CADE (Part 2): The Good Slaughter: A Proud Meat Cutter Shares His Processing Floor

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Apr 7, 2011
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“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.

**One more shout out to @NYCUlla for helping me set up this story. Her and her dad operate a grass-fed farm in the Catskills that’ll take your breath away.**

 

Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    This is fascinating and tastefully done.

  2. Ulla Kjarval says:

    This is such a powerful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Artisan slaughterhouses and butcher’s like Larry’s Custom Meats are so important to farmers and the local food movement. The fact that he takes such care in processing the animals and can age and cut meat with skill can make the difference between a local farmer being able to make it or not.

  3. Thank you so much for the amazing story. Being a small farm, processing is such an important part if not the most important part of the puzzle. Thank you

  4. D. Revis says:

    You say: “So if I was going to show you a kill floor for the first time, this was it.”

    Excuse me, but why is this the slaughterhouse to show? 95% of the meat in this country comes from factory farms, and their slaughterhouses look nothing like this.

    • Andrew says:

      You’re missing the point. This isn’t about “95%” you’re referring to. Much of Food.Curated’s mission is to bring us uplifting stories about the local food movement. If you’re looking for a gritty expos‚àö¬© into a giant food corporation then you’re on the wrong part of the internet.

    • Kathy McKinley says:

      The point is: there are ALTERNATIVES the the factory farm/CAFO system and the Big Four packers, and we should be supporting and encouraging them, not diss’ing them. Larry’s Custom Meats is a model for what should (and COULD, with sufficient support) be happening all over the country. If you want to put an end to factory farming and the worst slaughterhouse abuses, don’t just bitch about them, support people who are doing it RIGHT.

    • Bill Metzgar says:

      Excuse me, please. The 95% of ‘factory farms’ you cited are not slaughterhouses, so, they have nothing to do with the killing floors. The large number (c.80%) of slaughterhouses have been made over to comply with Dr. Temple Grandin’s more humane methods and procedures of dispatching animals with respect.

    • Betty says:

      Factory farming slaughterhouses look just like this one, dumb-dumb. You’re so silly and poorly educated.

  5. Neil Miller says:

    Extraordinary video. Does a better of explaining why we should care about who raises and slaughters the meat we eat, and how these animals ought to be raised and slaughtered, than could ever be conveyed in words.

  6. Excellent story and well told. Transparency in food production at all levels is exactly what this country needs. Any idea as to how many artisanal slaughterhouses there are in the United States?

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey Chris. I can find out for you. I’ll ask CADE.

    • We are not aware of a comprehensive listing of all niche meat processors/slaughterhouses in the county. One great resource is the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network (NMPAN) (www.nichemeatprocessing.org).
      Recently, in fact, NMPAN recently sent out a specialty meat map of Wisconsin which you will find on their site. Here in NY State, Martha Goodsell of the Cornell Small Farm Work Team on Livestock Processing Issues has done a tremendous job in identifying/listing NY slaughterhouses. Also, feel free to contact us further if you have any questions or need more information at info@cadefarms.org! Thanks!

    • Thanks for the info – I’ll definitely look at it.

  7. Susan Elizabeth says:

    Thank you, if Larry were close to me he would be killing my food animals. He does it and does it right.

  8. Kitty says:

    Very nicely done. Yes, he is in the business of killing for a living… but that degree of ethical consideration that Larry has is profound and moving. If you eat meat, there is a moral imperative for you to watch this.

  9. Terrific video – thank you so much. And thanks to guys like Larry who are there to feed us with healthful foods and take the best care possible of our animals! He’s a hero in my book. Now we all need support him and his farmers by buying meats of this caliber!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Well said. I’m all about telling the stories of farmers and food makers. They work so hard for us to eat, and they deserve more credit!

  10. Adam Danforth says:

    I like to see someone else involved with meat talk with the proper humility when it comes to creating it. This was a well captured glimpse at the day-to-day process on a kill floor.

