You know you're part of some kind of cultural zeitgeist when your little neighborhood butcher shop makes the national news MSNBC. You know you're really onto something when your photo and story makes it to the front page of MSNBC's website.
And today, both Russell Flint from Rain Shadow Meats (at 1531 Melrose Avenue at the Melrose Market) and J'Amy Owens, chief executive of Bill The Butcher, Inc., were those guys. What's even more amazing? Bill the Butcher has only been around since last year (though it currently has five locations with two more in the works). And Rain Shadow hasn't even been open for six months yet."Meet the new twist on the old-fashioned butcher," said MSNBC this morning. "A small but growing number of retailers who are aiming to do for meat what others have done for lettuce, tomatoes and eggs: appeal to foodies and locavores who want to be more connected to their food, and to consumers concerned about health, the environment and treating the animals we eat more humanely." The piece then goes on to talk about locality, seasonality, the consumers' desire for animals that were raised well and slaughtered humanely, the intimate farm-to-table connection that's built by seeing whole pigs dangling from meat hooks at Rain Shadow and (because the story was filed in the business section) the weak economy.
"For one thing, meat demands a bigger chunk of your paycheck: A customer can easily spend as much in one trip to the meat counter as they might otherwise spend for a whole week's worth of groceries. For another, while many customers say they want to know more about where their food comes from, the gory details about meat can be tough to take, no matter how humanely the animal has been treated.
'People definitely ask me how they're processed, and there's no real easy way (to describe it),' Flint said. 'It is what it is. They want to know how it was slaughtered in the field and it was fed birthday cake or whatever.'"
Rain Shadow and Bill the Butcher weren't the only new-wave local butcher shops mentioned, but they (and Seattle) were the focus. And one thing I learned from reading? That I only have the second-coolest food industry job in the world. The best would be the one held by Christopher Raines in Pennsylvania. His gig: Assistant professor of meat science at Penn State University.
I wonder if, after all these years, I'm qualified to be a meat scientist...
You can check out the full article here. And if you happen to be stopping by Bill the Butcher or Rain Shadow today, be sure to congratulate the guys on their sudden fame and thank them for bringing the meat to the masses.