Each weekend, we load our truck with free-range meat and eggs and head over the Blue Ridge mountain into farmers market in Washington DC. Everyone knows that farming is a full-time commitment, and as each year recedes into memory, I sometimes wonder how we manage to get it all done.
The truth is, we couldn’t get it done without the help of our two outstanding local butcher shops. Small scale butchers play an indispensable role for local farmers; without them, getting free-range meat into stores, restaurants and markets would be nearly impossible.
But now more than ever, small-scale family-owned butcher shops are an endangered species. If we truly want to “eat local,” then these shops must remain open and prosperous. As Jedediah Purdy suggests in this recent OpEd in the New York Times, it’s time to make slaughterhouse operations transparent. I agree. Come along as I take you behind the scenes at Blue Ridge Meats, a small USDA inspected butcher shop in Front Royal, Virginia.
***Spoiler alert: Farming celebrates the circle of life, and death is a part of this cycle. If you are sensitive to images of traditional butchering practices, then this might not be your blog. However, if you are genuinely interested in knowing how small farms and local butcher shops interact, then in the name of transparency and integrity, please read on. Knowledge is power.***