  11. Anton says:

    Nice Video, I love that he called himself a meat cutter. Thats what we used to call ourselves back in the day.

  12. Brandon says:

    Nicely done. This is a very poignant topic and your editing and approach to the subject matter was artful and professional. D. Revis quit putting folks on islands with you comments. (Haha) I suggest checking out the film, “Our Daily Bread” if you are interested in exploring the reality behind food processing further.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Thanks Brandon. It’s nice to hear what people thought of the story. It took me longer than usual to edit because, at first, I couldn’t get the story right. There was so much material and info to work with. Took about a week for it to all come together. PS – I just put “Our Daily Bread” on to my Netflix queue.

  13. Marina says:

    Liza, this is really well done. Thank you for producing this.

    Did Larry say that his slaughterhouse processes just five animals at a time?

  14. Michael says:

    Great Job Liza. You really gave us a great look into what happens in a small slaughterhouse. It was especially interesting to see how different animals are handled. I was a little surprised that they used a gun with the cow, but couldn’t really see where it was. Do they have it mounted or do they hold it? It seems a little dangerous to me.

    Also did you talk about how much small farmer’s have to pay to get their animals processed there and how it compares to industrial operations?

    • Ulla says:

      I am a local farmer who will be using Larry’s plant. Larry’s Custom meats really is state of the art; they can do skin on pork, use real hickory wood in their smokers and Larry has 30 years of butchery under his belt. I can not speak to the cost of industrial operations but processing when done right costs more than an industrial operation. There are many factors that going into that one being economies of scale, also the meat is aged and cut with care and skill.
      Also, he can age a side of beef for up to 2 weeks which is not the industry norm and for grass-fed beef producers this is a real plus but adds cost but really makes for excellent beef!

  15. Part 2 is more powerful than than the first one. Such pride and care, very moving. Well done.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Totally. I like Part 1 because it sets you up to understand the importance of the second video and how the community is working to help small farms succeed upstate :)

  16. Adriana Velez says:

    Thank you so much for this video. It’s fascinating to see the whole process and to get the perspective of a veteran cutter who cares deeply about his work. How would it change America’s meat consumption if we thought about the entire process every time we ate meat?

    Beautiful, respectful video!

  17. Kevin says:

    As a fan and supporter of all things “slow food,” I love this article and appreciate the work you do on this site. It’s hard to find butchers of this quality anywhere, but it’s really tough to locate them here in Central Florida. You absoltely are heping to heighten public awareness about consuming meat “the right way.” Please keep up the good work. :)

  18. Really nice video. Just very well done.

    Is it possible to do an “embed”? Would love to embed it in my (poorly read) blog. And I’ll definitely tweet it later.

  19. Ignore me. I figured it out. Just needed to go to Vimeo.

  20. Jean says:

    This is a wonderful video. Thanks for sharing the reality of the food cycle. It is far too easy for people to be disconnected from their food in today’s grocery store environment.

  21. Bennett Sandler says:

    It is dated and only lists USDA inspected slaughterhouses in NY State, but here is a Google Map I put together three years ago!

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=207164792787199190016.00044991f8d21963f4dae&t=h&z=7&iwloc=0004499305155352efd39

    Nice job, Larry!

  22. matt says:

    no such thing as ethical slaughter! go vegan! stop killing my friends AND destroying my planet!!

    • denise says:

      totally agree. I’m glad some people kind of care, but to me, any killing is wrong, if something can feel pain, death, fear in EXACTLY the same way we do, then I don’t see the difference between the killing of a person, and the killing of an animal. Simple as that. Though I am sure there will be plenty of people who think its ok, because humans are ‘superior’ and that we need meat to survive (funny, I know a lot of vegans who all look perfectly healthy and can assure you they are not dead or pasty walking skeletons)….. or people who have cats and dogs at home, and would never consider eating those, god no, that would be terrible to eat dog or cat, but they will happily tuck into a pig or a cow…. Someone please pray tell me the difference because I cannot seem to find one. Why don’t people commenting on this who do eat meat, watch Gary Yourofsky’s video on being vegan instead….. Now, there is a proper good and valid argument, and no killing of sentient animals either! It wont do any harm to watch the video, give it a go…..

