Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Value of the Butcher.

In recent weeks, I have had the displeasure of opening two newly-purchased, but spoiled, packages of pork meat. It's an extremely odorous and sickening discovery, to say the least. The first package I opened came from a local Food Lion grocery. Upon tearing the package open, I immediately knew the pork was bad. It had a pungent, sour smell that can only be described as rotten. The package was returned the following morning for a refund. Thankfully, the employee I dealt with didn't give me a hard time.

This evening, I had the same event occur yet again. Earlier in the afternoon, I'd purchased a pack of boneless pork ribs from my local Lowe's Foods. My dinner tonight was to be a pork stir fry. Needless to say, that quickly became a chicken stir fry. The pork ribs looked and smelled fine upon removing them from the package. I discovered their true putrid nature once I started to slice them apart. The inner centers were dark brown and stunk terribly. It's a good thing I had some chicken in the freezer to complete the stir fry with.

I realize that this is an odd topic of discussion, but it highlights a steady trend in grocery stores. That trend? The lack of an on-sight butcher.

The Butcher's Shop by Annibale Carracci, circa 1580

Both of the grocery stores that I received spoiled meat from do not have an on-site butcher. They might have a closed-off butcher work area, but there's no actual butcher there doing work. Instead, stock boys are merely receiving and repackaging prepared meat portions that have been delivered to their location. This is troublesome, in my opinion. The value of a knowledgeable butcher goes without saying. They know how to prepare meat and what manner to store it. Most importantly, a butcher knows how to spot a problem with meat before it ever reaches the consumer.

This drift away from on-site butchers will only continue as consumers become farther and farther removed from their sources of food. Unfortunately, there's little the consumer can do to change this trend. Corporations will continually fine-tune and tweak their chains of production to maximize their profits. Removing the butcher from the local grocery is just another cog in the capitalist machine.

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