Butchers Block Etiquette I
Except for a few brief periods of experimentation, I have consumed meat through out my whole life.
Up until now, (except for a few brief periods of experimentation of a different type,) the meat I’ve consumed has been purchased in a grocery store.
There are a lot of reasons why people buy meat from the grocery store. Price, convenience and availability are the big three in my book.
Over the past few years, having become completely responsible for feeding myself (and my boyfriend who burns water) I have been purchasing my meat, from my local market which I love and am always down to support.
But after a few instances where my meat has spoiled during a too short stay in the fridge, I knew that I needed to make a change.
I don’t remember the intricacies of eating me when I was younger, but I do know that behind me and my hunt for better meat, there is the discontented grumblings of a thousand other people saying that ‘The meat isn’t as good as it used to be.”
Now could this be the standard nostalgia glasses that we apply to all foods we ate when we were younger? Maybe. But too many of the complaints fall in line with what I have experienced so I think it deserves to be heard out.
Sometimes the meat is slimy and sometimes it has an extra layer of fat where there shouldn’t be. Sometimes its a horribly strange texture and sometimes it goes off very quickly.
I wanted to find a solution. The first experiment I conducted was a horrifyingly expensive foray with Whole Foods. Buying meat that is certified to be a higher quality is complicated, because there are about half a dozen different certifications to denote that higher quality, and they don’t all overlap or even agree with each other.
All in all, I was still buying grocery store meat (from WF and from a few smaller specialty food stores) and I found that the chicken breasts were still a bit waterlogged and the pork was still slimy and if you really want to get into it, the meat was still packaged in alternative atmosphere packaging and there was still a lot of Styrofoam and plastic.
Also the more I infiltrated this community of people buying meat at this socioeconomic level, the more I heard them talk about how it has declined in quality over the last decade or two.
This let me know that what the animals are eating and how they are being raised isn’t the thing that is creating this weird textural phenomena.
So then what is it?
It finally hit me that regardless of how well you treat an animal during it’s life, how you handle it’s meat postmortem is going to have an enormous effect on how enjoyable and how correct and how how quality and probably how nutritious and wholesome the meat will actually be for you.
I stopped buying grocery store meat completely.
And I went to a butcher.
I can honestly say that doing this has changed my life. Just the chicken alone is so much more flavorful and dense. There’s no slime and there’s no waterlogged taste. And I’m completely sure that this has everything to do simply with the freshness of the meat and the way it’s handled.
You shouldn’t have a problem finding a butcher in most big cities that will honor and coordinate with your preferences of certifications, religious preparations, and most of all cost. But regardless of what those are, I highly recommend that you make the move from meat that has been cut, packaged and allowed to sit for a minimum of 3 days, and the meat at your butchers counter that stays pink in natural air simply because of how fresh it is.
I have two blogs coming up next. One dedicated to what you should be looking for in a butcher, and one focusing on what you need to be willing to bring to your interaction with a butcher if you want to truly get the most out of this new relationship.