    • Justin says:

      I don’t think its right to call out people that do eat meat as wrong. I find it aggressive and dogmatic and not being open minded to a world where there is never ONE way to live. Human beings are the only ones that create this construct of “Good” and “Evil” when in reality Nature just IS. I do agree we can rise to a higher level of consciousness and it seems from a body of evidence, less meat is inherently better for us and the planet. But it is a complex diverse topic and we have found many beneficial qualities living and utilizing animals for our lives. One day we’ll run out of fossil fuels and we have to prepare for a way of living that is less reliant on gasoline to feed us daily. Responsible Animal Husbandry and possible use for consumption should not be thrown out after centuries of beneficial collaboration. We can’t deny our ancestral history of evolving with animals, plants and this earth to get to where we are now. You can choose your path and hopefully that influences others to make their own decisions. But to attack people and to say this is all wrong is not the way to approach people with a deeper level of consciousness.

    • Mehmet Ali says:

      how come you say that? being vegan is not only irrational but also wrong. my friend, having a body evolved from a carnivore does require eating meat. vegan are totaly become estranged to their nature. not eating meat means that you have to live on pills. a life style which does not exist on nature. if you want to ruin your body and become a pill addicted poor, that is fine. but dont mess with our lives.

    • Mehmet Ali says:

      i really wonder about wht those vegans think about pests. how you deal with cockroaches or mosquitoes my friend? do you let them suck your blood or get you ill? or you vegans are just hypocrites….

    • Kathy McKinley says:

      Are you not aware that even the vegan diet causes the deaths of animals? Do you not know what happens when fields are plowed, cultivated, and harvested for the grains, vegetable and fruits that make up your diet? Hundreds of thousand, even millions, of animals die, either directly from plowing, cultivating and harvesting (when they are torn apart or crushed), or as a result of habitat loss. Apparently the only animals that “matter” to you are the ones that might have ended up on your plate but didn’t. The rest are just not on your radar screen. I guess this helps you feel “guilt-free”, but your diet is not as “innocent” as you believe. All diets result in the deaths of animals. At least omnivores aren’t in denial about that.

    • Betty says:

      Tell that to the thousands of people living in arid communities in 3rd world countries that depend on meat to survive. Why do you hate them so much?

  23. Carly says:

    Thanks to a nod from the COMFOOD listserv, I just found FoodCurated and this video. You’re doing excellent, beautiful and much needed work. Thank you so much!! As a daughter of upstate New York dairy farmers and a meat eater who relishes knowing where my meat comes from, this issue is very close to my heart.
    The steady pan of your camera during processes was a breath of fresh air; a brave endeavor to tell it like it is and acknowledge all the feelings and processes that goes into the death of animal and the subsequent birth of fresh steaks and succulent sausages. And Larry makes me proud!

  24. razldazl says:

    You are all being paid by the beef industry. The torture by desensitized humans of billions of animals every year to feed people’s greed is unconscionable. The beef and dairy industry are ruining the earth. This is not some hippie dippie BS. This is a fact. If you look for any information that is not, pardon the pun, tainted, by the beef industry or their interests, you will find that all the water and grain needed to feed these poor animals that suffer for you palates, could be better used to feed all the hungry in the world. You are ALL selfish, and if there were any justice, you will all get sick with disease from your gluttony.

    • Brandon says:

      If you would recycle some of that foil instead of making hats, you’d make a real killing. Maybe a vegan killing.

