food writer and founder of the Portland Meat Collective. They discuss why bacon has hit the zeitgeist so hard; her interest in fostering an “alternative economy of meat”; her former career writing travel pieces, which invariably and instinctively became food pieces; her education in the “meta-meta theoretical” exploration of food; how meat became cool again, after industrialization made it uncool (and not particularly tasty); her agreement with even the hardest-core animal-rights vegan about the horrors of industrial meat production; growing up in Eugene, where if you weren’t vegetarian, you weren’t cool; her return from vegetarianism to the meat-eating fold with a bacon meal while teaching in a women’s prison; how American got itself into an entitlement mentality about cheap meat thrice a day; the importance of killing animals we eat ourselves, and how she finds some people are better at it than others; her time studying in southwestern France, what exactly separates French eating culture from American, and how the French are just getting into some of what has made American food unpalatable in recent decades; all the surprising things you can do with a pig’s head; Portland’s food consciousness and food renaissance, and how they might serve as a bellwether for a countrywide shift in attitudes about eating; Portland’s suspicion of eateries that get “too big for their britches,” which results in a certain elevated-comfort-food trademark cuisine; her butchery classes, in which she’s found far fewer obnoxious hipster foodies enrolling than she’d expected; our rightful fear of most meat, and the meat we need not be scared of; and whether America has many small food movements, or one big food movement.

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