The first time I butchered a deer on my kitchen counter I learned some really important things, among them that I needed more space. Truthfully, the idea for Feral came about way before I started trimming venison cuts in my house.
These days it isn’t hard to find local, organic produce in Austin. But meat poses a different challenge than fruits and vegetables. With meat there are issues around ethics, treatment, and diet and whether the animals are free range, hormone free, or cage free? And when meat does fit all your personal criteria, the cost is far from free.
Years ago, as I was trying to find more sustainable sources of meat, I realized I already had it. An Austin native, I’d been hunting the Hill Country all my life, but I’d also been using game processors all those years. In my experience game processors are good, hard-working families trying to make a living, but for me commercial processing was missing the point: why take meat from the ultimate natural source and then mix it with industrial grown pork or beef from the other side of the country? And what about the rest of the animal? I wondered where the stock bones were going, for instance.
Wild game is a natural fit for a diet focused on locally sourced, healthy foods. I think of it as eating within the ecosystem instead of on top of it. And processing it yourself creates an even closer connection to your food. You know how it was killed, you can break it down just the way you want it, and you know exactly what’s in your sausage and your stock.
So I taught myself to butcher and process. Most of it I learned from books and the internet, but I also took classes when I could find affordable ones. Slowly, I bought the equipment. And I practiced at home in our kitchen feeling lucky that I had a large counter and a very understanding vegetarian wife. We both knew I needed a workspace, and I figured I wasn’t the only one out there. I imagined there were plenty of people who would try it out if they had the space and the guidance to do it. And that’s how Feral happened.
We want to be a community resource that will provide value to anyone who is butchering or processing their own meats. If you are new to it, we can help you through the learning curve. If you’re already butchering and processing, come use our space and equipment. Schedule a visit, see what we’ve got going on—it’s way easier than butchering on your kitchen counter, trust me!