Ever since the first time I met Ben Meyer, I've wanted to write a story about his passion for local food systems. Today you can read my story about him in The Oregonian.
The first thing to note about Ben Meyer is not his polite Midwestern manners, his oh-so-Portland uniform of stocking cap, flannel shirt and scruffy beard or that he's opened two restaurants in what were then—and still are, to some extent—underserved areas of the city. It's not even that he's been interviewed by the likes of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal wanting to hear about the local pasture-raised beef and pork he features on his menus and in the butcher case.
The key to Meyer is that this evangelist for whole animal butchery, whose walk-in is chock-full of large cuts of dry-aged beef, some as old as 80 days, spent 10 years as a vegan. Growing up in northern Indiana, he said all he knew was industrial agriculture.
"I grew up surrounded by hogs and soy and corn in the Midwest—northeastern Indiana—and basically saw nothing but factory farms, never thought there was anything different," he said.
Already politically active, he became a vegan because he didn't want to support a food system he saw as intrinsically unhealthy for himself, the environment or society. A move to an organic farm on the lush agricultural land of Washington's Vashon Island was eye-opening, and his preconceived notion of what a healthy food system looked like was blown out of the water.
Read the rest of the article, titled "At Old Salt Marketplace, chef Ben Meyer makes whole animal butchery his primary mission," to find out what turned Meyer from a full-time vegan to an evangelist for sustainable, accessible local food systems.