  25. razldazl says:

    You are all being paid by the beef industry. The torture by desensitized humans of billions of animals every year to feed people’s greed is unconscionable. The beef and dairy industry are ruining the earth. This is not some hippie dippie BS. This is a fact. If you look for any information that is not, pardon the pun, tainted, by the beef industry or their interests, you will find that all the water and grain needed to feed these poor animals that suffer for you palates, could be better used to feed all the hungry in the world. You are ALL selfish, and if there were any justice, you will all get sick with disease from your gluttony.

    • (hey, look, a real name. Does hiding come with the veganism or is it the other way round?)

      I’ve worked with relief organizations in Mexico, Chile, and Brazil for years. We built water wells, roads, and hospitals in areas that find most, if not all, of its income through the huge farms built to supply the American demand for produce year round. I am also biased, I am a trained butcher and chef, and have been for decades. But one thing I know for sure – most of those tomatoes, soy, tofu, bananas, rice, beans, and more than my vegan acquaintances consume come from the places I worked.

      Places that are, very firmly, in cartel control. Those off-season tomatoes on a veggie sandwich didn’t just pay for the grocer, trucker, and grower, they paid cartels as well.

      When I go to bed tonight, I have to go to sleep with Stanley the Steer on my conscience. When the vegans next door do, they’ll have to cope with being a direct contributor (and a very, very, large one at that) to the death of humans. Not just Isabella, the 16 year old girl that was kidnapped and sold into slavery by the cartel running the biggest tomato farms in Mexico, but also the hundreds, if not thousands, who work for or are affected by the emissions leaked into the soil and water by Big Pharma who produce all those supplements vegans need to take to not die.

      My conscience is rather clear. I eat local, I cook local, I support small farmers (who are the mortal enemies of CAFO organizations[1]), and I don’t contribute to cartels and pharmaceutical companies. No 12-lane highway in Chile was built to bring rice and beans to me, no species were extinct while huge swaths of land were deforested to grow “organic” food that you find on the menus of vegans every day.

      I prefer my approach to humanity.

      [1] Did you know that more than one of the large CAFO organizations are active contributors to vegan and “animal rights” organizations? Check PETAs financials some day. Why? Because no storm can grow big enough to kill those inhumane businesses. But it can, will, and has, killed small, family run, humane, farms and ranches. And those are the only enemy CAFO has (well, had, unlike CAFO, family operations generally shut down if someone sets fire to them or mails death threats). Thanks for actively supporting feed lots and mass slaughter operations, vegans.

  26. roger says:

    You are all living in a dream world. There is no such THING as human slaughter, and the depravity to which this man stoops, anthropomorphizing, yes, look that one up, of the pig at the bottom of this page makes me want to vomit. You are all evil, sheeple, contributing to ruining the enviornment, thinking only of yourselves and your little insignificant pathetic little lives, doing what you are told by big beef and pork industry, eating the blood, guts and fear of all the animals the hitmen you pay kill for you.

  27. Mary says:

    Sadly, there is nothing ‘humane’ about slaughter of animals including this..tho it is kind to har how much he seems to respect what he is about to kill.

    I wonder tho…do people get HUMANE heart attacks when they eat ‘humanely’ killed animals?

  28. MaryM says:

    Thanks so much for this effort. Beautifully- done story about how we CAN treat animals well, right up to and into their slaughter. I see so much respect here.

  29. Mike Periu says:

    Great video Liza!
    My wife and I own a small farm. Its mainly for recreational purposes but its an active, working farm that we’ve had for around 7 years. I’ve learned to slaughter animals (I’ve done pigs myself but not cattle yet). Very impressed with the technology in place here. Everything on our farm is done manually. Its very true what he says about your approach making a difference. Going through the process respectful of nature’s resources and efficiently is the right way to do it.

    For someone like me who grew up in the suburbs and completely disconnected from the realities of the farm its an important experience to actually go through the process of raising, slaughtering, butchering and cooking what you eat. Your perspective changes.

    Your blog is outstanding!

    Mike.

