"My hope is that my children will have the same passion for this as I do..."
Meet Larry Althiser, the owner and head meat cutter for Larry's Custom Meats in Hartwick, NY, a small farming community in the Northern Catskills. Larry takes pride in his slaughterhouse. He's been butchering and processing animals for over 30 years, learning through hard work his philosophy on the right way to slaughter animals so we can eat:
"Some people just don't care about other people. They just don't. I don't understand that. I want my people to care about the other end of it, not just walk in and do something and walk out at the end of the day. They need to care about what they're doing, who they're feeding and how they're doing it."
I spent two days upstate with Larry at his brand new processing plant to learn firsthand how animals become food - a rare opportunity to tell the story of transparency in the meat industry. Truth be told, I was very, very anxious going into this shoot. The night before, I tossed and turned in my bed, restless for hours. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to see the whole process, to film what I'd been shy to film for years. But, I had to do it. It's a story I wanted to tell, a good story about a proud butcher open to teaching his trade, and a story I felt compelled to share with many others, like me, who didn't want to be disconnected to their food any longer.
Slaughterhouses must exist and thrive so that small farmers can raise animals, sell meat and keep their farms alive. And animals have to die for us meat-eaters to eat. It's a food system that goes hand in hand. But, there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. The Center for Agricultural Development & Research (CADE), featured in Part 1 of this series, believes Larry does things right. So if I was going to show you a kill floor for the first time, this was it.
"Skilled, artisanal type butchers are as rare as farmers or large animal veterinarians. Although there are some younger folks in the slaughterhouses, the guys who have the real skills of 20 to 30 years are getting up there in age." - Chris Harmon, Executive Director, CADE
Please visit CADE for more information on how you can support local farms. Just remember, this is pretty heavy stuff. So just be sure you want to learn before you press play...
Thanks for watching food. curated.! Feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.
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