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Jered Standing, owner of ethically minded butcher shop Standing’s, dies at 44

Jered Standing, of Standing's Butchery, has died at age 44.
(Katrina Frederick)
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Jered Standing, a popular L.A. butcher and a champion of ethical and sustainable meat sourcing, has died at 44. According to a report from the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner, he was found dead Feb. 22.

In 2017, Standing opened his Hancock Park shop Standing’s Butchery, which quickly became a benchmark for thoughtful sourcing as well as service. It was not uncommon to find Standing behind the counter, recommending cooking techniques for every cut in the meat case or showcasing the latest flavor in his rainbow of house-made sausages.

“He was able to impact such a large scene from one small shop,” said Kelsey Lee, wholesale sales manager of Four Star Seafood who was consulting with the butcher for a future Standing’s location. “He was largely responsible for [getting many] Los Angeles chefs [to] consider the way that they source their ingredients, and also the way that people get food into their homes. People now ask where their meat’s coming from; they ask about how many days it’s aged, what type of environment it used to live in ... I’ll never forget that he made me feel like we can be a beacon of hope for that little sector of the world that we’re representing.”

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The former vegetarian built his company on the premise of animal welfare, sourcing directly from farmers who prioritize free-range habitats, heritage breeds and all-grass diets. He exercised a zero-waste program at Standing’s that incorporated scraps, bones and other choice-cut byproducts into the likes of stocks, chili and high-quality dog food and treats.

He also taught customers the importance of closed-loop farming and other sustainable practices through intimate butchery classes at the shop and online via his social media channels.

“It became a place of education for me,” said Justin Pichetrungsi, the James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef of Anajak Thai, which was The Times’ 2022 Restaurant of the Year.

Pichetrungsi shopped at Standing’s and sought the butcher’s expertise for his own meals at home. “You don’t get many opportunities to learn those things in a transparent way ... There’s a lot of gatekeepers in the world of sourcing, and he was just not one of those. It did really bring down the wall there.”

A vertical closeup of a small memorial of flowers and white
By Monday afternoon a small memorial had begun to form outside of Jered Standing’s Los Angeles butcher shop on Melrose Avenue.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Standing’s ethos was infectious, but he wasn’t always enamored with the trade. An early job at a local grocer exposed the future butcher to factory farming and what he called “the mistreatment of animals” when raised as commodity meats — a large impetus for his years of vegetarianism.

Enacting change, he later felt, could come in the form of more conscious consumerism and allow for his own return to eating meat.

“Not eating meat doesn’t put any pressure on the industry to change like being a conscious meat eater does,” Standing told Los Angeles Magazine in 2016. “If you don’t eat meat, as a meat seller, you’re just not my customer. But if you’re buying someone else’s meat and not mine — and I’m seeing that — then the pressure’s on me to look at what I’m doing, and why you’re buying from that guy.”

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As he set out to learn more about the meat trade and proselytize a more sustainable meat system, he was sleeping in his $500 Toyota Corolla and on a friend’s couch while he found financial footing. A stint in the Whole Foods meat department helped teach him the butcher-shop basics and saw him searching through refrigerated trailers, headlamp on, to find 28- to 30-pound turkeys for customers at Thanksgiving.

He supplemented this education with shifts at Salt’s Cure and watching butchery breakdown videos on YouTube at night, until eventually he became the opening butcher for Belcampo. A few years later, he left to open his own business, Standing’s. His Melrose Avenue butcher shop became a beacon for the community, whether it was for his lauded sidewalk burger pop-ups or to help serve Los Angeles throughout the pandemic, especially as big-box retailers were running out of meat and basic pantry essentials.

Standing’s shop also helped influence a new network of local butchers.

“You’d be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about the craft of butchery and dedicated to the cause for pasture-raised meats than Jered,” said Eagle Yu, who first bonded with Standing over their mutual love of butchery over social media.

When Yu moved to Los Angeles, he became a customer of Standing’s until he had a chance to work with him directly. Yu helped at Standing’s during the pandemic and observed “first-hand how much he [Standing] cared about his co-workers and his customers.” Yu went on to open his own butchery, Meat & Essentials in San Marino, sharing many of Standing’s principles.

“Working alongside Jered reignited my spark for butchery and led directly to me deciding to open a shop of my own — a long held notion that just hadn’t found the right timing,” Yu said. “His thoughtfulness and professional courtesy throughout the opening of my own shop knew no bounds; from sources, suppliers, vendors and advice, he shared his knowledge freely and without reservation. So much so that he was the first person through the doors of my shop in 2022 on the day of our official opening.”

Standing, who died by suicide, according to the report from the county medical examiner-coroner, had many plans for the future. He had announced a Westside butcher shop and had aspirations for a restaurant, including a permanent outpost for his burger pop-up.

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“At best, I hope it’s inspirational,” he wrote of his life’s story in a 2022 Instagram post. “I remember how impossible it seemed when I first set out to open my own business. It seemed that everyone I asked about how they got started already had a bunch of money, or had a rich family member who wrote them a big check. I grew up on the free lunch program at school, and had a string of low paying jobs since I was 15.

“But, by that point, I had already seen how much really hard f— work can actually pay off. Who knew? I’m an ambitious person. As such, I spend a lot of my time focused on the future. Thinking about all that I want and don’t yet have. But occasionally I do allow myself time to look back and reflect. To see how far I’ve come.”

Suicide prevention and crisis counseling resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, seek help from a professional and call 9-8-8. The United States’ first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors. Text “HOME” to 741741 in the U.S. and Canada to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Updates

4:23 p.m. Feb. 26, 2024: This story has been updated.

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