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Do you use a butcher?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I got to wondering how many people still use a real butcher when purchasing their meat. It seems that most people are buying pre-cut, packaged meats through various supermarkets and big box stores, like Costco. So, if you use a butcher, raise your hand, and maybe tell us why you prefer buying your meat in that way.

post #2 of 39
Because the nice man does what I say, and gives me soup bones, Korean short ribs, and properly identified and wrapped other stuff. As opposed to the meatball at the supermarket that cuts it all out of the freezer, at best.
post #3 of 39
If I had one nearby, I'd certainly use it. As it is, I buy meat often from an upscale store (Sendik's in Brookfield, for you locals). There are always five or six people behind the counter cutting down primals. When I ask questions, they know the answer. They can usually get me whatever I want, even if it has to be ordered.

Luckily, the big-box grocery closest to my home (a Pick 'N Save) has three butchers who know their stuff: one of them grew up in the apartment above a butcher shop, learned the trade there, and has been at it ever since. I trust him, and the two other guys, too.

But what I wouldn't give for a top-notch butcher shop like the one my mom used to shop in!
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post #4 of 39
A friend of mine owned half of a butcher shop until very recently. I would place large orders for the freezer because her shop was over an hours drive from my house. I liked everything about it. From the white paper packages she would bring to the house grease pencil marked indicating their contents (she would deliver large orders close by, but as she is my youngest son’s god mother my orders were a good reason to drive an hour to visit.)to the flavor and general higher quality of meat. It cost more than mega-mart meat, but not prohibitively so.

I remember an enormous box of filets that I ordered for a gig, when I lifted the lid it smelled like butter. After taste testing the product it was really hard to serve it to any one else but me.:lips:

She got tired up being up to her elbows in meat and the way she smelled after work. Since a large portion of her business was deer processing, she hopes to never see another piece of deer sausage in her life.:lol:

Knowing what I do from her about the inside skinny of what goes on in local (meaning not corporate owned) small butcher shops, all I can say is make sure you trust your butcher. She had helpers come in who had worked at other older and more established meat markets that would try to do some crazy gross stuff. She wouldn’t put out anything she wouldn’t eat herself, lets just say that not all butchers do that.

I haven’t yet found somebody in my area that I trust to be my butcher, but I’m looking. So currently I am trusting mega-mart to be willing to absorb losses by tossing bad meat instead of trying to sell it to me.
post #5 of 39
I buy 1/4 grass fed organic beef from a local farm, it gets processed at a local butcher. Whe I asked if he would eat the hamburger rare he took a hunk and ate it raw. So yes I trust my butcher. :roll:
post #6 of 39
I have bought from my local butcher for over 20 years. He makes his own pies, haggis and sausages. Most of the meat he sells is sourced from his families' (3, I believe) farms just outside of the city. All the meat is organic. I also buy shredded suet from him, rather than the packet stuff.
post #7 of 39
At Costco the meat is fresh cut. The meat is sourced from the same place your butcher gets it. Believe me, your butcher isn't breaking down carcasses either.

The people at Costco and SAMS work hard just like anyone else.
post #8 of 39
I frequent our local butcher - I don't buy exclusively from him but when I'm passing by or when I need a special cut or want to be sure of excellent quality I go. the beef is always superb, the pork is good but can't say it's "more better" than the megamart.

he has a wonderful assortment of local fresh sausages not available elsewhere - they make their own so if their seasoning blend suites you, you're really in luck.

I can get things cut & trimmed as I want them, I can get three thick cut chops (vs. 2 pkgs of 2, for example)

they dry age all their beef - I can get "special services" like having him cut then dry age my holiday prime rib (in his locker) to my specs (cut & days) - etc.

the meat locker has a couple glass front small windows for storing small cuts - when he goes in to fetch something you can see entire sides of beef hanging and I have not seen a single Cryovac in his shop. I suppose it could be plastic beef hanging to impress people, but I don't think so . . .
post #9 of 39
This is where most of the meat the butcher gets comes from regardless of it being a small one man shop or several people working in a mega-mart operation.
The percentage of meat that is procurred from small organic producers is very small. Even those of us who raised grass fed animals sold them through local stockyards where they were purchased by these large CAFO's and fed commercially produced feeds.

A small niche butcher may well have the clientle that will support him buying prime graded meat. Larger supermarkets will have a larger clientle that is looking to save some money and viewing food in a much more utilitarian way. Prime graded meat is a really small percentage of the meat produced annually and is usually bought up by places like Delmonico's (I think thats the upscale steakhouse in New York)

The majority of us get choice and good graded meat to choose from.
post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 
That's just not true. Costco does not buy from the small, local ranches that my butchers get their meat from. Some of the local butchers do break down their own carcasses.

Costco buys from large producers and feedlots all over the country. The local butchers that I use here get their meat from local ranches, many use organic meats, or meat from grass fed steers. When I buy from the local butcher I know exactly which ranch the meat comes from, where and how it was processed, and can make intelligent, informed decisions about which meat I want to buy that day. And my butchers will cut primals to my specifications, and the meat is not pre-packaged.

