Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg grabbed a lot of headlines last week when he told an interviewer he had decided to forego for a year eating animals that he doesn’t kill and prepare himself. A goat, a pig, and a chicken have already succumbed to his butcher’s knife, he said.

That inspired The Butchers’ Guild, a Bay Area-based network of “sustainably-minded butchers and eaters” to issue Zuckerberg a public invitation to join them.

Marissa Guggiana, co-founder of the guild and author of the book Primal Cuts, lauds Zuckerberg for joining the slaughtering ranks.

“It was amazing to us that he had made that decision and we just wanted to celebrate it and comment on it,” she said. “In working on my book, I spent a lot of time talking to home cooks about where their protein comes from and getting closer to the source, but it remains very niche-y. I hope that someone outside of the food community being committed to this will put a spotlight on it that will be exciting or enlightening for other people. It’s just as much an environmental issue and a health issue as it is a taste or gourmet obsession. “

But while a moneybags like Mark Zuckerberg might be able to find the time, money and space to slaughter and butcher an animal, and to store the final product, I suggested, mightn’t the average Bay Area meat eater find the process daunting? Guggiana said when it comes to being more conscious about where your meat comes, you don’t necessarily have to go whole hog.

“I live in a tiny apartment myself and I don’t have a chest freezer with a whole pig in it in the garage,” she said. “That’s not the only way to do this. If you go in with some friends or neighbors and get a whole animal and share it, then you can have the butcher bring it to you, and they’ll divide it up into parts that you can recognize, and you can throw it in your freezer. Then you won’t have to buy meat at the store for many months, and…you’re paying the same price per pound for every cut of meat. Or you can join a meat-buying group, where the divvying up is done by the organization so you don’t even have to go through the ordeal of arguing over who gets the pork belly.”

“The Bay Area Meat CSA is a social networking site where you join up with a group based on your location. It has thousands of members, so a lot of people are making this decision within the constraints of having a small kitchen and probably no car. You make group decisions about what animal to buy and you share it, and the organization helps you chart the path from the farm to the table, find a slaughterhouse and a butcher to take it to.”

Guggiana said she didn’t find it difficult to keep to the practice of eating sustainably and locally, never consuming what she called “dirty meat,” except for the occasional visit to a taco truck.

Back in 2008, Lisa Morehouse of The California Report visited a butchery class in San Francisco that involved the other Butchers’ Guild co-founder, Tia Harrison. You can listen to that here.

Interview: Butchers Guild’s Marissa Guggiana on Mark Zuckerberg’s Slaughtering His Own Meat 1 June,2011Nina Thorsen


Nina Thorsen

Nina Thorsen is a KQED radio producer and director, and frequently reports on sports, food and culture.  

She co-created and produced KQED’s Pacific Time,  a weekly radio program on Asian and Asian American issues that aired from 2000 to 2007. Before coming to KQED, Thorsen was the deputy foreign editor for Marketplace.  In her home state of Minnesota, she worked for A Prairie Home Companion and for Public Radio International.  

Nina was honored by the Radio-TV News Directors Association of Northern California in 2012 for a series of stories on the Oakland A’s stadium.  She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in speech-communication. 

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