We are having a lasting effect on our planet by eating – and wasting – meat. We are slowly killing our environment with the livestock we raise. We don’t have to become vegetarian to solve this problem, but we can be more cautious of where we get our meats. The perfect eco-friendly and economical solution to our meat fiasco is buying from artisan butchers who get animals from local, privately-owned farms.
According to Dr. Michael Mosley of BBC, our meat consumption is expected to double in the next 40 years. This increase will lead to more butchered animals. Raising more animals will damage our environment, especially in greenhouse gas. One cow can release up to 500 liters (or roughly 130 gallons) of methane gas, and this gas is “25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” as stated by Mosley. This is a great devastation to our planet.
Manure is also a huge pollutant in massive factory farms. On the other hand, according to Grace Communications Foundation, manure can be used for other reasons on smaller-scale farms. Buying locally also helps reduce pollution caused by transportation, whether that meat would travel from coast-to-coast or nation-to-nation. Also, buying only grass-fed meat helps because those animals produce less waste, as stated by Time writer Bryan Walsh. Thus, demanding local meats from artisanal butchers and fading factory farms out will vastly improve our environment.
Artisan butchers also know how to use as much of the animals as possible. In other words, instead of cutting the most popular slabs of meat, they take the time to carefully cut all meat off the animal and also save more unconventional parts. According to Michael Ruhlman, the supermarkets butcher animals as quickly as possible by sectioning off the meat into rectangles. However, we all know animals are not perfect squares. Artisan butchers are precise, and cut the animals in the best way possible to preserve every bit of meat they can, and this helps you go green and reduce waste. Doing so reduces the shop’s waste and also helps them use less animals.
This also allows shops to offer more variety in their meat products. Therefore, going to an artisan butcher can be very affordable, depending on the cut. Buying from these butcher shops cut out excessive costs that you would pay to supermarkets. At Meat Hook, an artisan butcher shop in Brooklyn, NY, they offer a variety of cuts at a good price.
“We can offer cuts you never see in a supermarket,” butcher Brent Young said to Florence Fabricant of The New York Times. “Cheap cuts. Customers on a budget come in asking for ideas, they want other options.”
These shops are also locally owned and operated, so the butchers connect with customers personally. Unlike large supermarkets, the workers at artisan butcher shops have the opportunity to strike up conversation and make their guests feel welcome. They can also help depending on your situation and what meats you desire. Some artisanal butchers will even help with the preparation of the meat. The employees at Meat Hook make sure to meet these expectations.
“Here, you can have a conversation with a human being, and I can tell you that every transaction is different,” Young said to Fabricant.
These shops also get their meats from local farms. According to Food and Cooking, this avoids paying the price for transportation, whether across the nation or the world. Buying locally also improves your community because it keeps those farms thriving. Keeping these farms in your community will help the local economy. This also ensures that the meat source is sustainable.
According to Adriana Velez of Civil Eats, Jessica and Joshua Applestone, of Kingston, NY, opened their own butcher shop to feel a void in their neighborhood. Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats offers carefully-butchered, locally-grown meat. Like many other artisanal butchers, the Applestones have a very strict guideline when it comes to buying animals. For instance, their animals must be on a pasture their whole life, and they must be killed within a few hours of travel time from the farm. They buy animals that are only treated well because they realize its impact on their customers.
Mr. Applestone told Velez, “…we realize that every bite of food we consume affects the animal from which it came, the farmer who raised that animal, the environment, and our health… we never forget that animals die for our business and your dinner.”
Applestone is spot on with that statement – our food just doesn’t disappear after we eat it. The effects of our consumption live on. Thinking of farming, butchering, and eating as a cycle shows how closely we are all connected. This feeds into the popularity of organic foods and treating animals ethically. Due to this trend, artisan butchering is one of the fasting growing topics as noted by the National Restaurant Association. It keeps climbing the charts, proving that more and more people are falling in love with eating locally-grown, organic animals.
Artisan butchers began fading away due to corporate marketplaces, but they have come back in style. Today, there are numerous privately-owned butcher shops in cities across the nation. However, the new shops might not have the same old-time feel of its previous counterparts. Forbes Travel Guide stated that “old-school butcher shops are back – some with a new twist.” Now, many artisan butchers offer classes and parties to teach the public their trade. On the other hand, restaurants are now installing their own butcher shops to get the freshest meats possible. This helps broaden the uses of butcher shops, and will help them stay around longer.
Artisan butchers may be a trend now, but it should become a permanent staple in the culinary field. If more people used these locally-owned shops, then our carbon footprint would shrink vastly. Also, buying meat from artisan butchers is economical, for you and your community.
You are more in control when buying locally than from factory farms. Not only will this prove you and your company as caring and compassionate for the world, but it will also impress with your guests and customers. So, instead of ordering meat from a factory farm, seek out a local artisanal butcher. They will surely give you a higher quality meat, and you will find comfort knowing that you are buying from a sustainable and eco-friendly resource.