No one said anything about how hard Costco and Sams butchers work. That's irrelevent in any case.

Frankly, I wouldn't touch a Costco or Sam's Club piece of meat, nor do I shop in those stores, although the reasons for this are not based only on how their meat is sourced or processed.

post #11 of 39
That's not entirely true either. Although I did see you edited you comments and took out the statement about the organic thing. For what it’s worth……Costco is fine source for meats (pork, beef and poultry). And they don’t prepackage things, it’s all cut right out in the open. It's minimally processed and they have good sanitation standards. They are also forthcoming with information and when asked, can and will provide the origin of the meat. This is a result of the company working with the Japanese in restablishing our industries standard for providing quality meats. Their meats are not injected, pork is pork not "always tender" and although they come from larger faciltiies from all over the country just exactly what do you think Neiman Ranch or Coleman are? Sams however is a whole different situation but they are working towards changing that at least in some markets.

The food in general at Costco is a step up. Just read some of the lables or see the diversity in products they have. Yes they sell Chef boy ardee by the case but they also sell some nice alternatives if you just look for them.

The more folks demand their foods (or more specifically meats in this case) to be from Free range, pasture grazed, etc, etc, etc options......... the larger the producer is going to have to be to supply it in a cost effective manner. Costco as well as the other two above mentioned producers have found a way to provide the meats that people are asking for. Case in point we went to our local farmers market in Petersburg Va last saturday. They had one "free range" local butcher on site. Whoooopdy dooooooo. 12.00lb ground beef, pre packaged steaks at 17.00lb all out of a cooler. Sorry but we made a bee line to costco and bought a whole piece of sirloin for me to turn into steaks. It's been a while but at 3.99lb it sure beats the 17.00lb racket.

So, what does it matter is the ranch has a herd of 200 or 200,000. It all has to be processed and packaged to be shipped.

Yes I can see the plant that handles 200 be able to provide hanging sides for processing but that's just not the case anylonger. The people that are trained or have the desire to break down a full side on location are few and far between. I have first hand knowledge of this because I worked for a year as a butcher for Publix back in the late '90's. I was hired to provide more Restaurant style cuts vs the home style that was primarily available. But that's what most people demand theses days. Restaurant style cuts. How can the smaller plant stay profitable and still provide meat at a cost effective price? It can't. That's why you see meats at the prices I mentioned above.

If you have a butcher that works for you that's great. Our butcher just happens to work for Costco.
post #12 of 39
There are many small local growers who sell direct to the public. The one I buy from offers a service by taking the animal to my butcher of choice who is also local. The meat is way better than any grocery store and considerably cheaper even after the butcher/cutting/wrapping charges. Last year I think it came to $3 a pound for grass fed organic beef. If you are in SW MN this is who I buy from moonstone :: home
post #13 of 39
Like Mezz, I buy most of my meat from the local Sendik's. I think she only shops there during the day while I'm working, because I'm keeping an eye out for her, and I never see her. I'm wondering if she really exists. :D

I, too, think Costco is pretty darn good. As good as Sendik's in most things, cheaper too, but alas, much farther away. I swear to God the boneless beef short ribs are the best I've ever had. They are marbled like prime strip steaks.

Locally, we have an upscale grocer, Grasch's, that sells only prime meat. This is by far the best in the Milwaukee area, however, $30.00+ per pound for NY strip is a little out of my league. They have about eight butchers working at all times. The meat is in a display case and most buy that way, but they will cut anything you want, all you have to do is ask. Being in a real estate related profession, I'm not buying many $30.00 NY Strips these days. They also have the absolute best seafood section I've ever seen in the Midwest. That's pricey, too, but that's where I buy my seafood.

We're going to a cookout at a friend's tonight. They are serving a variety of sausages from Bunzel's in Wauwatosa, WI, which is a small butcher shop that I've never been in, (I don't know why since I drive by it about twice a week) and I'm looking forward to it.

Kuan, you know what looks great at Costco, but I've yet to try (the Costco in SE WI just opened seven or eight months ago and is 45 minutes from my house), are the racks of lamb. Reasonablly priced, too. Are any of those awesome rack of lamb pictures you post of racks from Costco?


I'm with guy that thinks we have a fire distinguisher in the hallway.
post #14 of 39
Here is a picture of my son at his uncle's farm. (incidently, conservation farmer of the year) Roughly 250 head. Some of it is sourced by local butchers, some of it straight to the processor who sends it out to IBP and other folks who once again send it off to Costco and Ralphs.

post #15 of 39
Plastic beef sides . . . I wanna buy a few, where do I get them?:lol: They'd be great living room decor.
post #16 of 39
I wish they had real butchers in this neck of the woods. All I have in the way of getting meat is Food Lion, Lowes Foods, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market and Wal-Mart. :cry:
post #17 of 39
Golf capital of the world . . . you mean you're in central Oregon too? :D
post #18 of 39
Pinehurst, NC.

