Falling in Love Again with Butchers
Meat-isans: As a culture, we've portrayed butchers as scary, we've thought of them as sexy. Today at Civil Eats, Kathryn Quanbeck makes an argument for butchers as necessary, even as they're seriously endangered. Quanbeck suggests that whole-animal butchery is essential for a rational ― as opposed to a ravaging industrial ― food system. Quanbeck:
Gone are the days when supermarkets and butcher shops actually had skilled butchers on staff to help costumers with their questions and to suggest new cuts or preparation methods. Consolidation and vertical integration in the meatpacking industry led to the rise of "boxed beef," retail cuts sealed in plastic and packed in cardboard boxes. Instead of shipping carcasses from packing plants to retailers, plants began offering display case ready cuts. This development allowed retailers to cut costs on labor and time, and purchase more of the cuts their customers liked without having to market the entire animal.As remedy, she presents Chris Arentz and David Budworth of Avedano's Meats in Bernal (after the jump):
As a trained butcher, Arentz spoke about the satisfaction he feels by selling the whole animal, rather than just marketing the most popular cuts. "It takes a lot of work to raise an animal from birth to death," Arentz said. "Being a butcher, the ultimate respect I can pay to the animal is not to waste any part. That would be a waste of not only the animal, but also the farmer's work, time and energy that went into raising it."Once, on a cross-continent drive, my boyfriend and I made a late-night motel stop in some bleak Nebraska town ― site, we were to find out, of a sprawling IBP beef-processing plant.
As we picked our way along a town road to get to the glaring motel sign up ahead, we realized we were in the middle of a shift change: workers ― Central American guys, by the looks of things ― in hairnets and smocks, trudging back to their housing. they were factory workers, not butchers, men who could've been assembling TVs or toaster ovens, except that none of those things are made in the U.S. Next day, when we could see the dust and the bleakness of that town, the huge factory buildings low against the hills, the burgers looking up at us from their plates in the coffee shop seemed downright poisoned.
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