On February 9th, 14 people gathered at the Conscious Carnivore (http://www.conscious-carnivore.com/) on University Avenue in Madison to learn about the history and practices of the business from owner Bartlett Durand.
We were greeted at the large community table, next to a sunny window, with fruit, croissants, coffee, and seasonal cheddar cheese (Spring and Winter) from Otter Creek Organic Farm (http://www.ottercreekorganicfarm.com/).
The cheeses started off the discussion. Otter Creek is owned and operated by Bartlett’s father-in-law, Gary Zimmer. It is a sustainable, organic, pastured dairy farm. We discussed the nuances of flavor that change with the seasons, the grasses, the fat content of the milk.
The philosophy behind Conscious Carnivore is “Respect for every animal, on four feet or two”. CC sources meat from small Wisconsin and Iowa farms. They are rated as Organic, Grass fed, or Grandpa’s Way—relating back to how family farms were run before industrialization. Bartlett doesn’t shy away from any questions or discussions. Many regular customers stopped in during our visit. It is a convivial atmosphere that harkens back to when shopkeepers knew all their customers by name. The large table serves as a gathering space as well. Beer and wine are available, as is coffee. You can sit and sip and talk with friends. There are baskets of toys and coloring books for children as well.
Another tenet of the business is that nothing goes to waste. A popular sausage from Black Earth Meats (http://www.blackearthmeats.com/), the Offal Tasty is also available at the shop. There are meats brined and ready for crockpots as well, but no prepared foods. The shop offers a variety of classes, and always has recipes on hand or advice on how to prepare the different cuts of meat.