US Teens Champ going on now, Kids Worlds going on next week, Amateur Champ. going on at the end of Aug., US Open, 1999, 2005, 2014.
post #19 of 39
We have some good supermarkets this side of the pond, particularly

But, we also STILL have lots of local butchers... I know which I prefer!
post #20 of 39
I buy most fish from one source -- Vien Dong Superfood Warehouse.

I buy most poultry from two sources -- local "live" processors

I buy red meat from a variety of sources including ethnic meat markets, meat counters in ethnic and American stores, butcher shops located in supers (such as How's), supermarkets and Costco.

When possible I buy large "packer cuts," and do my own portioning, breaking, steaking, trimming, etc., on things like briskets, top-block sirloin, pork loins, pork shoulders, etc. That way we get the right sizes, everything is cut square and smooth, the fat trim is right, and if there's a problem I know where to point the finger. We own a freezer and use it.

I frequently (as in nearly always) buy "on sale." Costco ins't usually the best for quality/price, but sometimes it is -- and it's convenient. It's roughly on a par with Stater Brothers (which has better service), and Pavilions (a super market chain owned by Kroeger which has lousy service and on-site butchers but good butchers). I've never found any single place that can take care of all my needs at the highly competitive prices I'm willing to pay. I buy according to price and quality, and take pride and pleasure in finding top quality meat at the best local prices.

post #21 of 39
It depends on what I'm looking for.

There's an Asian grocer, South East Asian Market, with a small fresh meat counter specializing in really odd things, even blood occasionally.

There's a Mexican grocer, Tenochtitlan Market, with a large meat counter with some specialty products and some decent seafood including whole fish you don't see other places. The neighboring Asian market is worth visiting while you're there and there's an Indian spice market too. Pretty cool little strip mall actually.

Siegfrieds has a excellent case of processed german suasages, spreads and such.

Colosimo's is a local sausage maker with some really good sauage.

And there's Snider's, a quality butcher where I get duck, sausage casing and other hard to find goodies.

But Costco gets the bulk of my meat purchases.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #22 of 39
I try not to golf after I fractured my collar bone while playing putt-putt. I'm a little on the clumsy side.

Anyways, I'm a Costco type of gal, especially for fruit, but meats as well. The meats are good, and priced decently. Why spend extra money when you don't have to?
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #23 of 39
I have been using a butcher for the past two years, excellent meat & poultry, hes only 300 ft ( 100 m ) from my door
post #24 of 39
I wish, closest real butcher thats worth it, is 30 minutes away. I go when I'm having guests or if I'm in the area.
post #25 of 39
Are you SURE working with knives is a good idea?
post #26 of 39
We dont use much meat for the business. For sandwiches we buy from the supermarket (Ham,turkey etc.)
I'm not proud of the fact that I buy my chicken breasts from a wholesaler. I'm trying to cut chicken from the menu as I detest battery farming but my customers wont pay the extra for free range.
We only use free range eggs at work, organic at home.

We use the oldest butchers in Dundee for the family. Theyre not certified organic. but are locally sourced from small farms. All the meat is traceable and I have to brag that their Angus Rib-eye steaks are truly the best I've ever tasted.

Small, community butchers, in my opinion, give such great service. Theyre willing to help with preparing joints too, give great advice, and I think we should support them more, or they will disappear.

So what if they're a bit more expensive than the supermarkets. We pay the premium for quality, but eat meat less often. Win-win
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #27 of 39
Thankfully, the only place I'm fairly graceful is in the kitchen.

I went putt-putting with a friend and everything was great. I was winning and getting cocky so I decided to try to hit the ball as one would do while playing pool with the other end of the putter. Well, the bulb on the other side came back the wrong way and hit my collar bone pretty hard, doctors laughed at my story for some unknown reason.

But yes, I am one of the clumsiest people you will ever meet, outside of the kitchen.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #28 of 39
Thread Starter 
I spoke with a local Costco exec some months back. He said that Costco did not purchase from small, local ranchers, and that they dealt with several large operations.

Two things: what is true here may not be true elsewhere, so it's possible that the fellow I spoke with may have only been describing the operation here in Northern California. I say that in light of your comment.

Also, you said that your uncle sells to processors who sell to IBP and then off to Costco. So, even if the meat may have come from a small, local herd, Costco seems to be buying the meat from large producers. That would account for the difference in our opinions and experiences.

Also, if Costco breaks down their own carcasses, why buy from IBP, a company that breaks the meat down? Is my understanding of what IBP does incorrect?

post #29 of 39
Shel, Costco doesn't break down any carcasses. They get the subprimals and break them down into steaks.
post #30 of 39
Thread Starter 
I reall someone here saying that Costo broke down carcasses. I'll have to look for who said that and in what thread, if not this one.

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