  30. beautifully told story–we all need to be more aware of where our food comes and showing the butchering and slaughter of the animals. Don’t be discouraged by all the negative comments and keep up the great work.

  31. Alejandra says:

    Great video, Liza! Beautifully captured and tells an important side of the story. It’s wonderful to be able to connect so directly to the food we eat. (And never-mind those negative comments–there will always be people who disagree and believe what they want; it’s a shame that they can’t express their ideas or beliefs without vitriol. You are doing fantastic work, lady!)

  32. Jeremy says:

    It’s a shame the food warriors (vegans) who are replying with hostility cannot accept that other people are free to choose a different lifestyle than the one you prescribe. I have been a vegetarian, vegan, meat eater, and pesca-tarian at different points in life. There is no single diet that is perfect for every person on this planet. If my wife wants to eat turkey, fine. I don’t have to do the same. Neither do you. You have a choice. And if someone is going to eat something that you may choose not to, wouldn’t you prefer it’s done by Larry than one of the Big Four meat packers? Spewing hatred is never going to win you converts.

  33. To everyone who is against the slaughter of animals for meat.

    All I have to say is that I assume you have an issue with those other omnivores on the planet (ie Ravens, foxes, bears and thousands of others) who also eat meat as a part of their natural diet. You must believe that we need to somehow show them that there is a way to eat plants only, because, if you believe that to kill another animal for food is wrong, then the natural balance of the world’s omnivore population is seriously unbalanced.

    That being said, I agree that our culture is insanely fixated on cheap and unhealthy meat production, and therein lies the problem. And that is the “ethical” problem we need to be tackling. It is the humans, who believe in large-scale animal production at any cost (eh, hem…CAFO’s) that you should be judging.

    Had the entrepreneurs of our past (and future?) not realized how “easy” it was to make an buck through the wholesale exploitation of human’s inherent need for animal protein, we might still be sustainably raising animals and growing our food through more smaller, sustainable farms which create healthy and nutritious food.

    Humans are mammals, and we as a species evolved to where we are today eating meat and there is no denying that. What is also a fact is that portions of the human population are always going to want to eat meat. If meat eating is always going to be a part of human culinary tradition (and it is) we should be focusing on making the slaughter process more ethical, and ensuing meat consumption more nutritious. This means going back to smaller (not necessarily small, just smaller) farms. Spend any time studying the energy and life cycles of this earth (as I have) and you will learn that the consumption of meat is a needed component in most large animals lives, and those large animals (humans included) impact their environments in ways that create balance (or unbalance, often in our case). Unfortunately, humans have taken advantage of our intellect and ability to create and we have bastardized the process of eating meat.

    Instead of vilifying people who are trying to bring respect and honor to a nutritional need in our species, we should respect what they are doing (even if you may not agree) and save our judgments and accusations for the CAFO’s who are keeping millions of cattle and chickens and pigs in horrifying conditions. If you don’t know what a CAFO is, use your human intellect and look it up.

    I was vegan for over a year because I believed it was more healthy for my body at that time and I did heal from what, at that time, ailed me. But I listened to it’s urges and it told me, some time on, that I needed to add animal protein back into my diet. I did and I am healthier than some vegans I know. But I don’t discount that other vegans and vegetarians are healthier because of the decision to change their diet thus.

    But it is a personal choice, and to say that humans in general should not eat meat is misguided and dangerous.

    What is good for you is not necessarily good for me and that is the issue at hand. Well, that and supporting local farmers in their respected pursuits of producing healthy and ethically raised meats for those who eat meat.

    Because meat eating is not going to just go away. It is in our DNA.

    Humans are omnivores, plain and simple.

