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

VideoBy 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.**



  1. VEGANITY says:

    Are you serious???? Are you really proud for killing animals???? Do you really think this is ok???

    • David says:

      I don’t think it’s an easy question. Having said that, is it wrong if an animal eats another animal? I think the answer to that has to be “no.” Some animals evolved to eat others– lions, wolves, hawks, coyotes, cheetahs, etc. just can’t live on alfalfa and carrots. So, how then should it be wrong for us to eat animals? If we are animals ourselves, that would suggest that we should abide by the same rules. If we are “above” animals, then that would seem to be all the more reason that we should be able to eat them.

  2. Nick says:

    Good piece. Everyone should know how the slaughter of their food takes place and this guy at least shows respect to these animals.

  3. Vincent says:

    Thank you very much for this video.

  4. Lukas says:

    This is a nice guy, he knows what to do and he does it right.

  5. Biz says:

    Nice to see this, great to see some transparency in the food industry; especially when it’s from small time business owners that really know and care about what they do.

  6. Dan says:

    Admirable from beginning to end and totally distant from the mass slaughter of feed lot animals. I don’t live in the US but I know that similar small, respectful and responsible processes and processors serve my table.

  7. Jo says:

    Thanks for sharing that with us Larry! Much respect to you.

  8. charlie says:

    This is important for people to see. Food does NOT come without a price. Sorry if thought it did.

  9. Well done documentary. Larry has a heart for his work. I raise and process most of the meat we eat at our small homestead and people need to know that we are not barbarians. We scratch their heads and talk to them right up to the last moment. We’ve spent months with most of our animals before we process them and taking their lives does not happen without some emotion. However, if they are not killed, they can’t make into the refrigerator! I think you did an excellent job in your coverage of this process. Thanks!

  10. Mindy says:

    This was very hard to watch but I am a meat eater and have always wanted the animal to be treated with the utmost respect and care till the very end. I wish all slaughter was done by Larry. I would enjoy my meat more knowing that he cares for these animals and has emotion for them. It is important to respect our food sources and be grateful for them. Seeing this though makes me wish I could give up the meat. I hate that we have to kill animals for food.

  11. Kay says:

    I am a meat-eater, always have been, and always will be. Watching this video was difficult, but it was also very calming. Watching the way the animals were treated before being shocked – someone even stroked the cow on the nose, I believe – really reinforced, for me, that’s it’s okay to be an omnivore. Thank you for this.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Kay, I’m glad I got to tackle this very difficult topic in a way that made you appreciate good people who just try to do their jobs with love and integrity. I think there’s a tendency to want to make negative videos about slaughterhouses, but I wanted to really show that they’re not all the same. There are really good guys out there looking out for the animals and their fellow farmers. Thanks for watching!

  12. Jeremie says:

    Thank you very much for this video!!

  13. Rebecca says:

    Oh, well done! Great story, and very well edited. It’s really touching to listen to Larry talk about his business. If only his plant were the norm rather than the exception in meat processing!

  14. Natalie says:

    Thank you for introducing us to Larry. After seeing post after post about animal abuses its easy to believe there are more monsters than Larry’s out there. That being said I am trying hard to support the small businesses and companies who do the right thing rather than just finger point at the ones who don’t. I do not live near Larry and cannot find any info about whether he distributes his meat to other areas and/or stores. Do you have info on this? Or perhaps lists of others,like Larry, who do distribute to larger super markets? Thanks again.

  15. Stephen says:

    Well Said David .
    Larry , you are the Best in this business ………you are indeed a man with zest and passion for what you do and for this you will grow from strength to strength


  16. SaraJ says:

    As a meat eater myself who has also kept food animals, I am very interested in what I term ‘ethical’ meat and meat production. I believe that the animals we eat deserve a natural as possible life and a stress-free death. My preference is for animals to be processed on their home farm, if at all possible – but the next best thing has to be factory like this one, where care is taken to keep the animal calm, process it quickly and with the least amount of fuss, and where clearly the owner is passionate about his trade, the welfare of his product and of his customers.
    Good work, I truly wish all people in the business of meat production shared the same integrity and compassion as Larry displays in this film

    br Sara

  17. vincent carlo says:

    Hi Sir.

    Good Day
    May I ask if how could I be a slaughter man in your company
    My name is vince and I am a trained butcher here in the philippines, almost a year
    and I would like to expand my skills into your company to expand my skills

  18. Peggy Cassidy says:

    Wow, this is absolutely crazy. Just because a person is petting the animal up to the moment of slaughter doesn’t mean the animal wants to die. There is absolutely no good reason to eat the muscles, blood, and fat of an animal. Admiring the skill of someone who is killing an animal for no good reason is barbaric. Evolve! We do not need meat to live. Cows and pigs love their families, and want to live out their natural lives, just like us. Everybody admiring the “skill” of this animal killer is just appeasing their own internal guilt for participation in cruelty to animals because you like how it tastes.

  19. DM says:

    We all have to eat. To all the veggies calm down. It’s you choice not to eat meat the same as someone who does. The story is about a man of integrity who cares very much about his profession and doing things right. He deserves everyone’s respect. If all Americans cared like Larry our country would not be in the state its in. However everyone has an opinion. Mine is worry about your vegetables or bugs or whatever you eat. I’ll be enjoying all the wonderful meat we have available to us.

  20. epfloors says:

    According to me, whatever the story of creating food from animals, I believe to use USDA meat cutting floors for maximum benefits.

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