“Know More About the Meat You Buy,” Warns Master Butcher Cole Ward

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Cole Ward – AKA The Gourmet Butcher (http://www.thegourmetbutcher.com) – believes it’s time for frank discussion about the way meat is raised, slaughtered and sold – particularly in terms of impacts on human health. Cole's blog, http://www.colescuts.com, provides insight and anecdotes about this industry.

Cole Ward

The Gourmet Butcher, Cole Ward

In the 30+ years of Cole Ward’s career as a master butcher, he has witnessed major changes in the way the US meat industry raises, processes and markets its products, and he’s not happy.

“I worry that the commercialization of the meat industry may have gone too far”, says this Vermont-based proponent of locally-sourced and humanely-raised meat, “and the consumer is the one holding the bag.”

Ward’s background includes large supermarket meat departments as well as small butcher shops(which, he points out, are facing extinction). He’s convinced that today’s consumers have far fewer options than ever before.

“The high throughput and minimum percentage return demanded by large meat departments mean they tend to measure success solely by financial results. Customer service, product variety and quality are relegated to second tier.”

“This is understandable, given pressure to deliver financial results, but I’ve witnessed shortcuts in record-keeping, meat processing procedures and sanitary practices that trouble me. Yes, some supermarkets do a good job of combining bottom-line profit with customer service, but I believe the trend I’m witnessing ultimately works against the consumer.“

Ward thinks it’s time for a frank discussion about the way meat is raised, slaughtered and sold – particularly in terms of impacts on human health. He’s also concerned about barriers faced by local farmers who wish to raise and sell their own (usually organic, high-quality) meat - given commercial slaughterhouses’ preferential treatment of high volume meat raisers. And he passionately advocates for the resurgence of traditional culinary butchering skills.

Ward’s passions include:

  •     all aspects of culinary butchery, including regional differences in the names of cuts and styles of cutting (a fascinating topic in itself);
  •     the inner workings of meat departments, including meat pricing, markups and chain store expectations regarding the percentage of return (which explains certain questionable procedures);
  •     the marketing of meat animals breeds (eg: “pure Angus”), and whether this makes any difference in quality;
  •     why and how sanitary laws are ignored and/or not enforced.

Ward wants to help people become informed consumers by shedding light on how the meat industry works. He is a passionate, knowledgable and extremely funny butcher with plenty to say about the way we eat meat. Plus he plays a mean jazz accordion.

Cole is available for live or remote interviews through Karen Coshof: 514 527 2131 ext 153.

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Karen Coshof
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