  34. Olivia Lane says:

    Just to offer a little background on where I am coming from, I’ll start off by saying I don’t eat meat for ethical reasons. Having said that, I was struck by Larry the meat cutter’s statement of how he doesn’t take pride in taking an animal’s life, that his service is a response to consumer demand. Of course, you almost expect anyone who slaughters animals for a living to say that on film, but I was surprised to see that sadness and remorse expressed in his body language and voice. I pretty much feel the same way Larry does, fortunately I have discovered professional opportunities for myself outside of industries that directly exploit animals. Still, in a way, I understand how someone could get so close to something they despise– like slaughtering animals– in the hopes of at least improving a food system that is so tremendously flawed.

    I’ve seen more than my fair share of slaughterhouse footage and Larry’s place seems to be the best in terms of conditions for workers and animals. Larry only processes up to 5 animals an hour. We Americans can’t continue to consume animal products at the insanely high rate we currently do and hope that the animals they come from are all killed and cut with the kind of care Larry offers. I hope that this video makes people respect and value the work meat cutter’s perform, as well as consider the lives sacrificed to make that meat. Hopefully, it will also make people who eat animals willing to spend a lot more on the luxury and eat meat much less frequently.

  35. Chris says:

    I hate to break this to all the vegans who believe they are not killing anything but farms, even organic ones, have animal control programs in place. Deer, pigs, raccoons, and other critters all like to eat that romaine you love so much. Farmers get agricultural damage authority to kill animals feeding on their crops. The house you live in was once a field or forest where an animal lived. There is no human walking this planet that hasn’t killed an animal in one way, shape, or form. Some just kill by proxy.

  36. Jim Hunt says:

    Anti Meat Readers:

    I read your comments. Please take just a minute to read and consider my opinion.
    In reality humans will always eat meat. I sincerely hope we will consider eating less meat in the future. Much of the meat industry is a disaster both ethically and environmentally. If you understand this, then you must also realize that farms (large or small) that afford animals the opportunity to live a natural life are a beautiful thing. The animals depend on the farmers and the farmers depend on the animals.

    Slaughterhouses like the one in this video are critical for farmers who raise their animals in a humane way. Access to facilities like this will make it practical for farmers to raise animals on a smaller, more humane scale. Like it or not humans will always eat meat. Let’s support, NOT HATE, people like Larry. It is people like him, and consumers who will actually pay a little extra to buy grass-fed meat, that are going to make the biggest difference that we all want: Sustainable, environmental friendly farms with happy animals that produce a better, more healthy meat.

    Consider this… who will actually make a positive difference in our future… the mentioned farmers/meat cutters, or those who alienate and hate people that eat meat.

    Enjoy your day.

  37. Lloyd Althiser says:

    Being his brother, of course I am a bit biased. But I have known him all my life. I know where he comes from and understand fully his work and human ethics. You won’t find any better person than Larry – in workplace or otherwise. 24K gold heart.

    I was impressed with this video as well.

    What hasn’t been shown to you is his skill with a knife. I’ve seen him cut up 2 elk with nothing but a 5″ knive and lay all the pieces out perfect for the freezer in record time – without any bones. I stay at arms length and within his field of vision while he’s working. Of course, he’s careful and I know I’m not in any danger. But he’s so quick and skillful it amazes me. The meat just seems to fall apart.

    I also liked the CADE 1 video. It seems that all over this country there is a movement for local grown organic meats, fruits and vegetables without chemicals and hormones.

    Finally, Larry’s gonna be so busy in his new shop that I’m gonna have to get a team of 20 mules to get him out here elk hunting again!!

    Butch in Oregon

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Lloyd. I’m so glad you stopped by to leave this wonderful note about your brother. He’s such a good good guy. And, you know, I do have footage of him taking apart a side of beef and explaining different cuts. I think, now after reading your comment, I’ll do something with it. Glad you lent some insight! I hope you get him out elk hunting!

