June 19-23, 2017
Faculty: Mary Lake, with Yadidya Greenberg, Dawood Yasin, Caroline Abels, Alan Goldberg and Guest Lecture by Temple Grandin”
This course explores ways to safely, ethically, and humanely bring our livestock from the field to the table. The sessions combine presentations, dialog, and debate with observational slaughter and hands-on butchery of several species of livestock. We will explore some traditions that have provided a framework for understanding and carrying out the slaughter of animals to meet our needs, including perspectives from Jewish, Muslim, and Zen Buddhist presenters. Over the course of five days, students will respectfully observe several on-farm slaughters, participate in the butchery of animal carcasses, and engage in lectures and discussion of the ethical questions surrounding our choices to consume meat. Students will learn from a skilled itinerant slaughterer who travels to the farms where animals were raised to do her work, eliminating dislocation and minimizing stress at the end of an animal’s life. We will watch this deeply respectful expert perform solemn tasks, learn about her methods, and hear why she is called to this work. Additionally, this course highlights slaughter and butchery from two major religious traditions, Judaism and Islam. We will spend a day on shechita (kosher slaughter) and Jewish understandings of the human-animal relationship. We will also study halal, Islamic laws pertaining to animal consumption, and differences in halal practices over time and at varying scales. These sessions are designed to give a deeper understanding of faith-based approaches to using animals for human sustenance. Finally, we will attend to the health benefits of ethically raised, grass-fed meat and learn techniques for cooking this good meat well, maximizing both nourishment and enjoyment. We will work with hogs, lambs, poultry, and other livestock from field to freezer.
The class will also feature a half-day Master Class with Dr. Temple Grandin, animal scientist, researcher, and author of several award-winning books on animal behavior and management, including the recently released Temple Grandin’s Guide to Working with Farm Animals: Safe, Humane Livestock Handling Practices for the Small Farm. Grandin will apply her groundbreaking approach to decoding animal behavior to small farms, identifying and addressing the special needs and challenges of these livestock operations. Grandin’s fascinating explanations of how herd animals think—describing their senses, fears, instincts, and memories— and methods for analyzing their behavior will help you understand humane livestock slaughter and facility design.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Prerequisites: This course is intended for farmers and others interested in processing their own animals for meat, and for consumers who want to know more about the meat they eat and how it gets to their table. It may also appeal to folks engaged in slaughter or butchery who would like to expand their knowledge, delve into the ethics of meat consumption, or explore new markets in kosher and halal processing.
Tuition & Fees: $1250 covers the cost of the instruction, field trips, most course materials, three meals per day from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen, and ground transportation between class locations. Not included are airport transfers or accommodations; please let us know if we can assist you with finding or providing these.
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60 per night with a private bathroom and $50 per night with shared bathroom access. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic, dormitory-style housing that is clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis. Please visit our accommodations page for more options.
Need more details before you can register? Let us know!
Mary Lake: Mary Lake is a shearer, butcher, and shepherd based in Tunbridge, Vermont. She travels the Northeast, shearing and trimming hooves of sheep and goats. She is a former full-time butcher at The Royal Butcher, where she slaughtered and cut meat. Now, she is an itinerant on-farm slaughterer for hire processing sheep, goats, pigs and small bovines. Lake works with the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association to promote healthy and efficient sheep and goat production. She raises sheep for breed stock, meat, sheepskins, and fleece.
Yadidya Greenberg: Yadidya Greenberg serves as the Kosher Meat & Animal Welfare Specialist at the Jewish Initiative for Animals, where he works to help increase access to and popularity of higher welfare kosher meat products. He teaches about his experience as a shochet and animal advocate to audiences throughout the United States.
Dawood Yasin currently works as the Director of Student Affairs and coordinates learning outside the classroom at Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States. He is also in the process of completing his graduate thesis at Dartmouth on “Ethical Challenges of Industrial Meat Production with Regard to Islamic Law.” During his time in residence at Dartmouth, Dawood served as the Muslim Life and Service Trips Coordinator and provided spiritual and religious support, offered educational seminars, and led congregational prayers for Muslim students and residents of the greater Hanover area. Yasin works to foster understanding and dialogue among diverse campus groups by building and maintaining interfaith relations. During his residence in South Africa, Yasin converted to Islam and then spent five years in Damascus studying Arabic, Islam, and spirituality. Upon completion of his studies, he relocated to New Haven, CT where he served as Imam of Masjid Al-Islam. While in New Haven, he also worked as a teaching assistant and engaged in research at Yale University. Yasin also served as Director of Outreach at the Zayed Center for Islamic Culture in the United Arab Emirates, engaging in public speaking within U.A.E. and abroad, emphasizing ethics and tolerance between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Dawood spent four summers from 2008-2011 teaching Level I Arabic at the Zaytuna Summer Arabic Intensive.
Caroline Abels is a journalist, essayist, and editor focusing on issues related to local agriculture and the humane treatment of farm animals. From 2007 to 2017, she was the editor of the quarterly magazine Vermont’s Local Banquet, which covers local food and farming issues. In 2011, she launched Humaneitarian, a website that inspires people to find and eat humanely raised meat. She is a regular contributor to Civil Eats, writing primarily about ethical meat production. Abels has worked on a variety of livestock farms in Vermont and on an English sheep farm during lambing season. She lives in central Vermont, where she recently raised a handful of her own plucky lambs.
Alan Goldberg, Ph.D.: Dr. Goldberg is a professor of Toxicology at Johns Hopkins and the Founding Director (emeritus) of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing. He is also a Principal on the Berman Institute Global Food Ethics Policy Program. In 2007, he was appointed to the Pew Commission on the Impact of Industrial Farm Animal Production. This was the stimulus for his interest in ethical food issues. Dr. Goldberg has served in several administrative positions at Johns Hopkins. He was the Associate Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Director of the Division of Toxicology, and an Associate Dean for 15 years at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. As a Dean, he was responsible for research with specific responsibility for technology transfer, conflicts of interest, and working with the private Sector. Dr. Goldberg actively serves on the IACUC of the Fresh Water Institute, and has served on the International Animal Welfare Advisory Boards of Shell and Procter & Gamble. In the non-profit area, he was a trustee of the Humane Society University and a member of the Advisory Board of Faculty for the Department of Institutional Review Ethics and Administration in Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Graduate School for Life, The Catholic University of Korea, (South Korea). Starting in 2007, Dr. Goldberg served as a Pew Commissioner on the study of the impact of industrial (US) farm animal production, on issues of public health, environment, animal welfare, and social justice. While on the commission, Dr. Goldberg studied with the Talmudic Scholar Rabbi Avram Reisner to learn the Jewish laws dealing with food animal production. At the request of the Committee on Jewish Law of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, he shared his understandings of farm animal welfare. Dr. Goldberg also chaired the management board of Orange House Partnership, a Belgian NGO dedicated to provide training on food safety to the developing world. He is the author of more than 150 scientific articles and editor of numerous books.
Temple Grandin: An expert on animal behavior, Dr. Temple Grandin has designed humane handling systems for half the cattle-processing facilities in the US, and consults with the meat industry to develop animal welfare guidelines. As PETA wrote when awarding her a 2004 Proggy: “Dr. Grandin’s improvements to animal-handling systems found in slaughterhouses have decreased the amount of fear and pain that animals experience in their final hours, and she is widely considered the world’s leading expert on the welfare of cattle and pigs.” In 2010, Time Magazine listed her as one of its most Important People of the Year. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.