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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

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In Dining

Phil and the "Wheel of Meat" help introduce Milwaukee to Red Meat Market's online meat shop.

In Dining

Co-founder Bartlett Durand wants Red Meat Market's work to bring the lost art of butchery back to food culture.

In Dining

Meats can be ordered at their e-commerce website for delivery or pick-up at one of the Market's "meat-ups."

In Dining

Meat-ups offer drinks, apps and conversation about sustainable meat production.

From "meat-ups" to eat-ups: Red Meat Market


"Nobody Beats My Meat" reads the apron worn by the smiling mustachioed man spinning the "Wheel of Meat." His name is Phil, and he's part of the team of upbeat ministers of meat introducing Milwaukee to a brand-new online grocery concept, Red Meat Market.

The team travels from city to city, spreading the good word about local, sustainably raised and natural beef, pork and lamb products through interactive "meat-ups" that create a social learning environment for consumers to be introduced to a whole new way of viewing, purchasing and eating meat. Its website, RedMeatMarket.com, is an e-commerce site where consumers can purchase meat to be delivered directly to their homes or picked up in person at an area meat-up.

The market held its very first Milwaukee meat-up last week at Swig, 217 N. Broadway, celebrating the launch of their meat-loving community in the Cream City. The event, sponsored by Champagne Studios, Great Lakes Distillery and Lakefront Brewery, featured a selection of meaty appetizers, local beer and craft cocktails, along with a big dose of good old-fashioned social fun.

Red Meat Market is the brainchild of president and founder Mark Wilhelms and founding partner Bartlett Durand of Black Earth Meats. Wilhelms is a Wisconsin native and long-time entrepreneur with a penchant for cowboy culture. Durand is a lawyer-turned-Zen foodist, whose dedication to bringing reverence back to the art of butchery is a foundational premise of the company.

Like Red Meat Market, Black Earth is not your ordinary slaughterhouse. The sign on the slaughter floor reads "We honor these animals, for by their death we gain life." And that motto directs every action taken by the establishment.

Operating on the belief that butchery is a lost art, and that it must be done with reverence and pride, Black Earth's system is built entirely on human labor, rather than automation. Animals are purchased locally from farmers who raise them with the highest standards for humane treatment and overall quality. Each animal is handled one at a time, and all butchers are trained in every aspect of the process.

"We are looking to rebuild the butchers' guild system by training new butchers in humane handling, full-animal utilization and the full panoply of cuts," Durand explains.

"We want people working in teams, not on a production line. We want honor, respect and good living to be paramount. Ideally, we will convert the processing centers into community-owned operations – farmers, consumers and employees all owning the operation – so it becomes a community asset – good jobs supported by the local community of consumers."

Red Meat Market unites consumers who demand higher quality food bypassing the industrial food system altogether. Through creating a community of people who care about good food, they are able to step outside the normal distribution food chain and place the power of the food system back into the hands of the people.

The market aims to establish a network of butcher shops, restaurants and food carts – along with CSAs, buyers' clubs and meat-ups – where the community can go to buy good food.

"Transparency, credibility and connectivity with the providers and community is our lifeblood," says Wilhelm.

"My dream meat-up is for the room to have local meat lovers celebrating, enjoying a provider's meat, while the provider is in the room answering questions and talking with folks about it. It is almost a reverse farmers market with drinks, apps and local community!"

The Red Meat Market team's goal is to host 50 events next year in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago. Events will take the form of farm dinners, cowboy clinics, butcher parties, meat education events, chef demonstrations and more. In addition to providing entertainment and education, the events will also provide a venue for consumers to pick up meat they've purchased in advance at the Red Meat Market online store.

Are you a sustainable meat-lovin' carnivore who wants to join the Red Meat revolution? Purchase a variety of meat products and get more information about Red Meat Market and meat-ups coming to a location near you by visiting RedMeatMarket.com.

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