    • Kathy McKinley says:

      I’d love to see some videos of Larry or other master butchers cutting up a carcass into primals and then into “retail” cuts. Guys like this are real craftsmen and it’s amazing to watch them work. There used to be a butcher shop near my house (sadly, now closed) and watching the guys butterfly a leg of lamb or prepare a standing rib roast for a customer was fascinating.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey Kathy. Well, I have that footage actually on tape. I just haven’t gotten around to editing it. I’ll put it on my list :)

  38. Liz says:

    Liza, thank you for making this important piece. Clearly, Larry has respect for the animals and for both the humans who process and consume them. Quite a contrast from the large-scale, inhumane, unethical processors who create an abusive environment for both workers and animals. It’s understandable why small scale producers charge so much for their products and it’s well worth it.

  39. as a meat-eater i believe knowing what happens on a kill floor (and watching it happen) was a responsibility of mine. thanks for giving me the opportunity to see how the kind of meat i eat (locally-grown and processed by a small butcher) is killed and processed. it was difficult to watch but incredibly moving. so glad for people like larry. thanks to you, too, liza!

  40. Patty Ruggiero says:

    This was an eye-opening and very tastefully done piece. Well done.

  41. rita says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I went vegetarian and then vegan for a couple years after reading about slaughterhouses (and seeing a couple of the worst of the undercover PETA videos), but started eating meat and offal again for my health, which was failing at age 26. It’s hard to watch, but this is how meat production needs to be done. People need to see the entire process to fully understand why the system needs to change and why small-scale production is necessary. It’s great to see that Larry is so transparent and open about the entire process while still maintaining an immense amount of respect for the life of the animal and all usable parts of the animal.

  42. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am a vegetarian but I still truly appreciate the hard work of people like Larry, who wish to treat animals with respect and to be transparent about their business so that meat-eaters can see the right way to slaughter and process animals. I hope that Larry’s business thrives and that more people will follow his example!

  43. Scott says:

    Thank you so much for this story. This is the kind of transparency and honesty that is missing from most of the meat industry these days. I am a huge foodie meat lover and animal lover, and I want to make sure the animals I consume are treated and butchered humanely. I wish all slaughterhouses were this open about what they do, then perhaps the few bad apples that don’t treat their animals humanely would shape up. I also think it’s important for anyone who eats meat to see and understand this process. Not to turn them off of meat, but to make them appreciate what goes into the meal that ends up on their plate. A hamburger doesn’t come from a box, it comes from a cow. I also want to thank Larry and all the animals who have made their way to my plate. :-)

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Scott. You are most welcome. Thanks again for your note. I’m just happy that the video did exactly what I’d hoped…inform and educate the masses that there are good guys like Larry out there. Come back soon!

  44. Sooz says:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/vegans-are-living-a-lie

    This is why I cannot fathom the Black/White attitude of militant vegans.

  45. Justin says:

    @ ~7:00 what was being stamped on the carcass? was it a grading stamp? if so in house or external?

  46. Moon says:

    Excellent video! Have you seen Frederick Wiseman’s movie entitled: “Meat”? ….I’d love to see more of your work!

  47. Mike G says:

    thanks for this well done video. I am one of those small producers that sells 7 steers a year to cover the cost of 1 for my family and to trade out 1 for a hog and a few lambs.

    In Nevada, where I am located, there used to be dozens of slaughterhouse/butchers for small producers like me. Now there are 3 in the entire state that are anywhere close to what you have shown in this video. The governmant has made it harder and harder for them to remain profitable while still trying to maintain a sense of responibility to the animals and the producers. You either have to go big or get out of the business.

    I am going to refer many of my customers to your video so they can see what really happens in a well run facility vs an industrial beef plant. It will also help me to explain to them where much of the cost of labor is. Everyone just thinks that the animal goes right from the field into a plant and magically comes out wrapped in plastic.

    Thanks again

  48. Paul Althiser says:

    Yes,One more proud family member “ringing in.”
    I have not had a chance to visit his new facility yet,but have seen him in operation at
    his older place.One thing that ya may get a hint of,but I will try to spell it out a little better for ya’ll,
    is not only the work ethic that we learned at an early age,by having both, parents and grandparents,
    that were hard workers,but more importantly,HONESTY, doing the right thing,and giving someone
    their money’s worth.You may have heard him say several times”doing the best that I can.”That say,s
    it.

