Watching the Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Butchering

This piece first appeared as “What to Watch at San Francisco’s Jewish Film Fest” on The Jew and the Carrot blog at the Forward.

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If you’re very squeamish, or if you believe that Jews should eat only kosher food, then the film “Meat Hooked!” is not for you. Otherwise, you’ll find it an interesting cinematic study on the renaissance of the art of (non-kosher) butchering.

Filmgoers will have a chance to catch a screening of the 2012 documentary as part of a food-focused film marathon at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on March 9. The other films to be shown are Trever Graham’s “Make Hummus Not War” and Ari A. Cohen’s “Falafel! Give Peas a Chance.”

Of late, there has been plenty of talk about organic and sustainable farming, pasture-raised cattle, and nose-to-tail restaurant cooking, but few of us actually watch how an animal gets from the field to the plate. “Meat Hooked!” provides more than just a passing glance at the process. It ain’t a pretty sight, but it’s eye-opening in many ways — not only for what we learn about how a carcass is carved up, but also about what drives certain people to want to wield a cleaver day in and day out.

“This is a film about meat. And about the rise and fall and rise again of butchers and butchering,” says director Suzanne Wasserman in the voiceover for the introduction to the film. Wasserman is director of the Gotham Center for New York City History and an expert on the history of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Click here to read more and watch the trailer.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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