    It also bring back some memories,of a teenage boy,and his very first,beefer,an Angus,named
    “Buddy.”I am sure that was hard for him.

    Brother,
    PAUL

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Paul. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a little background on why you and the Althiser family have such great values. We all can see how it’s really made an impact, and it’s wonderful that you were raised to treat people with honesty.

  49. Charles says:

    Nice operation. thanks for sharing the good side of the industry.

  50. Karen Goodwin says:

    Thank you for a wonderful sensitive video. It’s been a long time comin!.
    My father who is deceased was the last in a line of five generations of German butchers . His meat market was a one, and, two man operation . Although he did not have all of the up to date ,state of the art ecquipment ; he ran his business very much as Larry does. No one loved animals more than my dad; which might have been the reason he chose to folow his dad and grandfathers into the butchering business. Only a true animal lover wether it be a farmer, butcher or vet can provide dignity in an animal’s last moments.
    My dad also did all of his own meat cutting, as well as making over 30 different types of artisan sausage and cold cuts etc. and ran a small independent grocery store.
    He was angered, as well as disgusted by the way the large slaughter houses and packing plants were run. At the time he retired he was not allowed by state law to slaughter without having a state employed vet present to watch the entire process; yet the large processing plants were lucky to have an inspetor on site once every six months! And those visits were always prearranged ! Is it any wonder there is widespread abuse of animals as well as unsanitary conditions in these plants where profit comes before everything else? As a result of this type of red tape and politics ; there was no one interested in taking over the business when he retired.. This was due mainly to the many unnecessary regulations and red tape impossed on butchers and small slaughter houses. They were also pushed out by the larger chain stores , meat processors etc. Now that the “big boys” have successfully gotten rid of the majority of small butchers etc,; people are begining to see what they have lost. Hopefully it is not too late to revive this lost profession.
    We finally understand that the small farmer needs our help, as well as our business, to survive. When are we going to learn that the small independent business man also needs our help and support to survive?. Time and time again small businesses and tradesmen are put out of work because of the lower prices etc. of big business. Small independent businesses have to pay ALL of their Social Security as well as half of their employees. They also have to provide insurance ( usually several types of insurance ) paid vacations, along with paying into unemployment compensation( even if they never use it) as well as several other recquired amenities in order to attract hard working honest employees. Because they are small ; they can not get the large volume discounts on things from supplies to health insurance, that the large corporations and their competition has access to. it is even more difficult to obtain a line of credit from the bank if you are small. Is it any wonder that most of the small independent butchers have been run out of business? Who will be next?
    The cost has been great. We no longer can follow a steak or hamburger from farmer, to butcher, to restrurant or family table. As a result there is an ever increasing amount of food being offered to us which is not only poor quality, doesn’t taste good and is actually unhealthy.. It is filled with chemicals and is oftentimes processed in unsanitary conditions. After all , it would be very difficult to return that bad steak personally to one of the big processing plants. If you could return it ; I doubt that they would be overly worried that you might tell your neighbor that you had a bad steak! The greediness of large business along with the unwillingness andr inability to pay a fair price for quality, coupled with the lack of support from government has contributed to the demise of the small butcher as well as many other professions. We have lost our local set of checks and balances as well as the ability to have a real voice in how we live, what we eat etc.
    Support local business, eat what is grown locally and in season , conserve our natural resouces while respecting all forms of life; wether it be human, animal or plant and help your neighbor. If we return to doing these things ; we just might survive!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Karen, I really really appreciate you stopping by and leaving your feelings on the topic here. It’s touching to see your viewpoint from you dad and your family’s perspective. Thank you so much. I’m doing what I can to bring more stories like this to the public. Creating awareness and appreciation for good food makers is my passion.

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